After having been involved in the study and implementation of advance event processing techniques and technology since the mid 1990s, it’s gratifying to see this field getting much deserved attention. In a recent presentation, Yefim Natis of Gartner, predicted that Complex Event Processing (CEP) will be one of the five most significant IT trends over the next few years. Yefim also noted that CEP will increasingly become the foundation for the next generation of Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) applications. This is very good to hear as this is a conclusion that we have also reached.
One reason the market is getting excited about CEP is that event-capable middleware—most significantly the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)—is now becoming mainstream in corporate IT. ESBs, most popularly regarded as the critical messaging-based backbone for SOA implementations, are just as capable for event-driven architecture (EDA) implementations because of their messaging heritage. EDA takes the SOA principle of loosely coupled services one step further – to decoupled services. Whilst the interaction model is a little different, the underlying technology remains the same so ESBs provide an important driver for CEP adoption. Along with the adoption of these technologies also comes familiarity with the whole event processing model, and the technical skill and best practices that go with it. The result—in short—is the sudden availability of business event on a much more pervasive scale. Here, the event processing version of Metcalfe's law kicks in—the value of CEP is increases exponentially as more events become available to process. That is, as long as your event processing infrastructure can handle it.
Another reason interest in CEP is rising is the proven success of the technology within capital markets. Not only have most of the leading investment banks adopted CEP to implement their algorithmic trading and risk management systems but now the financial markets and regulators are adopting the technology to monitor the market in real time to detect compliance violations or patterns of fraud, like insider trading. For example, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is adopting CEP technology to help monitor the UK markets and enforce MiFID compliance in an increasingly fragmented trading environment. The system called SABRE II is being developed by Detica. You can read about it here.
But it’s not just capital markets that will benefit from CEP. It is also being adopted on the manufacturing floor for process control and improvement, in logistics applications for early detection of supply chain issues, in retail RFID for inventory management and security, by military branches for situational awareness of the battlefield, and even by casinos to help their monitoring of suspicious gaming behaviour. It seems events are everywhere these days.
I was recently at an academically hosted event in Germany. Many vendors and practitioners attended and many themes in software were discussed – BPM, BAM, SOA, CEP amongst others. What came over loud and clear in the sessions was that CEP was increasingly seen as a major new and important capability that fitted well into the SOA world. An ESB for example was important in giving the foundation for the gathering and analysis of events from around the enterprise.
As more and more organizations embrace SOA infrastructure that supports event processing—and the event processing skill set that goes with it, the value of CEP technology will continue to rise. In fact, expect interest in CEP-powered applications (BAM and otherwise) to be a real driver in infrastructure investment over the next few years. Soon you’ll hear many more CIOs saying: “I see events. They’re everywhere.”
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