Well, not quite. But if you’re a fan of open-source software for the enterprise this is pretty big news - SpringSource (who, unsurprisingly, provide services around the Spring framework) is buying Covalent, who in turn provide services around server implementations like Tomcat and Geronimo, which are of course both Apache open source projects. It will mean of course that SpringSource will become more of a ‘one stop shop’ for people wanting to deploy Spring from start to finish. Of course Spring can be deployed on lots of other server implementations too (e.g. JBoss, WebSphere, OAS, glassfish) - given that Tomcat and Geronimo are more at the lower end of the scale I doubt this will mean any particular level of favouritism for them, just a more seamless service for those in that bracket perhaps. You can read the press release for more details.
Consolidation is happening all over the shop these days in ‘commercial’ open source circles, and it’s probably a good thing in the round. There’s some seriously good software out there but it gets ignored by a lot of people because its’ professional profile isn’t as high as the competition, and it perhaps looks like a ‘riskier’ play than the offerings from incumbents, particularly if the organisation isn’t used to non-proprietary offerings - this happens in spite of the fact that often, the open source alternatives are actually more mature and proven; it’s often just an ‘image’ thing. Having larger companies selling this software to people (or rather, selling the services but promoting the product) might seem at odds with where open source came from, but it’s the only way to get it under the noses of some consumers in the corporate world. People like IBM and Oracle might not exactly be altruistic about it (after all, they’re doing it for their bottom lines at the end of the day), but the halo effect does benefit, as well as direct funding when that happens. I consider companies like SpringSource to be more ‘grass roots’, and if anything having them grow up to rival the bigger companies is the best possible outcome - we can hope that the interests of corporations and individual open source users / contributors continue to be served equally. And of course, the open source model means that even when these companies do get big, they can never pull any nasty stunts like suddenly charging you more to access the software, or forcing you to upgrade to maintain support - since you have the source, so long as there’s a demand to maintain the version you’ve deployed, you’re fine. In an enterprise world, where you might have put significant investment in your custom deployment of a product, that control is really important.