With the word ‘recession' on every-body's lips, an unprecedented collapse in the finance sector still echoing, and a year of flat IT budgets being widely predicted, you could forgive the CEO of Tibco for being a little downbeat. But Vivek Ranadivé, the boss of arguably the world's largest integration software specialist, is coming out fighting and he has some solid financial numbers with which to back himself.
Ranadivé founded what became Tibco back in 1985 and quickly made the company into an icon of middleware, as the company that sold the code that glued together the applications and business processes of the world's largest companies, helping them to gain a real-time view of operations and markets. His thesis was to create the software equivalent of a computer bus where cards can be plugged in and out to add functions - in fact, Tibco stands for The Information Bus Company.
Success was rapid, although Ranadivé's back story was somewhat different to the silver spoon background of many of Silicon Valley's masters of the universe. He was born in Mumbai and as a boy came across a TV documentary that started him dreaming of becoming a student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He eventually achieved his aim, arriving in the Boston area with little in the way of cash but a world of drive, and by the time he graduated he was running his own technology consulting firm.
Today, Tibco is a widely recognised monument in the enterprise software landscape but everybody knows that 2009 will be a challenging year for most businesses, including business technology, as Goldman Sachs forecast an eight per cent slump in technology spending in developed markets and Gartner recently slashed forecasts for sales of enterprise software to 6.6 per cent growth globally.
But as a proud technologist and frequent iconoclast, Ranadivé casts a brighter light on things.
"What we see, in spite of the economic turmoil, is actually very exciting," he insists, speaking by phone from Tibco's Palo Alto headquarters in California.
"I see IT entering the third era. In the early 1960s, the enabling technology was the mainframe and it was a two-tier architecture. With Enterprise 1.0 you had a bank with 10 million customers and a few thousand branches to support them; you'd deposit your cheque and overnight your account was updated. Software was tied to the hardware.
"In the 1980s you had client/server, which I call Enterprise 2.0. Software was no longer tied to hardware but to the database, and you had a ramp up in velocity.
"Today we're in the early stages of Enterprise 3.0, where companies have hundreds of millions of discrete events every month and maybe a petabyte of storage. We've gone from static to dynamic, from database to a dynamic enterprise service bus, ERP to end-to-end business processes, and from business intelligence to proactive systems. Most businesses do their business in memory and memory price has fallen faster than disk storage. The velocity of life has become event-driven - it happens on the fly."