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SpringSource Springs Enterprise Tomcat Server

VMware's SpringSource unit launches an enterprise version of the Apache Tomcat server used to run Java apps on the Web.

Charles Babcock

March 10, 2010

3 Min Read

SpringSource, the open source supplier of the Spring Framework for developing Java applications, is enhancing deployment of the Java application server via a new version of its lightweight server based on Apache Tomcat, the SpringSource tc Server, Spring Edition.

In the new SpringSource nomenclature, "Spring Edition" sits at the top, where "enterprise edition" does in other product lines.

The Spring Edition tries to close the gap between developing Java applications and using them in operations. Monitoring mechanisms and application metrics implemented in Spring Edition gives developers insight into application health and performance, the same view that the operations managers will have once the application goes into production.

The SpringSource tc Server expands Tomcat's advantages as a lightweight server of Java Servlets in Web applications. Tomcat takes Servlets, which are Java objects or discrete modules of code, and uses them to answer a request for a specific service.

The request usually comes from the browser of an end user and the response is likely to be dynamic HTML or XML code that accomplishes something upon receipt by the end user.

Servlets are to Java developers what Active Server Pages are to Microsoft .Net developers -- they provide the interactive elements on the Web page to the end user. Tomcat (and tc Server) specialize in running Servlets.

As Java applications produced with the Spring Framework are deployed, particularly on a Web site with variable traffic, they may run into performance problems as traffic mounts. The Spring Edition used with the SpringSource Tool Suite gives developers a chance to engineer in efficiencies and purge bottlenecks, before applications reach production, said Sean Connolly, VP of product management for VMware in an interview.

SpringSource is a former independent open source company acquired by VMware in August. It is now operated as business unit of the virtualization software supplier.

In addition, the Spring Edition enables the rapid deployment of multiple instances of tc Server on one physical piece of hardware. "We've made it really easy to deploy a dozen instances per machine," Connolly noted.

That's an advantage in heavily virtualized environments where each virtual machine may need a copy of the application server as well as the application. It's also an advantage on Web sites where more running instances of the application server will allow more traffic requests to be processed and satisfied.

The Spring Edition allows an operations manager to define conditions that trigger alerts, such an increase in application response times above a certain thresholds. A workflow process can be built into its operation so that a string of alerts triggers a corrective process or other control action, Connolly said.

At the same time SpringSource is trying to remain the "lightweight" or small footprint software supplier for Java developers, as originally conceived by Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring open source project and now general manager of the SpringSource business unit.

Tomcat and spinoff products, such as tc Server, have more limited functions and try to do fewer things than their commercial application server counterparts for faster operation and less complexity.

Connolly cited NPC International, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisers, as an implementer of Spring Edition into a system that was "too process-heavy." Jon Brisbin, portal Webmaster, now loads 12 instances of tc Server onto his physical servers in his internal or private cloud environment, where servers are heavily virtualized, he said in the SpringSource announcement.

Another implementer is Associated Newspapers digital services division in the UK, publisher of the online Daily Mail and Evening Standard. When the division had problems deploying applications on tc Server, a SpringSource technical support person showed up at their site. He was one of the lead committers from the Tomcat open source project and "helped resolve the issues in minutes," according to information posted on the SpringSource Web site.

The tc Server is available for free download as a developer edition. It's available for $500 in a Standard Edition; the Spring Edition, available in April, is priced at $750.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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