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Pivotal Spring Runtime extends Java support, company lifeline

Pivotal's distribution of OpenJDK, the open source version of Java, joins the ranks of Amazon, Azul, IBM, Red Hat and others that provide long-term Java support.

Pivotal's latest push for Java support aims to help customers execute on their cloud strategies and digital transformation efforts -- and get the company itself back on the rails.

Pivotal Spring Runtime, released last week, taps into the power of the Spring Framework, which is wildly popular among Java developers to the tune of over a million new programmers per month, said Ryan Morgan, Pivotal's vice president of engineering. Pivotal is the steward of the Spring Framework.

Pivotal's OpenJDK distribution

Pivotal's own distribution of OpenJDK, the free, open source version of Java, is a key part of the new Pivotal Spring Runtime. Pivotal will provide ongoing support, plus regular security and performance updates for its OpenJDK distribution, Morgan said.

Pivotal's OpenJDK distribution addresses customers' concerns about changes to Oracle's JDK licensing fees, and its OpenJDK support or lack thereof, Morgan said. For many users, Oracle cut off free support for OpenJDK in January. Pivotal has shipped OpenJDK as a part of Pivotal Cloud Foundry, the company's flagship product, for five years, he said. Pivotal took some of the expertise it had around Spring and Tomcat and decided to apply that to OpenJDK as well.

"We're really for the first time, providing comprehensive support for anything Java based on any platform for our customers," Morgan said.

With the Pivotal Spring Runtime, developers get Pivotal's OpenJDK distribution, as well as support for Spring Framework, Spring Boot, Spring Cloud and Spring Cloud Data Flow. They also get support for the Java-based Apache Tomcat application server, including the open source project, as well as for Pivotal tc Server, the company's enterprise extended edition of Tomcat.

Forrester analyst Jeffrey HammondJeffrey Hammond

Pivotal's deepened support for Java could help the company tighten its ties with developers.

"It's hard to run into an enterprise using Java at scale where you don't also find one or more Spring products," said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research.

It's hard to run into an enterprise using Java at scale where you don't also find one or more Spring products.
Jeffrey HammondAnalyst, Forrester

Reiterating that Pivotal is not just a PaaS player, but also a key thought leader in the Java space, may be a catalyst for the company to regain lost momentum.

Explaining the company's latest quarterly financial results this week, Pivotal CEO Rob Mee acknowledged a "complex technology landscape" and some sales execution woes. But despite his optimistic outlook for subscription growth, the company's stock tanked by over 40% following the results.

Kubernetes is a "black hole gravitational force" that's making life difficult for all PaaS providers right now, Hammond said. "In the end it's fine to have a Kubernetes service or a PaaS, but at some point developers have to write code -- and a lot of it will still be in Java -- and their management teams will want to make sure they are covered from a licensing perspective," he said.

Consternation over Oracle's licensing

Oracle's adjustments to Oracle Java SE licensing have caused consternation among many enterprises, and they have started to look at variants of OpenJDK as a long-term option.

There are multiple paths forward for enterprises that require long-term OpenJDK support, including self-support. Amazon addressed this issue with its own distribution of OpenJDK known as Corretto. Other options are Red Hat, IBM, Amazon, Azul, AdoptOpenJDK, Open Logic and of course Oracle, Hammond noted. Pivotal is a platinum sponsor of the AdoptOpenJDK project.

For Spring shops it may well make sense just to work with a single vendor on a long-term support plan, Hammond said. "This affinity to Spring and Spring Boot makes this offering somewhat unique, as well as the long history of Java support that Pivotal has and the expertise around building Java applications at scale."

Pivotal offers the Pivotal Spring Runtime as a yearly subscription with pricing per Kubernetes Pod and per core, Morgan said. The Pivotal Spring Runtime subscription costs $25,000 per 50 pods per year, and is also available for $4,000 per eight cores per year. Pivotal Spring Runtime also is included with the Pivotal Application Service subscription.

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