TUCON 2011 Day 2 Keynote

Today’s keynotes were 1.5 hours less than yesterday’s, but still a hefty 2 hours long. Some of the highlights:

Ashok Vemuri of Infosys gave the opening keynote on innovation. He discussed how technology is making a difference in the developing world, such as mobile branchless banking in Kenya, and how the human qualities of mind, mindset, character and luck can have a huge impact if properly leveraged. Innovation is critical to maintain a competitive edge in any industry: new products, services and processes can lead to increased efficiencies and increased revenues. In many cases, innovation can end up transforming industries or even creating entirely new industries, and it’s necessary to take risks in order to embrace these sorts of disruptive conditions. To foster innovation, Infosys focuses on simplification, adaptability and collaboration as pervasive values within their own organization, and with their customers and partners. Although this was basically one big advertisement for Infosys, it was a good summary of some of the factors and environments that contribute to innovation. Not, however, particularly inspiring or uplifting (as Vinnie tweeted).

Continuing on the hit parade of major partners, Chris Robinson of KPMG was up next to talk about innovation in banana peeling. No, really. His point – which was one of the points also made by Vemuri – was that some of their important innovations come from their youngest employees. Instead of focusing on innovation, however, Robinson talked about recruiting and retaining employees, and the impact of social media on that. This was the usual pro-millennials crap: boomers are too old to learn the new ways of doing things, only digital natives can live comfortably with social, blah, blah, blah. It was exactly this argument that led me to abandon the Enterprise 2.0 conference over a year ago and stop attending Don Tapscott keynotes. The fact is that if you reward people for maintaining the status quo, as KPMG undoubtedly does with their partners and senior employees, then they will work hard at doing things in exactly the same way as they have been doing for years. Different incentives and different motivations lead to different results. News flash: even we old people can embrace and thrive on social media.

David Calhoun of Nielsen was the first customer on stage today, discussing how consumer behavior is changing. As a company that tracks what consumers watch and buy, they collect a massive amount of data on this and provide analytics and expertise about it. They have long relationships with customers (over 70 years in the case of P&G, for example), helping them to craft their marketing and promotion efforts based on multi-year domain knowledge. For Nielsen, information is money, quite literally. Calhoun talked about their road to innovation, which involved replacing some of their batch-oriented legacy systems in order to provide faster, better information to their employees and customers, including leveraging new platforms such as Facebook. He had a great quote on business transformation: make sure that the corporate culture supports your desired outcomes. Really good keynote, definitely the best of the morning.

As the time got a bit long and the Accenture speaker came to the stage, I ducked out. Only so much keynoting I can take at one time.

There are several good breakout sessions today that I plan to attend, including ones on Nimbus and AMX/BPM, plus a few 1:1 meetings with TIBCO customers, so watch for more on that. Also, you can follow the Twitter at three different hashtags: the official one is #tucon2011, but people have been using #tucon11 and #tucon as well, so you may want to use a compound search for all of them.

TIBCO Acquisitions With Tom Laffey: OpenSpirit, Loyalty Lab and Nimbus

Tom Laffey, EVP of products and technology, moderated a session highlighting three of TIBCO’s recent acquisitions: OpenSpirit, Loyalty Lab and Nimbus.

Clay Harter, CTO of OpenSpirit (which was acquired by TIBCO a year ago), discussed their focus on delivering data and integration applications to the oil and gas industry. Their runtime framework provided a canonical data model over a heterogeneous set of data stores, and their desktop applications integrated with spatial data products such as ESRI’s ArcGIS and Schlumberger’s remote sensing. Due to their knowledge of the specialized data sources, they have a huge penetration into 330+ oil companies and relationships into industry-specific ISVs. In October, they will release a BusinessWorks plugin for OpenSpirit to make oil and gas technical data available through the TIBCO ESB. They are also prototyping a Spotfire extension for OpenSpirit for visualizing and analyzing this data, which is pretty cool – I worked as a field engineer in oil and gas in the early 80’s, and the sensing and visualization of data was a whole different ball game then, mostly black magic. OpenSpirit’s focus is on reducing exploration costs and increasing safely through better analysis of the petrotechnical data, particularly through interdisciplinary collaboration. From TIBCO’s standpoint, they were building their energy vertical, and the acquisition of OpenSpirit brings them expertise and credibility in that domain.

