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SpringSource has picked up on the trend for modular servers with the planned beta release today of the SpringSource Application Platform, its Java application server.

SpringSource chief executive Rod Johnson told Reg Dev the Spring Application Framework is the “first proper” Java application server product to appear for the enterprise in ten years.

By taking the modular approach, he claimed SpringSource can “provide an up-to-date server model that gives enterprises the features they want.” The full open source and commercial versions are scheduled for June.

Johnson is making a big claim. BEA Systems, whose acquisition was this week completed by database big-daddy Oracle, had been pushing its own modular application server agenda using OSGi specifications. BEA was also generally regarded to have woken computing giant IBM from its Java application server slumber in the early 2000s and forced Oracle to raise its own game thanks to features in WebLogic Server that boosted performance and ease of use. JBoss subsequently took the baton and challenged both BEA and IBM on price and openness of development via open source.

At the heart of the Application Platform is SpringSource's dynamic module kernel - or dm-kernel. Like BEA, SpringSource is also using the OSGi in addition to Eclipse Equinox and Apache Tomcat technologies. SpringSource joined the Eclipse Foundation in March and acquired Tomcat-contributor Covalent in January

Johnson described the dm-kernel as “a generic middleware kernel” that can support different application types. "The dm-kernel provides a context for the OSGi, which is at a lower level. It introduces extra levels of abstraction and features, which enterprise users need for operations such as logging and operational management. So it is equally appropriate for batch processing as it is for web applications," Johnson said.

“The modular infrastructure enables users to deploy applications with more flexibility so you can reduce test-cycle times. And in production you can deploy patches without needing to take the server down," Johnson said of his company's offering.

SpringSource is also collaborating with consultancy giant Accenture on a batch-processing server that will be included in a later version of Application Platform planned for release in November 2008. "Batch processing is not going to go away and currently enterprise users face a real fight when deploying batch applications on Java servers," Johnson said.

SpringSource was created late last year from Interface 21 to focus on the incredibly popular Spring Java and J2EE application framework created by Johnson. Delivered in 2004, the Spring Framework was conceived as a lightweight and configurable Java container using layered abstraction.®

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