I had a great conversation with Rod Johnson, CEO of SpringSource last week. As readers of TSS will know, news of SpringSource acquiring Covalent caused much buzz amongst notary middleware personalities.

Rod explained that acquiring Covalent provides SpringSource with contributors on several Apache projects including Apache Tomcat. Why is Tomcat important? Well, more than a third of Spring users run SpringSource products on Tomcat. Tomcat use is also relatively high for paying customers of SpringSource support. The Covalent deal helps SpringSource offer customers a joint Tomcat and Spring support offering from one vendor. Rod states:

“Having committers on the project allows SpringSource to offer credible support for Tomcat and ensure that the project continues to innovate.”

Rod spoke about the 3x increase in staff working on the growing number of SpringSource products as a result of VC funding in the summer and growing revenues.

On the revenue front, apparently SpringSource’s revenue is much higher in their lifecycle vs. other OSS companies that Benchmark has invested in. While a majority of SpringSource revenue comes from professional services today, Rod and team want SpringSource Subscriptions to become the company’s major revenue driver. The Covalent acquisition helps on this front. So to does SpringSource’s intention of delivering higher-value monitoring, administration and management offerings as part of the SpringSource Subscription. While these products will only be available to paying customers, Rod proclaimed:

“Spring is never going to be crippleware”

Additionally, SpringSource is planning to offer specialized bundles of the Spring Portfolio pre-configured for leading application servers (WAS, WLS, JBoss, Tomcat, etc) as part of for-fee SpringSource Subscription.

On a side note, anyone reading Rod’s blog recently will notice something that I’m sure the JBoss team has. Rod is very positive about Tomcat and, to a degree, questions whether Tomcat could displace JBoss in a non-insignificant portion of JBoss deployments. While SpringSource intends to support leading app servers including JBoss, it appears that coopetition is coming to a Tomcat/Spring/JBoss user near you!

Rod wants to build a strong middleware product business. The longer that SpringSource can remain independent, grow revenues and its product penetration, the larger the payout is likely to be when someone comes knocking.