Keith Rose, formerly president of Loyalty Lab and now leading the sales efforts in that area since their acquisition by TIBCO, presented on their event-driven view of managing customer loyalty, particularly loyalty programs such as those used by airlines and retailers. They have a suite of products that support marketers in terms of visualizing and analyzing loyalty-related data, and building loyalty programs that can leverage that information. Their focus on events – the core of real-time and one-to-one loyalty marketing programs – was likely the big reason for the TIBCO acquisition, since TIBCO’s event and messaging infrastructure seems like a natural fit to feed into Loyalty Lab’s analysis and programs. Spotfire for visualization and analysis of data also makes a lot of sense here, if they can work out how to integrate that with their existing offerings. With 99% of their customers on a hosted cloud solution, they may also want to consider how a move to TIBCO’s cloud platform can benefit them and integrate with other initiatives that their customers may have.

Less than a month ago, Nimbus was acquired by TIBCO, and Mark Cotgrove, a founder and EVP, gave us a briefing on their product and why it made sense for TIBCO to acquire them. Nimbus provides tools for process discovery and analysis, including the 80% (or so) of an organization’s activities that are manual and are likely to remain manual. Currently, the automated activities are handled with enterprise applications and automated BPM (such as AMX/BPM), but the manual ones are managed with a mix of office productivity software (Word, PowerPoint, Visio) and business process analysis tools. Furthermore, end-to-end processes range back and forth between manual and automated activities as they progress through their lifecycle, such that often a single process instance ends up being managed by a variety of different tools. Nimbus provides what are essentially storyboards or guided walkthroughs for business processes: like procedures manuals, but more interactive. These “intelligent operations manuals” can include steps that will instruct the user to interact with a system of some sort – for example, an ERP system, or a BPMS such as AMX/BPM – but documents all of the steps including paper handling and other manual activities. Just as a BPMS can be an orchestration of multiple integrated systems, Nimbus Control can be an orchestration of human activities, including manual steps and interaction with systems. There are a few potential integration points between Nimbus and a few different TIBCO products: metrics in the context of a process using Spotfire; exporting discovered processes from Nimbus to BusinessStudio; instantiating an AMX/BPM process from Nimbus; worker accessing a Nimbus operations manual for instructions at the step in an AMX/BPM process; collaborative process discovery using tibbr; and tibbr collaboration as part of a manual process execution. Some or all of these may not happen exactly like this, but there is some interesting potential here. There’s also potential within an organization for finding opportunities for AMX/BPM implementation through process discovery using Nimbus.

An interesting view of three different acquisitions, based on three very different rationales: industry vertical; horizontal application platform; and expansion of core product functionality. TIBCO is definitely moving from their pure technology focus to one that includes verticals and business applications.

TIBCO Product Strategy With Matt Quinn

Matt Quinn, CTO, gave us the product strategy presentation that will be seen in the general session tomorrow. He repeated the “capture many events, store few transactions” message as well as the five key components of a 21st century platform that we heard from Murrary Rode in the previous session; this is obviously a big part of the new messaging. He drilled into their four broad areas of interest from a product technology standpoint: event platform innovation, big data and analytics, social networking, and cloud enablement.

In the event platform innovation, they released BusinessEvents 5.0 in April this year, including the embedded TIBCO Datagrid technology, temporal pattern matching, stream processing and rules integration, and some performance and big data optimizations. One result is that application developers are now using BusinessEvents to build applications from the ground up, which is a change in usage patterns. For the future, they’re looking at supporting other models, such as BPMN and rule models, integrating statistical models, improving queries, improving the web design environment, and providing ActiveMatrix deployment options.

In ActiveMatrix, they’ve released a fully integrated stack of BusinessWorks, BPM and ServiceGrid with broader .Net and C++ support, optimized for large deployments and with better high-availability support and hot deployment capabilities. AXM/BPM has a number of new enhancements, mostly around the platform (such as the aforementioned HA and hot deployment), with their upcoming 1.2 release providing some functional enhancements such as customer forms and business rules based on BusinessEvents. We’ll see some Nimbus functionality integration before too much longer, although we didn’t see that roadmap; as Quinn pointed out, they need to be cautious about positioning which tools are for business users versus technical users. When asked about case management, he said that “case management brings us into areas where we haven’t yet gone as a company and aren’t sure that we want to go”. Interesting comment, given the rather wild bandwagon-leaping that has been going on in the ACM market by BPM and ECM vendors.

