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Summary:

Overlooked in the buzz following a Reuters report that acquisition talks between HP and enterprise software vendor Tibco have fizzled out is the possibility that the loss represents a setback in HP CEO Leo Apotheker’s grand cloud computing vision, as well as HP’s big data strategy.

bridge collapse

Tibco’s reported rejection of buyout offer from software giant HP could be a blow to HP’s grand plans for cloud computing and its recent push into the big data space. After Reuters reported on the breakdown of talks between the two companies Tuesday, much analysis has focused on Tibco’s low-latency messaging and middleware products and the related stable of large financial services customers. That’s fair enough, given the amount those lines contribute to Tibco’s bottom line, but lost in the mix are Tibco’s cloud application platform and data analytics software, which could have been a great fit within HP, and conceivably played a big role in HP’s desire for Tibco.

Tibco’s cloud application platform, called Silver, is a mix of acquired intellectual property from DataSynapse in early 2009 and some internal development. Silver is like Platform-as-a-Service software for developing and hosting composite applications and business processes. Composite applications combine loosely coupled business-specific services to achieve the functionality once achieved through siloed, tiered application architectures. Silver runs in eitherthe public cloud or customers’ private clouds through a version called Silver Fabric.

Auto-scaling and other PaaS must-haves are the result of Tibco’s FabricServer software that came along with the DataSynapse acquisition. DataSynapse was a grid computing vendor that built up a solid reputation in the financial world with its GridServer product before turning its knowledge in automation and scalability to more-typical enterprise applications.

Tibco Silver could have made a nice fit within HP’s cloud plans, especially for HP’s significant, large-enterprise customer base. I don’t think HP stands much of a chance of winning over the web developer community with its cloud efforts, and I suspect HP knows this. But an offering that targets enterprise applications, both in terms of development and capabilities, could help HP hang with IBM and Microsoft in bringing enterprise developers to the cloud. That few have heard of Silver is no big surprise — it’s relatively young within Tibco, which is a relatively small company in its own right — but if it has actual enterprise appeal, HP has the marketing that could make it shine.

The rumored Tibco courtship also entails a big data angle, which comes in the form of the company’s Spotfire business intelligence and analytics software. Here’s Tibco’s description of the product:

Spotfire puts powerful models and predictive analytics “under the hood,” smoothly blending them into the interactive user experience and ensuring that our dashboards are not only beautiful, but also telling you the real story.

HP just bought Vertica, which will be the foundation of its big data strategy, but doesn’t comprise enough of the big data bundle to give HP as complete an analytics story as some of its competitors can offer. Customers need more than scale and advanced queries. They also need the abilities to visualize their results, and algorithms to help them predict the future. Getting both BI and predictive analytics in a single package to sit a layer up the stack from the Vertica database would have been a coup for HP.

But, alas, it sounds like HP has moved on from Tibco and is seeking other software acquisitions, although I’m not so sure the deal is dead. We heard the same thing before EMC bought Isilon last year — and for largely the same reasons (i.e., the target demanded too high a price). But just like EMC came around and realized it really needed Isilon (the value of that deal was driven home for me when I stopped by NAB yesterday and saw how much money there is for file-system vendors in the media space), so too might HP come around on Tibco, which will let it kill two key birds with one stone.

Image courtesy of Mr M Evison.

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  1. Neil Ward-Dutton Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Given HP’s history with middleware technologies and acquisitions, I can’t help feeling that TIBCO (and its customers) perhaps escaped a nasty fate. You can argue that Leo Apotheker’s presence means HP needs to be given the benefit of the doubt; but one man alone can’t turn around a cultural blind-spot. HP has consistently failed to deliver enterprise software business outside network/systems management and application quality management (read: testing).

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