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For a long time we've been on the brink of having an actually modular server, not just a conceptually modular server. As reflected in a lot of recent discussion on the dev list, I think we are so close we should really work hard to make this a pleasant reality. Some of the steps I see:
Better Spring application management
Investigate OSGI and figure out how it is different from what we are doing, what it can do better, and what is missing from it. Figure out an integration strategy whether it be "run OSGI as an application" or "replace the kernel with OSGI"
Don't break stuff if we start using OSGI more