The MDM suite has also seen some enhancements, with ActiveSpaces integration and collaborative analytics with Spotfire, allowing MDM to become a hub for reference data from the other products. I’m very excited to see that one-click integration between MDM and AMX/BPM is on the roadmap; I think that MDM integration is going to be a huge productivity boost for overall process modeling, and when I reviewed AMX/BPM last year, I liked their process data modeling stated that “the link between MDM and process instance data needs to be firmly established so that you don’t end up with data definitions within your BPMS that don’t match up with the other data sources in your organization”. In fact, the design-time tool for MDM is now the same as that used for business object data models that I saw in AMX/BPM, which will make it easier for those who move across the data and process domains.

TIBCO is trying to build out vertical solutions in certain industries, particularly those where they have acquired or built expertise. This not only changes what they can package and offer as products, but changes who (at the customer) that they can have a relationship with: it’s now a VP of loyalty, for example, rather than (or in addition to) someone in IT.

Moving on to big data and analytics technology advances, they have released FTL 2.0 (low-latency messaging) to reduce inter-host latency below 2.2 microseconds as well as provide some user interface enhancements to make it easier to set up the message exchanges. They’re introducing TIBCO Web Messaging to integrate consumer mobile devices with TIBCO messaging. They’ve also introduced a new version of ActiveSpaces in-memory data grid, providing big data handling at in-memory speeds by easing the integration with other tools such as event processing and Spotfire.

They’ve also released Spotfire 4.0 visual analytics, with a bit focus on ease of use and dashboarding, plus tibbr integration for social collaboration. In fact, tibbr is being used as a cornerstone for collaboration, with many of the TIBCO products integrating with tibbr for that purpose. In the future, tibbr will include collaborative calendars and events, contextual notifications, and other functionality, plus better usability and speed. Formvine has been integrated with tibbr for forms-based routing, and Nimbus Control integrates with tibbr for lightweight processes.

Quinn finished up discussing their Silver Fabric cloud platform to be announced tomorrow (today, if you count telling a group of tweet-happy industry analysts) for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments.

Obviously, there was a lot more information here that I could possibly capture (or that he could even cover, some of the slides just flew past), and I may have to get out of bed in time for his keynote tomorrow morning since we didn’t even get to a lot of the forward-looking strategy. With a product suite as large as what TIBCO has now, we need much more than an hour to get through an analyst briefing.

TIBCO Corporate Strategy Session with Murray Rode

I’m in Vegas this week at TUCON, TIBCO’s user conference, and this afternoon I’m at the analyst event. For the corporate strategy session, they put the industry analysts and financial analysts together, meaning that there were way too many dark suits in the room for my taste (and my wardrobe).

Murray Rode, COO, gave us a good overview presentation on the corporate strategy, touching on market factors, their suite of products, and their growth in terms of products, geographies and verticals. Definitely, event-driven processes are a driving force behind businesses these days – matching with the “responsive business” message I saw at the Progress conference last week – and TIBCO sees their product suite as being ideally positioned to serve those needs.

Rode defined the key components of a 21st century platform as:

  • Automation (SOA, messaging, BPM) as core infrastructure
  • Event processing
  • Social collaboration
  • Analytics
  • Cloud

Their vision is to be the 21st century middleware company, continuing to redefine the scope and purpose of middleware, and to provide their customers with the “2-second advantage” based on event processing, real-time analytics and process management. They see the middleware market as taking a bite out of the application development platforms and out of the box suites by providing higher-functioning, more agile capabilities, and plan to continue their pure-play leadership in middleware.

Looking at their performance in verticals, financial services is now only 25% of their business as they diversify into telecom, government, energy, retail and other market segments. This is an interesting point, since many middleware (including many BPM) vendors grew primarily in financial services, and have struggled to break out of that sector in a significant way.

From a product standpoint, their highest growth is happening in CEP, analytics and MDM, while core stable growth continues in BPM and SOA. They are starting to see new growth in cloud, tibbr, low-latency messaging and Nimbus to drive their future innovation.

