My name is Sébastien Arbogast, I’m 27 and I’m a freelance Software Architect and Developer based in Brussels, Belgium. My main specialties are agile methodologies, rich internet application, highly productive Java development and iPhone development. Sebastien is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 26 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Towards a mainstream Open Source OSGi application server?

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It’s official: SpringSource has just acquired Covalent. Or as I explained it to one of my colleagues, “the company behind our IoC framework has bought the one behind our application server”.

My first reaction was satisfaction, because it’s another step forward in the direction of corporate Open Source adoption. It’s always amazed me to see how big companies can be afraid of Open Source. And the fact that there is now one bigger support service offer behind two of the most popular Open Source technologies in the enterprise will certainly reassure some skepticals.

The second “kiss cool effect” was undoubtedly about something I’ve really been playing with lately, since Javapolis: OSGi. The fact that componentization-related JSR’s are so fragmented and so alpha, plus the recent works of Spring Dynamic Modules for OSGi, added to Peter Kriens’ presentation at Javapolis, all of that really got my attention. And now I’m dreaming of building a collaboration platform using Flex for the front-end and OSGi, Spring and Hibernate JPA for the back-end. The only component that’s missing in my big picture is a deployment target platform, i.e. an OSGi application server. Of course, JOnAS is working on that but there’s no documentation on their 5.0 server whatsoever. And I’ve heard Websphere and Weblogic are using OSGi too, but hey, I’m talking about Open Source here! Now have a look at the documentation of both Tomcat and Spring. They’re probably amongst the best Open Source documentations on the planet. Now imagine that quality of documentation for a brand new Tomcat 7 server using OSGi as a core deployment mechanism, and integrating Spring DM libraries to ease the development of web application bundles.


Published at DZone with permission of Sebastien Arbogast, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Ronald Miura replied on Tue, 2008/01/29 - 11:51am

SpringSource didn't acquire Tomcat, it acquired expertise. I don't think it will cause such an overhaul in Tomcat's internals. And even if SpringSource decided to build a OSGi deployment platform (what is not likely), it would probably happen at the level of Spring, in an application server-independent manner.

This is just the beginning of OSGi on the server. As initiatives such as Server-Side Equinox mature, they will surely provide convenient means for deploying modules dinamically.

Mike Heath replied on Tue, 2008/01/29 - 12:42pm

I know that WebSphere 6.1 is built on Equinox but is there any way for the applications I deploy to WebSphere to gain access to Equinox services?  I haven't seen any documentation for this.  The only way I know of to deploy OSGi components to WebSphere is to copy the OSGi bundle to the WebSphere plugins directory (the same way Eclipse plug-ins are deployed).  There not much utility here from the appliction developer point of view.

 Am I missing something?  Is there some way I can take advantage of OSGi and it's dynamic reloading from my web applications that are deployed to WebSphere?

Mark Unknown replied on Tue, 2008/01/29 - 1:03pm in response to: Ronald Miura

Maybe it won't, but if you look at Rod's blog you will see they have people commiting to Apache projects.

Btw, I've asked this question on another forum.

Fred Grott replied on Tue, 2008/01/29 - 11:55pm

 Ahem, WEbsphere uses Apache Geronimo for their OSGi..last tiem I  checkled Apache Geronimo was opensoruce..


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Sebastien Arbogast replied on Wed, 2008/01/30 - 6:06am in response to: Fred Grott

I didn't know about that. Good point!

Mike Heath replied on Wed, 2008/01/30 - 1:13pm in response to: Fred Grott


Geronimo is only now starting to move towards OSGi,  How then, can something like WebSphere get its OSGi support from Geronimo?  WebSphere uses Equinox which comes from the Eclipse Foundation.

Equinox is open source but I fail to see how that is relevant.  Software licensing doesn't change its functionality.  If I deploy, for example, a .war to WebSphere, I can not access WebSphere's OSGi services from my app.  This makes the fact that WebSphere use OSGi absolutely meaningless to an application developer.  Yes I could deploy an OSGi bundle to WebSphere by placing it in WebSphere's /plugin directory (the same you deploy plugins to Eclipse) but how our the incompetent system administrators in our org going to manage my OSGi bundle let alone deploy it?

Ken Adams replied on Wed, 2008/01/30 - 5:23pm

Towards Spring Application Server? Does history repeat itself? Is someone going to write a book called "Enterprise Java Development without Spring" soon?

Benoit Pelletier replied on Wed, 2008/03/12 - 3:58am

As said in the article, JOnAS 5.0 relies on a pure OSGi architecture. Main advantages are dynamic services enabling to reconfigure them at runtime, JEE/OSGi gateway, extensibility, pluggability. Furthermore, with EasyBeans (JOnAS's EJB3 container,, EJB3 modules can be deployed as OSGi bundles.

You'll get more information in the white paperavailable on the JOnAS web site here :

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