Tibco has announced that it will spend $195m to buy Spotfire, a business intelligence company.
This represents a major investment in upgrading its ability to meet a key requirement that arise in large scale mature SOA deployments: The ability to monitor and control the increasing quantity of business relevant information that flows through the network as SOA becomes more pervasive within an enterprise.
In the pre-SOA world, most business processes are completed within a single application. Therefore, in order to get a complete picture of the business processes executing it was sufficient to monitor the applications. In a SOA deployment, this is no longer the case as many business processes are split between applications and much of the information resides in the SOA network and not in applications. Therefore, to re-establish control from both a business and operations management perspective, it is essential to track the messages and processes flows through the network.
This acquisition gives Tibco a major boost of its Business Activity Monitoring capability (it already had Business Factor which presumably will now be retired) which is at least half the solution: allowing the business and IT operations managers to display and analyse the information. The other half is identifying the information to deliver and requires what is called Complex Event Processing: the ability to identify the unusual events or combinations of events that are of interest.
CEP is needed because while there is a potentially huge quantity of information flowing around the network (corresponding to each service invocation and response), from a monitoring and control point of view most of this information is of little interest as it relates to the normal routine operation of business processes. Therefore, the focus is not simply the bulk shipping of all process and message information to a data warehouse but rather the intelligent identification and management of anomalous behaviours (perhaps an order which is so large that it requires special approval or a problem in inventory which is stopping the completion of order processes).
Tibco is also well placed to provide CEP, as it announced last week the second version of its CEP product called BusinessEvents – and I expect to see announcements about how they intend to plug together Spotfire and BusinessEvents.