They see their key competitors as IBM and Oracle, and realize that they’re the small fish in that pond; however, they see themselves as being more innovative and in touch with current trends, and having a better pure-play focus on infrastructure. Their strategy is to keep defining the platform through a culture of continuous innovation, so as not to become a one-hit wonder like many other now-defunct (or acquired) middleware vendors of the past; to maximize sales execution strengths for growth by setting vertical go-to-market strategies across their product suite; to organize for innovation particularly through cross-selling the newer products into mature opportunities; to cultivate their brand; and to manage for growth and continued profitability, in part by branching beyond their direct sales force, which has been a significant strength for them in the past, to invest in partner and SI relationships to broaden their sales further.

Rode spoke briefly about acquisitions (we’re slated for a longer session on this later today), and positioned Nimbus as having applicability to core infrastructure in terms of analytics and events, not just BPM. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. In general, their focus is on smaller acquisitions to complement and enhance their core offering, rather than big ones that would be much harder to align with their current offerings.

TIBCO Now Roadshow: Toronto Edition (Part 2)

We started after the break with Jeremy Westerman, head of BPM product marketing for TIBCO, presenting on AMX BPM. The crowd is a bit slow returning, which I suspect is due more to the availability of Wii Hockey down the hall than to the subject matter. Most telling, Westerman has the longest timeslot of the day, 45 minutes, which shows the importance that TIBCO is placing on marketing efforts for this new generation of their BPM platform. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had 3+ hours of briefing on AMX BPM recently and think that they’ve done a good job of rearchitecting – not just refactoring – their BPM product to a modern architecture that puts them in a good competitive position, assuming that they can get the customer adoption. He started by talking about managing business processes as strategic assets, and the basics of what it means to move processes into a BPMS, then moved on to the TIBCO BPM products: Business Studio for modeling, the on-premise AMX BPM process execution environment, and the cloud-based Silver BPM process execution environment. This built well on their earlier messages about integration and SOA, since many business processes – especially for the financial-biased audience here today – are dependent on integrating data and messaging with other enterprise systems. Business-friendly is definitely important for any BPM system, but the processes also have to be able to punch at enterprise weight.

His explanation of work management also covered optimizing people within the process: maximizing utilization while still meeting business commitments through intelligent routing, unified work lists and process/work management visibility. A BPM system allows a geographically distributed group of resources to be treated as single pool for dynamic tunable work management, so that the actual organizational model can be used rather than an artificial model imposed by location or other factors. This led into a discussion of workflow patterns, such as separation of duties, which they are starting to build into AMX BPM as I noted in my recent review. He walked through other functionality such as UI creation, analytics and event processing; although I’ve seen most of this before, it was almost certainly new to everyone except the few people in the room who had attended TUCON back in May. The BPM booth was also the busiest one during the break, indicating a strong audience interest; I’m sure that most BPM vendors are seeing this same level of interest as organizations still recovering from the recession look to optimize their processes to cut costs and provide competitive advantage.

Ivan Casanova, director of cloud marketing for TIBCO, started with some pretty simple Cloud 101 stuff, then outlined their Silver line of cloud platforms: Silver CAP for developing cloud services, Silver Fabric for migrating existing applications, Silver BPM for process management, and Silver Spotfire for analytics. Some portion of the IT-heavy audience was probably thinking “not in my data centre, dude!”, but eventually every organization is going to have to think about what a cloud platform brings in terms of speed of deployment, scalability, cost and ability to collaborate outside the enterprise. Although he did talk about using Fabric for “private cloud” deployments that leverage cloud utility computing principles for on-premise systems, he didn’t mention the most likely baby step for organizations who are nervous about putting production data in the cloud, which is to use the cloud for development and testing, then deploy on premise. He finished with a valid point about how they have a lot of trust from their customers, and how they’ve built cloud services that suit their enterprise customers’ privacy needs; IBM uses much the same argument about why you want to use an large, established, trusted vendor for your cloud requirements rather than some young upstart.

We then heard from Greg Shevchik, a TIBCO MDM specialist, for a quick review of the discipline of master data management and TIBCO’s Collaborative Information Manager (CIM). CIM manages the master data repositories shared by multiple enterprise systems, and allows other systems – such as AMX BPM – to use data from that single source. It includes a central data repository; governance tools for validation and de-duplication; workflow for managing the data repository; synchronization of data between systems; and reporting on MDM.

