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SpringSource regains footing with support change

Inclusive, not exclusive

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The change to SpringSource's enterprise maintenance policy for the popular open-source Java framework represents a gentle shift in emphasis.

Announced literally as The Reg was going to press with our story announcing the forthcoming changes, SpringSource has adopted a policy that is more inclusive than exclusive. It seems to be going down well.

SpringSource has promised to make regular source and binary releases of the current major release available to everyone - not just those paying for support - up until the next major release of Spring.

A major bone of contention with the September plan (warning PDF) was it limited updates to those paying a support subscription for three years. Those not paying got updates but for a period of just three months after a major release.

Where SpringSource fumbled the ball was in trying to give business customers - those who pay the bills - something actually worth paying SpringSource for.

With the new program, SpringSource seems to have nailed that. Paying customers will get maintenance releases for previous releases of Spring for a period of three years after it became available. Also, back ports of latest update will only be for those paying the subscription.

That's important because it means SpringSource will give enterprises what they need most: a guarantee through updates that their Spring infrastructure won't become obsolete in just a few years' time for lack of support and updates.

The community, meanwhile, get to use the latest versions of Spring - complete with latest updates - and are not left Airfix gluing the bits together as they would have been forced to under the original plan.

The revised program is important for SpringSource. It's a small company with limited resources. It simply cannot continue to update and maintain every single edition of Spring in existence. It's a classic problem that even a company the size of Microsoft grapples with, hence the product maintenance timeline is not infinite.

Limited support for the latest versions is important for the tiny SpringSource if it's to be believe when it claimed - as it did this week - that Spring has been downloaded five million times and is used by 64 per cent of enterprises according to BEA-Systems-branded data.

More is coming, too: the Spring Framework is on version 2.5, with version 2.5.6 due "very shortly" and work is beginning on version 3.0, chief executive Rod Johnson blogged.

The only uncertainty in this is pricing for non-enterprise customers. As reported by The Reg, SpringSource plans less enterprise-y pricing for small businesses and small systems integrators (SIs). While SpringSource was quick to post the revised details of its maintenance program on October 17, details on pricing for small businesses and SIs are not yet available.

Johnson promised there'd be more information about a "new product" in the near future for small businesses and SIs. ®

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