Spring standardization numbers on the increase

Engineering | Steven Schuurman | August 29, 2006 | ...

Spring - here to stay for a long time I visit many clients and speak to even more on a day-to-day basis. This includes existing Interface21 clients as well as companies that are interested in our products and services across Europe. I have noticed a recurring theme in the conversations I am having: Spring is here, and it is here to stay.

Over the last year I have witnessed executive-level decisions that have standardized Spring throughout the fabric of leading Enterprise Java development firms. Just two weeks ago I asked one of my clients - a Java unit manager at one of Europe's largest System Integrators - "what could cause you to move away from Spring?" His answer was crystal clear, "At this time, nothing. With our level of investment it would take us at least a couple of years to analyze and test the feasibility of any alternative."

System Integrators are standardizing on Spring This is only one example. Nearly all System Integrators in Europe that I know personally (and that is quite a few of them, employing over 4000 professionals) are in the final stages of their Spring standardization process. Most started anywhere between a year ago to 3 months ago due to the fact that key senior developers and architects are convinced of the superior quality and usability of Spring for day-to-day development.

In the conversations I have had with managers, I have found that as their technologists became more familiar with the programming model, more of Spring found its way into their projects. Most I talk to explicitly mention the extraordinary high quality of the Spring code base and a "trust factor" that has emerged over time. Quality and the steady stream of trustworthy versions are consistently mentioned as two of the main reasons their developers are so positive about Spring.

The way in which the world's most influential SIs perceive Spring is working miracles for its adoption all over the world. The standardization process has only started and these companies have already introduced Spring (and Spring WebFlow, AspectJ, and even a young product like Spring Web Services) into many thousands of enterprise class companies all over the globe; hereby creating (potential) customers for Interface21 across every continent.

Difference between Europe and the US With all this said, the differences in how Spring finds its way into companies across countries and continents are remarkable.

In Europe it is very often mid-sized and large SIs that introduce Spring into end-user organisations. In the US and the UK it is more common for end-user company employees or free-lancers to spread the word and introduce new technologies into their employer's landscape. Fortunately many end-user companies and IT companies are picking up on, or have already embraced, Spring in their development processes. This has led to growth worldwide in the number skilled Java developers that have significant hand-on experience with Spring, thereby lowering the threshold for other companies to standardize on Spring.

Regardless of how Spring finds its way into an organization, the reasons why it gets selected are simple: because it solves everyday problems the vast majority of the enterprise Java developers face day in, day out. It really is as simple as that. Of course there are many other reasons: code quality, documentation, forum support, and the reliability of the framework itself are all important. However, in the case of Spring it is primarily the fact that the people behind the product listen to what their users want and are sincere about delivering products that do more than just work; these products are designed to be great to work with.

Expanding relationships There are opportunities to communicate with our audience even more effectively than what is being done today. The time is right to expand the relationships Interface21 has with many of the world's leading System Integrators and consultancies. By working closely with the people that use Spring and other Interface21 products heavily on a day-to-day basis, we can rapidly direct feedback from the front-lines back to the Interface21 product development teams. This is similar to how open source communities work, where the community provides broad feedback on releases across all phases of a product's lifecycle. Here we're simply opening another, direct channel, recognizing the fact the people that experience the challenges of today's enterprise software development day-in-day-out are often the first that understand what needs to be changed.

This could lead to interesting ideas and initiatives. Making a serious effort to walk the fine line between a bottom-up and a top-down approach is key here though--always holding on to your own vision but at the same time staying in touch with reality.

I think I'm going to look into this a bit more; you never know what this might lead to.

Rgds, Steven

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