TIBCO's New Appliance Competes With IBM's - InformationWeek

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2/4/2009
05:04 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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TIBCO's New Appliance Competes With IBM's

TIBCO today announced its first-ever hardware offering, the TIBCO Messaging Appliance P-7500. The device is said to deliver 10 times higher processing capacity and a 50-percent reduction in message latency compared to conventional ESBs. What TIBCO didn't mention is that IBM introduced an appliance-based ESB way back in 2006. But that's not to say that TIBCO doesn't have something to crow about.

As explained in this story, TIBCO today made a splashy announcement about its first-ever hardware offering, the TIBCO Messaging Appliance P-7500. Well detailed are all the important facts about this appliance-based implementation of TIBCO's venerable Rendezvous messaging software: 10 times higher message volume capacity, a 50-percent reduction in message latency, and better predictability than message bus deployments on general-purpose hardware. What's more, the 4U box will bring data centers comparable message processing capacity with one tenth the physical footprint and one tenth the power consumption of conventional deployments (and even better if you're replacing really old servers).

What's missing from the story is competitive context. To wit, TIBCO's biggest competitor, IBM, entered the appliance-based message bus market way back in 2006. But that's not to say that TIBCO doesn't have something to crow about - at least for now.Big Blue got into the messaging appliance business the way it seems to enter most markets: through acquisition. In this case it was the DataPower purchase in October 2005. The company's three appliances were given a basic rebranding "Blue Wash" and relaunched in May 2006 as the WebSphere DataPower XML Security Gateway XS40, WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance X150 and WebSphere DataPower Accelerator XA35.

The competition to the P-7500 is the Integration Appliance X150, but TIBCO contends it has it all over that old box. "IBM's box handles around one million messages per second with 4-byte messages," says Rourke McNamara, director of product marketing for SOA at TIBCO. "The P-7500 can handle 10 million 50-byte messages per second, so with messages less than one tenth the size we're using for our benchmark, IBM is claiming one tenth the performance."

I use the words "old box" because I'm not aware of any upgrades in the WebSphere DataPower line since it bowed in 2006 (comments welcome below if I'm wrong). I'm guessing the security-oriented XS40 and XML-accelerator XA35 boxes are based on the same underlying hardware as the ESB appliance, so it might be harder for IBM to quickly upgrade to new hardware, but there's little doubt IBM will respond.

ESBs are used for message-based integration, and they're essential in SOA environments. These boxes are fast and easy to deploy, but they're primarily aimed at high-performance environments. Financial services, for example, look for millisecond advantages in speed to gain a trading edge in fast-moving markets. If TIBCO has a faster box, IBM will naturally join the arms race. And hardware being hardware, I'd guess that IBM can quickly upgrade hardware. McNamara counters that IBM's PC-like "general-purpose hardware" won't be able to match TIBCO purpose-built device (built by Solace Systems), which is more like a high-speed router or network switch.

TIBCO didn't disclose pricing, but McNamara says it has moved to a new pricing model by leasing the appliance at a fixed fee for the first year and then lower fees for each additional year. That suggests to me that TIBCO intends to make it easy for customers to swap in higher-performing boxes as they become available. Time will tell if IBM responds on that front as well.TIBCO today announced its first-ever hardware offering, the TIBCO Messaging Appliance P-7500. The device is said to deliver 10 times higher processing capacity and a 50-percent reduction in message latency compared to conventional ESBs. What TIBCO didn't mention is that IBM introduced an appliance-based ESB way back in 2006. But that's not to say that TIBCO doesn't have something to crow about.

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