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Tibco NOW - the interconnection of everything 

Martin Banks Profile picture for user mbanks May 19, 2016
While this is no formal re-structuring of its business, Tibco does seem to to have re-positioned its business to focus on providing users with ways of interconnecting everything, and tools aimed at giving them more usable intelligence out of their data analytics.


It remains fascinating to observe IT systems and software vendors creep ever-closer to an understanding of the fact that, no matter how clever or downright important their technology developments might be, it is still what users want or need to do with it that is the real point.

Tibco continues to be one of the leaders in not only understanding this simple fact, but also applying that understanding.

At this week's Tibco NOW conference in Las Vegas, the company unveiled how it has re-jigged its product and service offerings along conceptual lines more akin to what end users are looking for.

This maps on to what CTO Matt Quinn described as the persona model - which then reveals itself in the same core technologies often being re-packaged to fit the operational needs of the people that will be using them.

So the company's mainstay technologies in integration are being pulled together as suites designed to provide users with everything they are likely to require to achieve the objective of `interconnecting everything'.

Its more recent additions in areas such as Big Data analytics and event processing are now being targeted at providing 'augmented intelligence' to end users with tools which allow business professionals to configure the views of data that they require, without recourse, in most cases, to any code cutting at all.

The company is going with the industry prediction that more than 70% of all workloads will shift to the cloud and that a growing number of interconnects will now be outside the firewall, out at the edge.

What this then points to, as CEO Murray Rode indicated, is an opportunity to meet the growing need for customer-facing edge tools, services and technologies for the users to work with. This includes to data manipulation and transformation tools, which are now complemented by the extensive provision of data visualisation services attached to Spotfire, the company's data analytics application.


It also includes the launch of a  'new' technology solution (which actually uses a 12 year-old process engine technology) for the edge of the Internet of Things (IoT). Known as Project Flogo, it is a very light software tool that can easily be built into or added to IoT sensors, so that they not only have full digital communications for reporting purposes, but also a large measure of programmable self-management.

This is expected to significantly reduce the high levels of data traffic that IoT systems can generate, as well as improve performance by reducing communications latencies. As Rode observed:

The key thing for all now is to be able to automate responses to a fast moving world - real time is the new norm.

This has changed the perspective for Quinn and his development team, as he observed:

We feel we did an OK job over the last five years but I do think we can do better. We also realised that, while we welcome openness, we had in fact become a bit closed. Most of the technologies we use actually came from us. So now we are opening up our products so that users can build their own connections to them.

Another target for development work is the core and edge divide. The goal is to get them both loosely coupled but tightly integrated, while at the same time expanding the platform to be everywhere that users want to use the products and to help them use them in the ways that they want.

This year also sees the largest number of new products and updates to existing products in the company's history. At the core these include a new version of BusinessWorks with new connectors, new versions of BPM and MDM with role-based UIs and dashboards for vertical industries. The company is also introducing a Container Edition of BusinessWorks, combining Docker and its ecosystem with Tibco integration and with Mashery.

Pureplay cloud developments are not forgotten, with the introduction of Cloud Integration offering an environment designed to allow users to connect SaaS services from the likes of Salesforce and Marketo. It also allows users to design an integration once and then re-use and re-purpose it without any more re-engineering than clicking a few on-screen checkboxes.

Project Flogo is, according to Quinn, a serious attempt by Tibco to capture a major share of the market for connecting millions of sensors.

This is especially important when many of the current ways of integrating them are pretty dumb. So we put together a small team to build Project Flogo using an ultra-lightweight Golang-based engine. It will be open source so that anyone can use it, and is designed to make building process flows easy and quick.

The process engine is in fact an excellent piece of technology re-use, for it is a re-working of the 12 year PVM process engine that still lies at the heart of several established Tibco products. In its new form it comes out a 3.3 Mbytes of code, which Quinn claims is between 20-50 times lighter in size than other ways of doing it, particularly when using Java.

One of the main tools Tibco has come up with to augment the intelligence that comes from data analytics is the widespread use of data visualization tools, developed within the company at its Gothenburg facility. According to Mark Palmer, the company's SVP engineering for streaming analytics, this is the obvious choice for getting the most out of the results that come from Spotfire, the company's analytics system.

Spotfire has had visualization tools added to provide a wide choice of visual representations of the data it generates. As such this is hardly a new idea, but Tibco has taken it a step further by also adding tools that use the data the users see to drive other applications directly. For example, the the keynote demonstration showed how data could be analysed to locate a particular cohort of potential customers and the results, using Tibco's Simplr tools, linked to other services - in the demo case, Marketo.

As part of this package, it has also added a range of new tools for data preparation and transformation.

Also, analytics at scale, using visualisations to drive an integrated promotion campaign across the market, the supply chain. Again, nothing actually new here but the pulling together of all the needed features and tools to create an collaborative entity running in and around Spotfire. The key thing is to make it as code-free as possible, so the business exec can set up the views and actions they require themselves.

Further out, and an obvious candidate for a prime place in next year's conference, CTO Quinn waved a short preview of the Tibco Graph Database. The server architecture is simple and scales to the hardware users want to run it on. It is now available in a downloadable form from the Tibco website.

My take

Tibco is now really stepping away from being a `technology company' while in no way stepping away from its technology. But it is well aware that even its traditional, long-standing customers are moving away from buying technology that they then endeavour to fit to the tasks they fulfilled. Now they are looking for working solutions as quickly as possible.

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