Tibco Brings Real-Time to E-Commerce

Tibco Software Inc. (www.tibco.com) is enhancing its position as a provider of middleware technology for enterprises wanting to become real-time e-businesses.

Tibco recently released the 2.0 version of TIB/ActiveEnterprise, a suite of products that helps companies connect back-end and front-end systems through a gradual adoption of the suite.

The box includes enterprise messaging, application and technology adapters, message brokering, business process automation, content aggregation and enterprise portal software.

"One of the first things you want to know after you buy a computer [on the Internet] is when you're going to get it," says Shankar Iyer, product management director at Tibco Software. "You need real-time information. We do e-business infrastructure software that aggregates back-ends to front-ends in real time."

The suite comes with TIB/Adapter SDK 2.0, a kit that builds adapters that tie together disparate applications and systems and helps them communicate in real-time. The TIB/Message Broker 2.0 uses XML-based schemas for data integration. This simplifies data transformation and mapping through usability enhancements and support for complex mapping.

TIB/Portal for Yahoo! is a packaged portal that integrates external and internal corporate content alongside My Yahoo! content. The homepage enables online business users to access proprietary corporate offerings such as supply chain status, benefits summaries, accounts payable information and employee directories through a personalized portal.

The TIB/Adapter for Active Database can provide proactive database notification that, in turn, uses database events to activate event-driven business processes. This can affect enterprise functions that include application and database integration, database notification and multisite database replication. Finally TIB/Repository provides a standard interface to capture and store metadata from heterogeneous systems and applications in the XML format.

Iyer says the notion of all this technology working together is good, but realistically the operation can't take place over night. There is simply too much change going into the overall middleware environment. "The truth is you've got to overhaul the engines while the plane is still flying," Iyer says. "We integrate with business systems in anywhere from six weeks to three months. We've been designed from day one for this type of [incremental] deployment."

The whole notion of being a competitor today and partner tomorrow makes it extremely important to have a real-time infrastructure.

"Everyone's sensing that e-business has a crying need for this," says Ed Acly, director of middleware research at International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com). "When you get to look at a product like ActiveEnterprise, it plays a very important role. This is one form of infrastructure that's needed for e-business."

Acly points out, however, the network bandwidth used to continuously update numerous data sources in real-time is already a problem, and this is just the beginning for companies trying this type of solution. That makes the idea of wide deployment a scary proposal for those who value every byte that flows through their pipes.

Tibco has developed pragmatic general multicast (PGM) technology that will be integrated into routers from Cisco Systems Inc. beginning next year. PGM Reliable Transport Protocol, which will become a standard on Cisco routers and has been submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF, www.ietf.org), sends reliable multicast packets through the routers that will natively support it.

Tibco's Iyer compares PGM to what TCP did for point-to-point Internet communications. While TCP provides reliable one-to-one connectivity over networks, PGM Reliable Transport Protocol provides reliable connections for a one-to-many model where users send just one message to as many recipients as are needed. This still doesn't address bandwidth concerns, but more to the reliability of sending messages in this infrastructure.