What's an Enterprise Software Supplier Doing Developing Hardware?


Commenting <strong>here on Jan.</strong> 8 about Leo Apotheker's appearance on the U.S. public broadcasting network, I said that one of the SAP CEO's most interesting comments was about SAP possibly developing and selling hardware within 10 years. (Note: Leo is officially still co-CEO but the rumor is Henning has accelerated his planned April 2009 departure.) I used the word "appliance," although I don't think Leo did.


On Feb. 4, TIBCO provided a hard example of what a software company is doing in developing and selling hardware. It's the new TIBCO Messaging Appliance and it's a concrete example of how the lines between hardware and software will get blurred over the next decade. TIBCO says:

"TIBCO Messaging Appliance employs a pure hardware approach, utilizing field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technologies."

TIBCO Messaging Appliance promises a 10-fold reduction in the number of servers required to handle a similar messaging flow with a software-only approach such as IBM WebSphere MQSeries or TIBCO's own Rendezvous. Naturally, TIBCO does not expect to be selling less messaging. Instead, it is reacting to the increase it expects (probably more than 10-fold) in asynchronous connectivity driven by technologies such as RFID and other non-human event-oriented interfaces to software.


However TIBCO says its Messaging Appliance

"preserves the investment customers have made in their Rendezvous applications by providing drop-in compatibility with existing versions of Rendezvous client libraries."

As Leo Apotheker pointed out in the Charlie Rose interview, SAP would not itself get into the manufacturing business. And neither is TIBCO, I'm sure. I have a call into TIBCO to see where the device will be built and whether or not it's single-sourced.