On February 4th 2009, TIBCO Software announced their first hardware product in the history of the company. TIBCO Messaging Appliance P-7500 can be thought of as a hardware version of Rendezvous, the company's well-know proprietary messaging product that is used by many financial other sector organisations. Philip Tree, TIBCO's Director of Corporate Communications explained that the Messaging Appliance contained the Rendezvous code embedded in chips, and that it was able to replace 10 existing servers that were running Rendezvous with no change to the systems running.
TIBCO as a company have built their reputation on their ability to come up with innovate products that solve business problems. Rourke McNamara, TIBCO's Director of Product Marketing, spoke about software alone not being enough to cope with all the demands of customers for messaging. This change, he explained, had been caused by the increase in the volume of messages being sent, as well as the fluctuating latency of different messages and the current cost of ownership. This led TIBCO to do their research and development based on the use of hardware with the software embedded. The Messaging Appliance P-7500 functions rather like a network appliance with the front end dealing with the movement of messages, whilst the back end of the appliance is more similar to an existing server and is used to manage the front-end.
McNamara explained that the Messaging Appliance gave a 10 times improvement on messaging throughput, with 10 times greater predictability and 2 times less latency. The product also has a green side effect as it uses a tenth of the power and space.
The Messaging Appliance is also the first TIBCO product that is leased rather than purchased—another useful cost win as it is therefore on the operational budget rather than the capital budget. The cost of the lease is fixed dependent on a customer's network. McNamara said that TIBCO were currently working on a TCO calculator to help customers work out the potential cost savings.
How do you keep the product updated? The Rendezvous logic is contained with in FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) and therefore TIBCO can ship software upgrades over the internet or on media that can then be loaded through a management console for the device.
Tree, during the Q and A, said that TIBCO were, based on customer feedback, looking at a leasing price model for software. Additionally TIBCO were looking at other areas in their portfolio which could be turned into a similar hardware solutions.
The Messaging Appliance is obviously targeted at existing big users of Rendezvous where it makes good economic sense to consider this new option. This is not only in financial services but in telecoms and other sectors. What is not easy to see is whether TIBCO will also look to take to non-Rendezvous prospects and how the economics plus throughput/predictability/latency improvements will work. Probably a case of watch this space.