Last up for the Toronto TIBCO Now was Al Harrington (who was the mystery man who opened the day), giving us a quick view of the new generation of TIBCO’s CEP product, BusinessEvents. There’s a lot to see here, and I probably need to get a real briefing to do it justice; events are at the heart of so many business processes that CEP and BPM are becoming ever more intertwined.

My battery just hit 7% and we’re after 5pm, so I’ll wrap up here. The TIBCO Now roadshow provides a good overview of their updated technology portfolio and the benefits for customers; check for one coming your way.

TIBCO Now Roadshow: Toronto Edition (Part 1)

TIBCO’s doing a roadshow called TIBCO Now, and because the Toronto one is practically in my backyard – and is at the Hockey Hall of Fame, which I’ve always wanted to visit – I’m here this afternoon to hear about what’s coming up product-wise, and also hear from some of their local customers.

We had a quick update from TIBCO (sorry, missed the name while I was looking for non-existent wifi and getting my tethering set up) on their direction: I love the “two-second advantage” message that I’ve been hearing since their TUCON conference in May, but really dislike the “Enterprise 3.0” nonsense. He had one slide in his presentation that really resonated: “Business is event-based. IT systems are transaction and query-based.” That sums up the difference between how things happen in the real world, and the nature of the systems designed to support those things.

Grant Geminiuc, former CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart (a large Canadian retail store), gave a presentation about the Canadian retail perspective on the two-second advantage. Given that we’re smack in the middle of the financial district, I’m imagining that most of these blue suits belong to the towers above us, but there are common themes about reducing operational costs and increasing revenues that apply to everyone. For Shoppers Drug Mart, the two-second advantage is about the window of opportunity when the customer is in the store or on the website, and having enough information about the customer and their buying history to position a cross-sell or up-sell that will resonate with them. For Canadian Tire, it’s about managing inventory to reduce out-of-stock situations, and expose inventory levels – and purchase capabilities – to customers on a website rather than by going to the store. For Rogers, it’s about back-office and channel integration to enable service bundling, consolidated billing and a single point of self-service provisioning. In short, leverage and integrate assets, and understand your customer.

Tom Laffey, TIBCO’s EVP of products, was up next to talk about their technology. He gave us a review during the analyst session at TUCON, summarized by Matt Quinn the next day; this was mostly a review of that. He outlined four critical requirements for businesses and their technology: handling events on a massive scale; universal application development lifecycle management providing freedom to innovate; integrating people; and deploying what you need, when and where you need it. He gave use the 50,000 foot view of their new and enhanced product suites:

  • ActiveSpaces Suite, including the DataGrid product for an in-memory data management, and the Transactions and Patterns products (both via acquired companies) providing data manipulation; on top of ActiveSpaces, you can run their event-driven architecture or service-oriented architecture
  • FTL, their next generation appliance for extreme low latency message handling (which I think has the coolest name but probably not well-liked by the marketing folks)
  • ActiveMatrix application development platform
  • ActiveMatrix BPM product that I recently reviewed
  • Formvine, a browser-based end-user application creation environment
  • Tibbr, a microblogging tool (think Twitter for the enterprise)
  • Silver Spotfire, a cloud-based data analysis and visualization tool based on their (acquired) Spotfire platform

Next was David Hickman, long-time TIBCO employee and currently in SOA Product Marketing, to cover their SOA strategy. He started with a couple of examples of how their customers have used TIBCO products to create shared services and components, and integrate systems, then moved on to a more detailed view of the ActiveMatrix platform. All AMX products share a single runtime engine, a single design-time interface (Business Studio) and a single administrative console; this reduces complexity for the IT users as well as reducing costs through shared components. He covered the somewhat large list of the AMX products, spending a short time on each one to note what it does, how it fits into the big picture, and the specific benefits of their product over the competition.

Last up before the break, we heard from HP, who is co-sponsoring this shindig as well as being a long-time partner of TIBCO’s, on application lifecycle management. There was no discussion, however, about the lifecycle of HP CEOs.

We’re taking a break now; but I’ll be sticking around because I’d never hear the end of it if I skip Jeremy Westerman’s talk on AMX BPM. Plus, there’s a cocktail reception afterwards.

