Real-time business insight becoming more critical: CEP pivotal?
Dr John Bates, Progress Software CTO
Both Progress Software and Tibco have contradicted the statement by SAS CEO Dr Jim Goodnight that complex event processing (CEP) technology is seeing limited use cases, arguing that it is playing a critical role in an ever-expanding range of applications and industries.
In an interview with CBR last week, SAS’ founder Goodnight said of CEP: "I would say it’s maybe only one or two per cent of applications that would require [CEP]."
But Dr John Bates, Progress Software CTO and head of corporate development, said: "To say that CEP has ‘limited appeal’, is some way off the mark. Not only have we seen some of the slower-moving vendors like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft enter the market, the platform has totally reformed the capital markets industry as well as making its mark in other sectors like telco, travel and logistics."
"If anything, CEP is going more mainstream," said Bates. "For example, we have had a recent project with a global entertainment and media conglomerate to create a live location and context aware interactive theme park experience."
"As Mr.Goodnight knows there are several joint customers with SAS and Apama [Progress’ CEP technology]," he continued. "Take the FSA, who uses SAS to research abuse patterns in the market and then Apama to monitor them. He also knows that this kind of thing is true in banking (fraud), telco, travel and many other industries. It’s the combination of historic intelligence (data at rest) and operational intelligence (data in motion)."
Meanwhile Al Harrington, global director of business optimization at Tibco, said the firm is also seeing strong growth in CEP in a wide range of areas: "The vast quantity of data, events and processes passing through businesses every second of every day requires real-time insight into operations in order to improve decision making, quality, customer service and to control costs," he said. "We’re seeing businesses in almost every market you can think of looking to create the next generation of customer loyalty programs, for example – something you just can’t do with traditional, transactional database technology."
"Companies want to be able look at events and then make offers on the spot based on those events. CEP has an important role to play here and Tibco is seeing very, very strong growth in CEP and other business optimization solutions," Harrington added.
SAS, a business intelligence player and the largest privately-owned software company in the world, does have CEP technology in its arsenal. But Goodnight told us that it’s primarily used by intelligence services such as the CIA, about which it can’t say too much for obvious reasons. However he conceded that, "With the volume of data coming in we need ways to process it quicker, and with so much information coming in from the web, Tweets, blogs, there’s a huge volume of stock exchange data flowing through – there are some applications where [CEP’s] important." But he insisted that this was only the case in "only one or two per cent of applications".
But Progress’ Dr Bates noted that, "A recent Progress Software survey across industries, showed that only eight per cent of enterprises across the globe are able to report business information in real-time. As a result, without instant visibility into business activity, organisations cannot possibly determine what is or is not working and then set the right course of action, thus are unable to provide an efficient and responsive service to their customers."
"Across most businesses today, it’s essential that we gain comprehensive insight into your business events, business transactions and business operations as they occur," Bates added, "in order for us to understand how events reveal opportunities, threats or inefficiencies and take action. The point is, CEP is evolving, but the need for visibility into the business is going nowhere."
Progress Software showed its belief in the value of CEP when it bought UK-based CEP specialist Apama back in 2005. That technology is now a core component in its product strategy, which it calls Responsive Process Management.
There have been a string of CEP acquisitions recently, which appear to signal growing interest in the technology. IBM bought CEP player AptSoft in January this year, Sybase bought Aleri in February and Informatica bought AgentLogic last September. Informatica also bought low latency middleware player 29West in March, to rival Tibco Rendezvous and IBM WebSphere MQ.
Elsewhere, StreamBase, one of the few dedicated CEP players that hasn’t already been acquired, was awarded Technology Pioneer 2010 status by the World Economic Forum. Time Magazine declared event processing to be one of eight "Innovations that will change your life," while the World Economic Forum named event processing itself as one of the 26 top innovations in the world. Gartner analyst Roy Schulte has called event processing the key to "agile companies".