In case you didn’t notice from the change of tone in my tweets, I have been on vacation with the family for the past week. Enjoying the scenic grandeur (and at times solitude) of the Pacific Northwest and taking a ton of photos with my new camera (1388 photos to be exact…and 5 movies…).
Today, I had the joy of the first day back on the job and dealing with the flood of emails, followups, and catching ups that is the price we pay for taking some time off and not reading emails. Like that wasn’t enough, today VMware (my employer) had to go an announce that we were acquiring SpringSource (and add a few more items to my list to completely dissolve that post-vacation glow! 🙂 ).
After a day dealing with my inbox and urgent items, I had to take some time out of the evening photo processing to read the Steve Herrod and Rod Johnson blog posts on the acquisition. And provide a bit of a different viewpoint on this acquisition…fresh from vacation and not knowing anything more about this acquisition than what has been publicly stated by others (so safe from saying anything other than my opinion – see disclosures in the About latoga labs in the sidebar).
I’ve Been Through This Before
I’m not talking about my employer acquiring a company. I’m talking about a closed source Company acquiring essentially an Open Source company. Before joining VMware I used to work for IONA Technologies (sound familiar….think CORBA…Yes! That IONA!). I was there when IONA bought LogicBlaze. What made this acquisition interesting (especially for me…being part of the enterprise sales team at IONA) was that we went from having 1 closed source product (ESB) to three products (all ESBs) which competed with each other. And I was only allowed to sell one of them.
Executing a successful merger is not easy even when the companies are very well matched. But it becomes even more difficult when they have conflicting core values (and revenue models) like closed source code development and open source code development. In my most recent experience, the Iona/LogicBlaze merger didn’t work as well as it could have because the two sides of the house competed against each other and management turned a blind eye to it while they tried to figure out a revenue strategy post merger. Funniest thing is that a lot of the core value propositions we were discussing with clients at IONA in that Enterprise sales team that I was part of, still hold true today. Back then virtualization was a huge hidden value savings that I couldn’t tap into. Not any more…
Regardless of the synergies that two companies can provide each other technology wise, there is not as much focus traditionally placed on the social aspect of merging two companies. It is that social aspect (like the social aspect of introducing any new technology in a company) that will drive the speed and revenue value of the acquisition. Having been through this before in a rather painful way, it is important to mention this fact.
Why VMware + SpringSource Makes Sense
The good news is that this conflicting personality issue shouldn’t be a problem with the VMware/SpringSource merger. First, there is no competing technologies between the two vendors. SpringSource allows VMware to access the higher level parts of IT (Applications and App Developers) while also working together to enable the Cloud Vision of vSphere.
Second, based upon what Rod Johnson indicated in his blog post, he will be heading up SpringSource as a separate unit within VMware following the VMware BU organization. This should mean that SpringSource will get to work as they have been to support their existing community and customers in that classic open source way while working together with the other VMware BUs to add bigger picture value through the combination of SpringSource technologies with VMware’s.
Paul Maritz has indicated in the past the need to move up the value stack of IT and has used the term framework more than once during the vSphere launch. The ability to leverage the virtualization foundation of vSphere with vApp and abstract away the applications from the operating systems with SpringSource’s various build-run-manage products not only provides a much more open application development environment to compete with Google and Amazon, but also provides an solid migration path for Enterprises to move to the Private Cloud with all their web based Java applications. Image a world where Java App developers have the ability to integrate via the spring framework right into the virtualization based cloud where their apps will be tested/QA’d/run. Regardless of weather…er…I mean whether…that cloud is an internal cloud or an external cloud.
I see some very clear and interesting developments on the horizon from this acquisition which I’ll try to disclose my opinion on in the future. And, as is can be the case when you put a lot of very smart people together with solid management, I’m sure we’ll see some surprises as well. From the looks of my LinkedIn network, I’ll also be re-united with some old colleagues as well!
Tomorrow will be an interesting day of conversations with my global clients to hear their take on things!