TIBCO Product Stack and New Releases

We’re overtime on the general session, 2.75 hours without a break, and Matt Quinn is up to talk about the TIBCO product stack and some of the recent releases as well as upcoming releases:

  • Spotfire 3.1
  • BusinessEvents 4.0, with an improved Eclipse-based development environment including a rule debugger, and a multi-threaded engine
  • BEViews (BusinessEvents Views) for creating real-time customizable dashboards for monitoring the high-speed events (as opposed to Spotfire, which can include data from a much broader context)
  • ActiveSpaces Suite for in-memory processing, grid computing and events, with the new AS Transactions and AS Patterns components
  • Silver Suite for cloud deployment, including Fabric, Grid and CAP (Composite Application Platform)
  • PeopleForms, which I saw a brief view of yesterday: a lightweight, forms-based application development environment
  • tibbr, their social microblogging platform; I think that they’re pushing too much of the social aspect here, when I think that their sweet spot is in being able to “follow” and receive messages/events from devices rather than people
  • Silver Analytics
  • ActiveMatrix 3.0, which is an expansion of the lightweight application development platform to make this more of an enterprise-ready
  • ActiveMatrix BPM, which he called “the next generation of BPM within TIBCO” – I’ll have more on this after an in-depth briefing
  • Silver BPM, the cloud-deployable version of BPM
  • Design Collaborator, which is a web-based design discovery tool that will be available in 2011: this appears to be their version of an online process discovery tool, although with more of a services focus than just processes; seems late to be introducing this functionality to the market

I heard much of this yesterday from Tom Laffey during the analyst session, but this was a good refresher since it’s a pretty big set of updates.


We had a brief comment from Tom Laffey in the general session about TIBCO’s new ultra low latency messaging platform to be released by year end, which breaks the microsecond barrier. They’re calling it FTL, which makes my inner (or not so inner) geek giggle with happiness: for sci-fi fans, that’s the acronym for “Faster Than Light” spaceship drives. I love it when technology companies tip a nod to the geeks who use and write about their products, while remaining on topic.

It’s also new (for TIBCO) since it provides content-based routing and structured data support, which are, apparently, just as important as a cool name.

Deutsche Bank’s Wolfgang Gaertner at TUCON

The third keynote speaker this morning was Wolfgang Gaertner, CIO of Deutsche Bank: we’ve moved from international crime-fighting to the somewhat more mundane – but every bit as international and essential – world of banking. Their biggest challenge over the past few years has been to reduce the paper flow that was slowing the communication between their processing centers, reduce processing time, and improve customer service levels: all of which they have achieved. They’ve used TIBCO to integrate their multiple legacy systems, especially those from mergers and acquisitions such as they had with Berliner Bank, where they wanted to maintain the customer brand but integrate the back-end systems to allow for greater efficiency and governance.

They’re using BPM to manage some of the processes, such as special account opening and exception handling, and are finding that the new technology drives new opportunities: as other areas in the bank see what can be done with integration and BPM, they want to have that for their applications as well. They’re also planning to rip out their core legacy systems and replace them with SAP, and use TIBCO for integration and workflow: TIBCO is a big enabler here, since Deutsche Bank now has sufficient experience with TIBCO products to understand how it can be used to help with this technology transformation.


The special guest speaker at this morning’s keynote was Ronald Noble, Secretary General of INTERPOL, speaking about why speed matters in law enforcement, and using technology to stay a step ahead of the criminals.

He engaged the crowd with very funny and completely deadpan humor, but addressed the very serious topic of how the expedient exchange of information between different countries is a crucial part of law enforcement on an international scale: the two second advantage can mean that an immigration agent has the full background of the person that they’re screening in near real-time, from both local and international databases. I’m not a huge fan of much of the “security theater” that happens in the name of airport security, but having this type of information can make a real difference in terms of identifying people traveling on lost and stolen passports, or tracking the international movements of suspected criminals. How that information is used, however, is where human rights violations can occur (a subject that Noble doesn’t address), since suspicion is not the same as conviction, and not all countries treat those suspected of a crime in a humane manner.

This is one of those areas where technology has moral implications, and the impact of using every bit of data about someone in order to make decisions can be a slippery slope in some cases.