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Tibco Pushes Products Toward Predictive Enterprise

The vendor is building into its integration software the ability to spot, analyze, and act on business processes in real time.

Tibco Software Inc.'s roots go back to the trading rooms on Wall Street, where traders wanted streams of information on their screens in as close to real time as possible. News of a failed anchovy harvest off South America would immediately affect the price of Midwestern soybeans. To be a few minutes behind that news could mean the loss of millions to traders.

As Tibco addressed its annual Strategic Directions user conference in Phoenix last week, it had a message for attendees: "Guess what? The whole world is beginning to look like a trading room floor," said Larry Neumann, director of marketing strategies in an interview before the conference.

Tibco is beginning to build into its integration software the ability to spot, analyze, and act on business processes in real time. To do so, it will enhance its product line between now and mid-2004 with several new products, including Enterprise Management Insight.

EM Insight will be designed to link information gained from monitoring systems, such as an application monitor watching response times on a Web site, to systems-management systems such as Computer Associates' CA-Unicenter or BMC Software's Patrol. The application monitor can tell when response times are increasing and traffic is backing up on the Web site, and system-management consoles show which components of a system have failed or slowed down. "These two types of systems meet at the application, but they don't share information," says Neumann. EM Insight "punches a hole through the wall between them"

EM Insight is scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter, with the first version geared to work with Hewlett-Packard's OpenView network-management system. Follow-up versions will work with CA-Unicenter and Mercury Interactive's Topaz application managers.

An as-yet-unnamed product in prototype will correlate and analyze enterprise events. "There are lots of unstructured things happening all the time," Neumann says. "If you focus just on structured events [such as routine business transactions], you're missing the ad hoc things that are happening."

When the power went out in the Northeast on Aug. 14, businesses needed to know what that meant to their manufacturing lines, their inventories, and their shipment plans. An enterprise event manager would show the cascading effect throughout the business of an unexpected event like a power failure, he says.

More and more monitoring and integration products can capture and analyze events by watching what's happening in the software infrastructure. But Tibco plans to build additional intelligence into its product to build predictions from that analysis. The enterprise event manager is expected to be available by mid-2004, Neumann says.

For predictable and structured business processes, Tibco is trying to break down the barrier between business analysts who understand those processes and the software systems that frequently lie beneath them.

It will improve the Designer interface of its business-process modeler so that it can generate both the business-analyst view of the diagrammed business process and the IT analyst's view of the map of the systems that the process uses. Using one graphical interface, "you'll flip a switch and go from one view to the other. You will be able to see what happens with each step" in the process in the underlying systems, Neumann says.

While business analysts and IT analysts speak different languages, the enhanced Designer "allows them to collaborate on the same set of models," he says.

Tibco also plans to enhance a product it introduced last March, Tibco BusinessFactor, emerging from its acquisition of business activity monitoring software supplier Praja Inc. a year ago. By mid-2004, BusinessFactor will gain more analysis and predictive capabilities by being able to watch events in multiple systems, correlate them, watch for key indicators of business trouble or opportunity, and alert key participants. Business users will be able to build metrics into its monitoring capabilities so that it recognizes a set of seemingly unrelated events and understands their impact on the business.

"It bridges the gap between technology infrastructure and what the business people want to see," says Thomas Joseph, Tibco's chief technology officer.

Analysts say Tibco is charting a course in business-process management that others will follow or already are involved in themselves. "At the moment, Tibco has made the most ambitious public statements on what it's doing in this space," says Gartner analyst Roy Schulte.

Tibco's plans "are right on target with what needs to happen," says Susan Eustis, president of Wintergreen Research, an integration-software research firm. "But IBM is the dominant vendor in the integration space. IBM has even Tibco beat."

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