BAM: The Cherry on Top of the CEP Pie?

If you read the posts on the net on CEP and BAM you might start to think that the main purpose of visualization in event processing is a BAM dashboard. This is quite a narrow view of both CEP and visualization; so kindly permit me to “debunk the marketing myths” that BAM is simply the cherry on top of the CEP pie.

Turning our attention to the functional reference architecture for event processing, notice that visualization (User Interface) is depicted both (1) outside of the event processing dotted line and (2) attached to a communications (messaging) infrastrucuture.

Event Processing Reference Architecture

Visualization and user interaction is required at all levels of the event processing inference model.

Folks use graphical tools to model event processing data and information flows when they are building and debugging sophisticated event processing applications. There are graphical tools for IT developers and tools for business users.

For example, visualization is required at the event transformation layer. Some companies use graphical XPATH tools, for example, to help map, transform or normalize data from one format to another.

Moving up the event processing inference model to event (object) tracking and tracing, it is necessary to visuzalize the behavior of single event objects before trying to build more complex composite models. For example, you are are interested in extracting user behavior features from web clicks, it is very useful to be able to visualize patterns of normal and abnormal user behavior.

Let’s say you are confident with tracking, tracing and visualizing event objects. What’s next?

You need to be able to combine extracted features from individual event objects and create composite, or derived, events; and you need to be able to visualize these composite events. For example, if you are tracking two or more stocks transactions and looking to optimize your cybertrading strategy, you need to be able to visualize the basic behavioral patterns between low level objects in your model(s) to increase your confidence and optimize performance in the model(s).

When you have built composite event processing models and are beginning to detect real-time opportunities and threats in your business environment, you need to be able to optimize the impact of running these models. Visualization plays an important role here too.

In larger event processing applications, you need to be able to visualize the operational status of your event sources, event processing resources, agents, and other business processes. Visualization is critical to your resource optimization strategy.

When all of the above (and more implied in the picture) is optimized, you might actually have confidence in BAM dashboards showing high level business KPIs and metrics.

The important point to keep in mind is that visualization is important at all inference layers in the functional model of event processing. Business activity monitoring, or BAM, often depicted as a cherry on top of CEP applications, is only a part of CEP visualization pie.

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2 Responses to BAM: The Cherry on Top of the CEP Pie?

  1. Derek Weeks says:

    From your message, you seem to be inferring that BAM is simply a dashboard technology. In addition to great dashboard technology, BAM also covers functionality shown in levels 1 – 4 of the model you present above. One key difference between BAM and CEP may be the volume of information that CEP engines manage compared to BAM engines, but the process, as shown in your model above is relatively similar.

  2. Tim Bass says:

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks for visiting and your comment!

    I am not sure that my friend Bill Gassman of Gartner would agree with you that BAM covers the lower IT layers (like transformation).

    Speaking from my perspective, I welcome the broader view of BAM as you suggest.

    My experience has been that there are a number of analysts who are not comfortable with equating BAM with the IT layers (network management, service management, transformation, normalization, routing, etc.) of a business.

    On the other hand, from the perspective of an IT person, their “business” is IT, so I like the notion of BAM at the IT services layer vs. the narrower perspective that “the business” is somehow disconnected from the IT management and development layer.

    Yours thoughts?

    Yours faithfully, Tim

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