Following on from the story about Netsuite and GE's partnership - offering the chance for users to build direct integration between industrial IoT and business management - and VMware's latest announcements about providing Unified Hybrid Cloud services, the growing need for more extensive and comprehensive integration between everything and anything emerged once more at last week’s London stop of the Tibco Now Tour.
The realisation is at last taking hold that not just integration, but something more functionally rich that combines integration with flexible collaboration - 'collagration' if you will permit – is now starting to come through as the goal.
Underpinning this from Tibco’s point of view is the increasing use of APIs and the company’s recent acquisition from Intel of API management specialist, Mashery.
The need for this richer, more comprehensive environment comes from two factors, according to Tibco’s CTO, Matt Quinn:
There is now a big need for a fast data platform, one that can deliver usable information as fast as possible, and that really does depend on how you connect things. There is also a shift in where innovation comes from within businesses. It is now drifting down to the prosumer, those domain experts who have a degree of technical expertise, but are by no means experts. There is a growing democratisation of development tools that allows such people to solve today’s business problem themselves.
As part of this trend, he sees cloud strategies in business users at last becoming real rather than just future objectives and dreams. In turn, Quinn also suggested that this is creating not just `cloud’ services but an `atmosphere’ of information and management services.
That, not surprisingly, prompted the obvious notion of naming the next stage as the `infosphere platform.’
This is where the now rebranded Tibco Mashery comes into play. According to Quinn, it adds to the company’s existing expertise with gateway APIs by adding portal API technology. It is now able to offer users a mix of either/and gateway and portal APIs, which he suggested opened up new value channels for users to integrate and exploit new SaaS services such as Netsuite, allowing platform investments to be monetised more easily. Quinn says:
We have done integration for a long time, where our goal has been to offer a rich, if complex, environment for large enterprises which can make the impossible possible. But the addition of Mashery gives us more flexibility, giving us the chance to offer users a more B2C collaborative experience.
Tibco has known Mashery for some time, and even skated round the idea of an acquisition before Intel made its move. The timing then had not seemed right, but when Intel was ready for a parting of the ways the intersession of investment bankers brought the pair together again. As Quinn put it:
Investment bankers – the business equivalent of Facebook for tracking down and re-kindling old flames.
The importance of exploiting APIs was made to the Tibco Now Tour audience by Keith Guttridge, Research Director, Application Architecture & Integration, at analyst company, Gartner. The need has never been greater, he suggested, particularly as the coming of IoT will bring five times the number of connected things into play, where most of them will not be people-related, but will be automated inanimate things.
He sees business to business networks becoming API networks by 2018, and as an example of what that might means sees 50% of the G20 regulators producing open banking standards based on APIs in that time frame. He also sees RESTful APIs being used for 75% of all interoperability requirements in at least 90% of all IoT projects by 2020. Guttridge says:
The goal is the creation of the integrated digital business using Integrated Software as a Service. And the people driving the development will be the citizen integrator.
He also gave the audience some advice on how to get started along this road. The first step, he suggested, is to identify one use case as a test vehicle, and decide what level of `collagration’ is desired. Then check around the company for what existing integration techniques are already being used. Evaluate which approach looks best for achieving the desired level of 'collagration’ for it may be one that is already in use with the company. Only then look outside for alternatives.
As well as the Mashery acquisition, Quinn also introduced the audience to the new Business Works Container Edition, which is utilising Cloud Foundry container and DevOps technologies. He also unveiled a new online service, Tibco Simplr, aimed particularly at the citizen developer community.
Here, the idea is to give business users a set of tools such as connectors and workflow planners with which they can 'click’n’mix’ the cloud services they commonly use in ways that meet their specific work requirements, building the integrations and collaborative services they need.
Extending and broadening this idea a bit further, Tibco has also launched a new developer community website aimed at fostering collaboration between them, the wider citizen developers and the company itself. Quinn says:
We want to be more open with them so that Tibco developers and customer developers can network far more openly and regularly.
As businesses start to really exploit the potential of cloud services, the ability to link together different applications in novel and previously unimaginable combinations will start to demonstrate real value. Then the combination of close integration and flexible collaboration – for which I've offered the term 'collagration' – will be the lynchpin around which it all hangs. Meeting this need would seem to be Tibco’s goal now.