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Summary:

SpringSource, the application-platform arm of VMware, has been working closely with NoSQL startup Neo Technology to produce a version of the Neo4j graph database optimized for Spring environments. Additionally, SpringSource founder and GM Rod Johnson is now chairman of Neo’s board of directors.

teamwork chain

VMware CEO Paul Maritz has been banging the drum for a new era of application development tailored to a world of cloud computing, big data and multi-platform delivery, and NoSQL is often seen as an important part of that evolution. That end, the SpringSource division of VMware has been advancing its NoSQL prowess by working very closely with Neo Technology to produce a version of the Neo4j graph database optimized for Spring environments.

Further, SpringSource founder and GM (and current SVP of applications platforms at VMware) Rod Johnson is now chairman of Neo’s board of directors. VMware has been nothing if not strategic in how it has grown the SpringSource business since acquiring it in 2009, so the alignment with Neo could foreshadow a stronger NoSQL push by VMware.

What’s particularly interesting is that Emil Eifrem, Neo Technology CEO and one of Neo4j’s creators, told me Spring Data Neo4j is the product of a joint development between himself and SpringSource’s Johnson. And not only is Johnson now chairman of Neo’s board of directors, but as far as Eifrem knows, it’s Johnson’s only board seat of any kind.

The seemingly tight connection doesn’t mean VMware will start pushing Neo4j as the only NoSQL database that matters, or buy Neo Technology tomorrow — Spring Data Neo4j is actually part of the greater Spring Data project that includes a number of other NoSQL options — but it does underscore VMware’s ongoing commitment to NoSQL and other alternatives to legacy relational databases. Last year, it purchased distributed data grid vendor GemStone Systems and hired Redis key developer Salvatore Sanfilippo.

As Eifrem said, both Oracle and MySQL established their lofty positions by being the right tool for the application evolutions that were happening around the time of their respective births. MySQL was the “M” in the LAMP stack that underpins so many first-generation web applications, he said, so “what is the LAMP stack of the cloud?” Perhaps it’s a NoSQL database like Neo4j.

Graph databases such as Neo4j are particularly well suited for social media uses because of their ability to draw connections between different pieces of data, but Eifrem said Cisco already is using Neo4j for a large master data management system. And, although not wholly uncommon among NoSQL databases, Eifrem said Neo4j also provides support for both transactions and Java environments, which makes it a nice fit within the Spring developer community comprised of approximately 3 million enterprise developers working programming largely in Java.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based Neo closed a $10.6 million Series B round in September.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user opticalreflex. Graph database model courtesy of Neo Technology.

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but what’s the difference between NoSQL and MySQL? I’m looking into different MySQL cloud solutions, and I’m wondering if NoSQL might be relevant for me as well. Anyone?

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