TIBCO's TUCON conference is just ending in Las Vegas and it's time to take a look at the key takeaways from the conference. If you missed it - replays of the keynotes are available here and I collected two Storify streams that you can find here and here.
This was the 9th TUCON conference and TIBCO claimed it was it's best attended one. Good for the company and good for it's ecosystem. I personally liked the format with two long plenary keynote sessions in the morning - with executives, partners and customers presenting - and then in detail, hands on sessions in the afternoon.
The Integration Conundrum
At the end of the day integration matters - and that's one of the reason why TIBCO is a key player these days - from it's original starting point as the information bus company.
Today enterprises face three fundamental options to solve their integration challenges:
(1) Integrated enterprise software
These enterprises trust their application vendor to provide most - if not all of their automation. The integration problem is solved by their enterprise software vendor. These vendors are the usual suspects - SAP, Oracle, Infor, NetSuite etc.
(2) Enterprise software based integration
These enterprises know, that they can rely on the vendors of scenario (1) to run most of their automation needs, but have to integrate some critical custom systems. Their application vendor's integration platform though is capable enough to address their integration needs - so these enterprises end up using e.g. Oracle's Fusion Middleware, SAP's NetWeaver (or more recently HANA Integration Platform) or Infor's ION plaform.
(3) Integration Vendors
The enterprises in this scenario know, that their enterprise software portfolio is too complex to get any of the vendors popular in scenario (1) to be an option and thus their integration needs are also too complex for these vendors integration platforms to move in the direction of scenario (2). On top of that, these enterprises do not want to become experts in n different integration platforms. So they choose a stand alone integration vendor and that's where e.g. TIBCO, Informatica and Software AG come into the picture, not to forget IBM.
Does the cloud change anything on the above scenarios? Not really it just makes things more complex... as enterprises need to integrate not only on premise - but also towards cloud applications. And that requires the vendors in scenario (3) to provide good enough cloud integration, which brings us back to TIBCO - as this TUCON was really about more cloud adoption for TIBCO.
TIBCO's Big Bets
Through the two days both TIBCO CEO Vivek Ranadive (how do you get an accent on an 'e' on a US keyboard - well you don't, pardon) and CTO Matt Quinn did not get tired at highlighting the big bets that TIBCO is placing on the future:
Screenshot from WebCast
So not surprisingly TIBCO focusses on its strength around events and integration. The BPM angle came a little short in my view - even more the BigData aspect. From my view events and data are not the best friends to each other - events create data, but are data by themselves - and a lot of data is just there - with no trace of the events. And TIBCO considers this data at reand we will see how the BusinessEvents product will handle this kind of data.
The BigData bet
TIBCO plans to address the big data opportunity with a combination of 5 products. Obviously with Spotfire - that see a new release 6.0, and can look into Hadoop tables now. But the key work needs to be done by BusinessWorks - which gets a plug into Hadoop (the same one?), too. And needless to say TIBCO throws in recently acquired StreamBase, through which ideally enterprises would feed their Hadoop clusters, adding BusinessEvents to allow CEP and ActiveSpaces for an in memory acceleration. This all makes sens - but I am not sure if we will see that happening en masse in the near future. A data centric believer would e.g. just use Hadoop and memchache and look for patterns, BusinessEvents will have to prove its value-add over an open source product combination.
Hadoop keeps investing into Spotfire and with version 6 it deserves credit to make it easier for business users to create their own KPIs and dashboards. Coupled with new location based services (as e.g. recently discovered by SAP for HANA) - this creates new and nice visualization capabilities.
Screenshot from WebCast
The new Spotfire Event Analytics product sounded very interesting - but there was no chance to drill much deeper in the keynotes. Would be good to understand what patterns the product can pick up and even more interesting to learn how it then creates analytic applications.
And finally - Spotfire makes its first steps to the cloud with three tiered offerings - as a full version in the cloud with an enterprise product, a work group level product and a personal product. Smart to tier the capabilities based on need - but we need more detail if the slicing is leaving the products powerful enough for their respective target groups.
tibbr keeps growing
And TIBCO's social product tibbr added mainly content management capabilities. With tibbr Pages, users can now create, publish, share and find content in the enterprise. But when you create content - you need files - so there is also tibbr Files - that integrates with all the usual end user content management tools like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Huddle (new partnership announced) and Sharepoint. And kudos to the tibbr team to realize that when you have files, you have often also to do work with them - so there is tibbr Tasks (are they paying attention at Box?).
Screenshot from WebCast
And the new tibbr UI and dashboard look pretty clean to me. The question remains - who wants a Switzerland for social - there is certainly a market for it - the question is how large is that market and how much of a challenge is it to build out all the integration features needed to maintain the neutral social platform status.
So why hail?
TIBCO has an amazing portfolio of products to help and assist the enterprise, it really can move the needle for enterprise performance - but in that lie also two key challenges.
The first one is messaging and education. The speed with which Matt Quinn had to rush through key product innovations (I particularly liked Project Austin) was either a consequence of bad time management and / or allotment - or - more my guess - the problem of a lot of things going on.
Screenshot from WebCast
So the newly appointed CMO, Lori Wright, has her work cut out on how to streamline messaging, time management at user conference and customer education.
And the 2nd aspect is that this is a lot of product to build, maintain and keep enhancing. And while TIBCO spends well on R&D - with approximately 15% of revenue going to research - to make all customers and all products successful must be a day to day challenge for the product developers.
The good news is - hail may not come down from the sky as hail, but as much needed rain, it's back to TIBCO's management to make sure the weather is forecasted right for customers, partners and employees.
A very interesting user conference with some key sparks of innovation in the right places. Concerns remain if events are the right answer to tackle the big data deluge and how the company can maintain and extend it's extensive product portfolio.
[Disclosure: I did not attend the TUCON conference in person - 4 weeks in a row in Las Vegas would have been too much even for me - but followed public available sources, peers on site, the video stream and Twitter.]