SpringSource Hyper Over Hyperic

At the beginning of the year, many analysts predicted that, given the economic climate, this would be the year for mergers and acquisitions. Indeed, they were right: acquisitions are up in everything from banking to technology, with the latter category perhaps best represented by Oracle's surprise snatch of Sun Microsystems just a few weeks ago. The buying, at least from where we're sitting, looks primed to continue, and Open Source companies are no exception, as was aptly demonstrated this morning as it was revealed that Open Source vendor Hyperic has been acquired by the likewise Open Source SpringSource.

SpringSource is best known for its Spring Framework, an Apache-licensed Open Source Java application framework considered the leading Open Source Java framework, numbering among its users more than half of Fortune 2000 companies. Hyperic is well known for its Open Source Hyperic HQ monitoring software, which manages web applications and the technology that powers them. The two companies have been partners for some time, with SpringSource utilizing Hyperic HQ in its product offerings since the end of 2007.

With the acquisition of Hyperic, SpringSource positions itself to compete with "solution providers" like IBM, rather than providing only part of the ultimate system. Given that both companies provide Open Source versions of their products, one expects we will see an Open Source version of the "complete suite of software products that accelerate the entire build, run, manage enterprise Java application lifecycle" that SpringSource intends to develop. Hyperic CEO Javier Soltero, who will become "management products" CTO at SpringSource, told CNET news:

[T]his acquisition is about offering the full application lifecycle: build the applications, run those applications, and then manage those applications using Hyperic.

This is more than a marriage of code. It's about merging the best people in IT management with the best in Java application development. It gives us broader and deeper visibility up and down the software stack and across a company's network and data center, including virtualization and cloud computing environments. It means that we've just reduced and, in some cases, eliminated the gap between application development and IT operations.

Interestingly, both companies count Benchmark Capitol among their investors, specifically frequent Open Source investor Peter Fenton. This has apparently set those who ponder on such things atwitter, leading to suggestions that Benchmark may have had a role in organizing the acquisition, possibly as the result of what was described as "a whim on the part of Peter Fenton." Hyperic's Soltero denies any involvement by Benchmark — something which would have placed the firm in hot water with regulators — saying only that the VC firm is "of course happy" with the acquisition, and no doubt with the firms' goal "to unify developer to datacenter application lifecycle."

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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