By James Cooley - May 31 2007 tags: spring business jboss

Rod Johnson's Spring framework is seeing strategic adoption Fortune 500 companies. This is where JBoss was around the time of their $250M trade sale to Red Hat a few years ago. Like JBoss Spring was marketed to software engineers through sites like TheServerSide. Rod's company has taken $10M Series A funding from one of eBay's VCs. Rod mentions the reasons for the funding in Spring 2.1: TheServerSide Video Interview Part II:

The facts are that Interface21 - the company behind the Spring Framework is 2.5 years old, generates significant revenues and

has 1000 sales leads sitting in their pipeline that they can't process because of lack of sales capacity.
This funding will allow them to do corporate marketing to CIOs instead of architects and developers. The $10M is good news for the guys at Interface21 and looks like another open source project flourishing into a healthy services company.

I saw the founder of JBoss speak in London near the beginning of their rise. He said the complexity of EJB deployment meant that you could build a significant services organization around it whereas projects like the Apache (httpd) just worked and didn't need a lot of expensive support contracts, books and training. It's an interesting take on satisfying customer requirements not making you money. Today, if corporations want to build ajax heavy websites, given they will want to support older browsers, there's potentially a great services revenue model there too. EJB, ajax, web services give your clients enough rope :)

The Spring framework is a attempt to move away from the EJB model to something more agile - allegedly based on Rod's experience of WebLogic/EJB bloat in the London Clearing House. Their value is in taking mundane (but highly lucrative) problem like batch processing off the mainframe and make it safe to move them into the Java space [even if it's on a WebLogic server :)]. JBoss were eating WebLogic's lunch - in the case of Spring they eating a part of Accenture's lunch (which is where JBoss wanted to be).

$10M isn't hugely significant in terms of software companies but it does show a pattern for revenue generating open source spin-offs. The question for most aspiring open source entrepreneurs is whether your potential revenue model is a JBoss or an Apache? Is your software domain complex enough to convert downloads into sales leads?