CEP Myopia

Those with myopia see nearby objects clearly but distant objects appear blurred. Nearsightedness tends to run in families and usually appears in the early stages of life. It is a vision problem experienced by up to about one-third of the population. Nearsighted people have difficulty seeing the full picture, but can see up-close applications.

Myopia has become the biggest challenge we face in the CEP market.

Software vendors with rules engines can only see CEP where rules are applicable. Vendors with continuous query engines see all CEP applications as time series calculations on streaming data. Vendors with expertise in structured query languages see CEP as an extension of SQL. Vendors with middleware technology see all CEP applications as message-oriented.

In early 2006, I introduced a functional reference architecture for CEP that encompassed a much larger CEP vision where events, stream processing, rules processing, statistical analytics, impact assessment, historical data, patterns, correlations, process and resource management, data mining and visualization all worked together to solve complex problems. I was hopeful that vendors would work together to help their customers solve some of the most challenging problems we face in cyberspace today.

I did not realize how myopic the CEP community was until Mark Hapher’s CEP use case, RSS and Atom – Event Based Computing for Global Applications, became public. I was surprised, at first, when two CEP/ESP vendors immediatly pushed back strongly, declaring Mark’s vision for CEP “out of scope”. Then, when I thought about it, I realized that it is the myopia that is hurting the CEP market and community.

Is this so unusual?

Then it came to me.

When I first applied the concepts of multisensor data fusion to cybersecurity in 1999 there was myopia in the computer and network community. There was a lot of pushback and resistance. Now, almost 8 years later, the myopia is almost gone, and the leading security folks have been enlightened.

I hope it does not take 8 years for the CEP myopia to correct itself.

On the other hand, until CEP vendors have plug-and-play analytics, where users can drop in rules engines, or Bayes nets, or neural nets with a click of the mouse, we may continue to experience the strains of this myopic vision. When folks see events from RSS and Atom feeds just as quickly as they see events from market feeds and message-oriented middleware, this will be a good sign that the CEP nearsightedness is improving.

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