Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Tibco: Wrapping Metal Around Software

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 4, 2009

(Tibco is a founding sponsor of SVW)

Tibco Software has launched its first hardware product -- a messaging appliance that can do the work of ten servers for one-tenth the cost. Its an interesting move for Tibco and it will be interesting to see how data centers react to it.

In terms of performance and cost, it is lucky timing since the market is predisposed to such things. Capital efficiency in data centers is more valuable now than it ever was.

The Tibco Messaging Appliance P-7500 encapsulates the Tibco messaging software within chips. That means the hardware doesn't need to deal with latency from operating system tasks -- it runs at the speed of Moore's Law.

Software running on general purpose microprocessors, as in servers, suffers from a lot of system latency. By incorporating the software into silicon, the messaging software can execute 10 times faster.

Also, the Tibco hardware appliance is perfectly tuned to the task. Normally, data centers have to provision servers and fine-tune them for running each software application -- that takes time and is far less efficient than doing it with hardware.

Tibco can update the software in the hardware through simple online connections thanks to reprogrammable silicon. Any improvements in software performance can be automatically transmitted and updated on customer installations.

Tibco's labs have tested the P-7500 handling 10 million messages per second -- software apps on a server top out at 1 million messages per second.

Tibco says that the hardware appliance replaces up to ten servers, and at a fraction of their cost, power consumption, licensing costs, plus no administration, and lower maintenance costs.

The hardware was developed as a response to customer behavior. Tibco noticed that its customers in financial services were moving IT equipment from New Jersey to Manhattan--some of the most expensive real-estate in the country. They were doing it to try to remove some of the latency in their messaging applications.

Vivek Ranadive, CEO of Tibco, says that for many of his customers, "the speed of light was not fast enough." The short distance between Manhattan and New Jersey was too long for some of Tibco's customers.

That's what led to discussions with those customers and the genesis of the the P-7500 -- Tibco's first hardware product.

Financial services companies are a target market for Tibco and they have been battered by financial events, which should make them a prime market for the P-7500. And there are other sectors that have similar needs. Ram Menon, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing says Tibco's customer base has common requirements.

"It's not only financial companies but also large manufacturers who have high speed messaging needs. They are running large logistic chains and that generates a large number of messages."

It'll be interesting to see how Tibco's novel approach will be accepted by enterprise IT. These are tough times to sell infrastructure IT, but so far, Tibco has been doing very well. It recently had a stellar financial quarter with record profits.

Tibco is one of those companies that has been thriving despite the gloom.

Here is the Tibco news release:

TIBCO’s First Hardware Delivers Quantum Leap Performance - Changing the Game for Enterprise IT

TIBCO Messaging Appliance™ P-7500 Shatters Messaging Speed Barrier Through Hardware-Only As Software Reaches Its Limits

PALO ALTO, Calif., February 4, 2009 – TIBCO Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TIBX) delivered the first hardware offering in the company’s history, TIBCO Messaging Appliance™ P-7500. This radical new offering from a recognized messaging industry leader shatters a previously insurmountable messaging latency problem by taking an approach that lowers latency, improves predictability, and provides increased throughput by implementing TIBCO messaging in hardware.

"Messaging is the backbone of communications between IT systems. Whether used as a way to integrate applications or to disseminate data across systems in real time, message volumes are exploding," according to Maureen Fleming, program director, business process management and middleware at IDC. "Messaging appliances promise to improve both the cost-performance ratio and manageability of messaging and are an important next step in the evolution of this mission critical technology."

Extending TIBCO’s 25-year history of continuous innovation, TIBCO Messaging Appliance™ P-7500 delivers a number of key metrics that will change the game for customers:

· 10X increase in messaging volume of current software-only solutions

· 50% reduction in base latency

· 10X increase in the predictability of data flows and performance

“Even in a period of turmoil in financial markets, the one constant is a steady increase in trading volume,” said Tom Laffey, executive vice president, products and technology at TIBCO. “As a result, data-intensive industries—financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, government and major online commerce companies—need lower latency and increased throughput at lower costs.”

Messaging is Growing Fast and Furious

Mainstream messaging volumes in enterprise IT today routinely reach the level of 1 million events per second, supporting tens to hundreds of services. This volume is expected to experience a quantum leap soon. Leading-edge companies are already witnessing volumes of 5 million events per second, and this level is expected to rise to 10 million-plus very soon, often supporting thousands of services.

“The messaging infrastructure backbone is at its breaking point,” continued Laffey. “Software has reached its limit in ultra-low latency messaging, focusing increasing importance on the hardware “plumbing” to deliver future performance increases.”

In addition to high performance, ultra-low latency messaging requirements, TIBCO Messaging Appliance also helps TIBCO Rendezvous® customers reduce costs and gain efficiency in the servers required to support a Rendezvous® network. Through the use of TIBCO Messaging Appliance, customers can achieve a 10-to-1 reduction in the number of servers required by their messaging infrastructure, reinforcing TIBCO’s commitment to Green IT.

“The P-7500 is the result of our work with literally hundreds of customers worldwide in all major geographies and markets. It addresses an area in critical need of a breakthrough idea. This is just the first in a series of hardware products that TIBCO plans to offer to its customers,” Laffey concluded.

TIBCO Messaging Appliance employs a pure hardware approach, utilizing field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technologies. TIBCO Messaging Appliance is offered in three different network configurations: 4-1Gb Ethernet connections, 8-1Gb Ethernet connections, and 2 - 10Gb Ethernet connections. Its 375W power consumption delivers new power-use efficiencies, and is the same size as a standard 4U server unit.

TIBCO Messaging Appliance preserves the investment customers have made in their Rendezvous applications by providing drop-in compatibility with existing versions of Rendezvous client libraries. TIBCO Messaging Appliance includes redundant power supplies, fans, and other mechanical components to protect against failure within each appliance, Additionally, it adds built-in hardware fault tolerance for increased reliability and active-active failover between two appliances.

ABOUT TIBCO

TIBCO technology digitized Wall Street in the '80s with the event-driven "Information Bus" software, which helped make real-time business a strategic differentiator in the '90s. Today, TIBCO's infrastructure software gives customers the ability to constantly innovate by connecting applications and data in a service-oriented architecture, streamlining activities through business process management, and giving people the information and intelligence tools they need to make faster and smarter decisions, what we call The Power of Now®. TIBCO serves more than 3,000 customers around the world with offices in more than 20 countries and an ecosystem of over 200 partners. Learn more at www.tibco.com.

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