Tibco details its BAM vision

Fresh off its bargain-basement acquisition of business activity monitoring (BAM) player Praja Inc., Tibco Software this week outlined a strategy for serving up real-time enterprise information to help companies make better business decisions.

"What we've been doing the past five to six years is building an integration ' operating system' that has the ability to tie to together and flow distributed services through pipes," explained Fred Meyer, chief strategy officer at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tibco.

"The next big question is what to do with all these services and their data to create value for businesses," he said.

This is where Praja comes in. Integration giant Tibco snapped up the San Diego-based BAM pure-play company in late September for a price tag that one industry analyst characterized as a steal at an estimated US$5 million to $6 million.

Praja's technology enables enterprises to capture, manage, and monitor the performance of business processes as they occur, as well as to peer back into historical data to identify patterns and information gaps and draw comparisons, said Meyer.

"Praja [technology] personalizes information in a contextual way, telling you what you need to know at a particular place in time," said Meyer, who emphasized that the solution is aimed at business users, not IT.

"When you understand what it's telling you about how your processes are running, you can apply new business rules or identify patterns that allow you to think about new things that you haven't done before," he said.

Characterized by a dashboard-style user interface, Praja software can, for example, alert business analysts that online orders have slowed during what is normally a peak time each week. Then, by culling and integrating information from systems, the software can help identify what may be causing the lull on the technology side. It can also provide a historical look back at how the problem was handled the last 10 times it happened, to help drive an informed response by the business analyst.

In the next six weeks, Tibco will roll out a stand-alone version of Praja's software called Business Factor. Looking ahead, the company plans to incorporate Business Factor across its product line of EAI, portal and b-to-b integration software.

Integration technology specialists such as Tibco -- as well as business intelligence and enterprise applications vendors -- are the natural leaders to drive BAM into the marketplace, because their software touches all points in the enterprise, said David McCoy, an analyst with Gartner, which first coined the term BAM.

By acquiring Praja, Tibco has found a way to bring meaning to the reams of data that flow through its integration server and messaging platform, he said.

"Tibco is a firehose of data, but much of the information is useless to the business unless it's put in context, which is where Praja helps," said McCoy.

Other integration companies are knocking at the door of BAM, including IBM with its recent acquisition of business process automation company Holosofx, and webMethods, which inked a deal with data warehousing giant Informatica in July.

BAM pure-plays, such as Praja, will become increasingly ripe for acquisition as the concept gains more traction in the next two to four years, McCoy said.

"Tibco was smart to pick up Praja at this early stage, because in a couple of years the pure-play acquisitions are going to command a lot more dollars," he said.

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