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SpringSource and Covalent: good thing for Apache?

SpringSource, the company behind the Spring Framework, has purchased Covalent, a company that provides support for Apache projects. This popped up on my radar because Covalent offers support contracts for Roller and in fact, SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson mentioned Roller specifically when talking about the deal (emphasis mine):

Rod Johnson: "We want to support the open source software that people want to use," including the Geronimo application server, the Axis Web Services Framework from Apache, and the Apache Roller Blog multi-user blogging software."

Sounds like a good thing and hopefully it will improve the support story for all Apache products. In fact, it could be a really good thing for Apache projects because Rod's philosophy is that you can't support software unless you are one of the software's creators.

Rod Johnson: "You can't divorce the process of maintaining software from the process of creating software...That's not the future of enterprise open source - unless open source has no future"

Based on that, we can assume that SpringSource will now be paying committers to do creative work on Roller and other Apache projects so that they can provide the best maintenance and support of those same projects. Right? Maybe I'm too naive -- after all, I figured having Roller in Lotus Connections meant IBM would be contributing.


Actually, Rod's philosophy about _only_ the creators of a bit of software can support it has rubbed a number of communities wrong. Part of the Apache philosophy is allowing for a _diverse_ market for support, in which all players can compete. We value this diversity, feel it improves our project communities and ultimately our code. The idea that a particular company "owns" an Apache project has always been frowned upon. This is my only concern about the Covalent acquisition.

Posted by aaron on January 30, 2008 at 02:51 PM EST #

Aaron We respect the ASF. Covalent is (was) a great company that made money and engaged positively with the Apache community. We look forward to continuing that engagement and increasing it further as our combined company grows. Yes, I've always had a strong view that you can only offer credible support if you employ committers on projects, and I stand by that. That does not necessarily mean "owning" projects--which you can't do with ASF projects. It means being able to stand behind SLAs and guarantee to resolve problems. And not just focusing on making money from open source, but on sponsoring significant *creation* of open source. Rgds Rod

Posted by Rod Johnson on January 31, 2008 at 04:44 AM EST #

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