You would think that Tibco, an early innovator and leader in EAI, would be heavily promoting the addition of open-standard Web services interfaces to its traditional messaging architecture and library of EAI adapters. But because Web services interfaces have become mandatory for all integration products it has become tough to differentiate based on open protocols. So Tibco is focusing on enabling the dynamic enterprise by putting BPM (business process management) and analytics functionality higher in the stack.
In the early days of the real-time enterprise — the 1990s — Tibco pioneered messaging and integration technologies for demanding markets such as brokerage trading desks, where packets of information had to be there in a fraction of a second. The vendor then prospered by packaging these tools and selling them as part of an integration server that could tie together any number of diverse applications and legacy systems.
Today, Tibco and other pure-play integration vendors, including WebMethods, Vitria, and SeeBeyond, are on a collision course with application vendors, which have realized the value in providing integration middleware themselves. Other vendors, such as IBM and BEA Systems, pose a threat as they incorporate both integration and higher-level capabilities into the application server. (For more on the demand driving these offerings, see Dawn of the Dynamic Enterprise.)
On one hand, many see Tibco as having stronger real-time messaging and portal capabilities than its pure-play EAI competitors. On the other hand, according to Roy Schulte, a vice president and analyst at Gartner in Stamford, Conn., the company has no inside track just because it opens up its software to third parties through Web services and XML. “That’s actually kind of the point of Web services,” explains Schulte. “You can’t differentiate — it’s like trying to differentiate with your support of TCP/IP.”
Instead, the vendor is developing vertical, market-specific solutions that try to help enterprise IT leaders leverage the data already running through their pipes. Under the banners of “business agility” and “dynamic reconfigurability,” Tibco has developed BPM tools, such as BusinessWorks, that allow enterprise IT managers to define modularized business logic components and then to quickly and flexibly reuse them in different business processes as the need arises (for example, if a product or partner changes or in a mergers and acquisitions situation).
Tibco also recently introduced a business optimization dashboard product called BusinessFactor, which aims to deliver real-time performance management technology, for example, for greater supply-chain visibility. Tibco’sChief Strategist Ram Menon describes it as “closed-loop integration: Connect it together, see what’s going on, understand it, and react to it.”
The big question is whether Tibco can maintain its application-neutral status as it adds more application-like functionality, such as performance management, to its middleware. According to AMR Research’s Eric Austvold in Cambridge, Mass., the vendor will find out soon enough. “There’s a convergence that’s going on here,” explains Austvold. Tibco must expand beyond integration technology because “what you want to be able to do in a composite application is pull out the relevant information and present it to a decision maker. If you’re just moving data, you’re only solving problems for the technician.”
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