Please Welcome Dr. Rainer von Ammon to The CEP Blog

February 12, 2008

Today is an especially joyful occasion on The CEP Blog.    I am pleased to announce that one of the world’s top experts on CEP, Dr. Rainer von Ammon, has joined the blog.

Dr. Rainer von Ammon is managing director of the Centrum für Informations-Technology Transfer (CITT) in Regensburg. Until October 2005 he was Professor for Software Engineering, specializing in E-Business infrastructures and distributed systems, at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Rainer is still teaching there and at the University of Applied Sciences of Regensburg. From 1998 to 2002, he worked as Principal Consultant and Manager for R+D Cooperations at BEA Systems (Central and Eastern Europe). Prior to this, he was Professor for Software Engineering in Dresden with a focus on development of applications with event driven object oriented user interfaces and component based application development. Before this Rainer was acting as manager of the field Basic Systems at the Mummert + Partner Unternehmensberatung, Hamburg. After finishing his studies of Information Sciences at the University of Regensburg, he started as project leader of Computer Based Office Systems (COBIS) from 1978 to 1983 and afterward founded a start up company with some of his colleagues.

Some of you may recall my recent musings, A Bitter Pill To Swallow: First Generation CEP Software Needs To Evolve.   When you read Rainer’s excellent reply, you will quickly see why we are very pleased to have his thought leadership here at The CEP Blog.  Dr. von Ammon and his team are leading experts in CEP and related business integration domains.  Not only does he provide thought leadership, his team  researches, develops, implements and tests CEP solutions.   

In another example of  his thought leadership, some of you might recall this post, Brandl and Guschakowski Deliver Excellent CEP/BAM Report, where Hans-Martin Brandl and David Guschakowski of the University of Applied Sciences Regensburg, Faculty of Information Technology/Mathematics, advised by Dr. von Ammon, completed an excellent CEP thesis, Complex Event Processing in the context of Business Activity Monitoring

Please join me in extending a warm welcome for Dr. Rainer von Ammon to The CEP Blog.

A Bitter Pill To Swallow: First Generation CEP Software Needs To Evolve

February 8, 2008

Frankly speaking, the CEP market is now saturated with hype about all the great things CEP can do, detecting opportunities and threats in real time and supporting the decision cycle.  However, in my opinion, it is time for the software vendors and analysts to move beyond the marketing hype and demonstrate real operational value with strong end user success, something seriously lacking today.

I have advocated this evolution for two years, including the notion of expanding CEP capabilities with proven techniques for event processing that have worked well long before current “Not yet CEP but called CEP” software hit the marketplace and airwaves.

For example, in my first CEP/EP presentation in New York in 1Q 2006, I presented Processing Patterns for Predictive Business and talked about how the US military has implemented high performance detection-oriented systems for many years (in the art-and-science of multisensor data fusion, MSDF), and how every day, when we sit at home (or at work or in transit), we are comforted to know we are safe from missile attacks because of what I would also call “complex event processing.”   There is a very rich history of “CEP but not called CEP” behind the scenes keeping people safe and warm. (The same thing can be said with many similar examples of complex event processing in use today, but not called “CEP” by CEP software vendors.)

This is one reason, when I read the “CEP history lessons,” I am amused at how, at times, the lessons appear self-serving, not end user serving.  There is so much rich event processing history and proven architectures in “CEP but not called CEP” (CEP that actually works, in practice everyday, long before it was called CEP).  It continues to puzzle me that a few people the CEP/EP community continue to take the “we invented EP” view.  Quite frankly, the history we read is missing most, if not all, of the history and practice of MSDF.

When we take the current CEP COTS software offerings and apply it to these working “CEP but not called CEP” applications, the folks with real operational “CEP but not called CEP” detection-oriented experience quickly cut through the hype because they are, based on their state-of-the-practice, now seeking self-learning, self-healing “real CEP type” systems.  They are not so excited about first generation technologies full of promises from software vendors with only a few years of experience in solving detection-oriented problems and very few real success stories.

The same is true for advanced fraud detection and other state-of-the-art detection-oriented processing of “complex events” and situations.  The state-of-the-art of complex event processing, in practice, is far beyond the first generation CEP engines on the market today. 

This is one of the reasons I have agreed with the IBM folks who are calling these first generation “CEP orchestration engines” BEP engines, because that view is closer to fact than fiction.  Frankly speaking again, process orchestration is much easier than complex detection with high situation detection confidence and also low false alarms.

Customers who are detection-savvy also know this, and I have blogged about a few of these meetings and customer concerns.  For example, please read my blog entry about a banker who was very sceptical in a recent wealth management conference in Bangkok.  I see this reaction all the time, in practice. 

Complex problems are not new and they still cry out for solutions.  Furthermore, many current-generation event processing solutions are already more advanced that the first generation CEP engines on the “call it CEP” market today.  This is a very real inhibitor, in my opinion, to growth in the “call it CEP” software space today – and credibility may ultimately be “at risk.”  Caution is advised.

Candidly speaking again, there are too many red-herring CEP-related discussions and not enough solid results given the time software vendors have been promoting CEP/EP (again, this is simply my opinion).  The market is in danger of eventually losing credibility, at least in the circles I travel and complex problems I enjoy solving, because the capabilities of the (so called) CEP technologies by software vendors in the (so called) CEP space have been over sold; and, frankly speaking, I have yet to see tangible proof of “real CEP capabilities” in the road maps and plans of the current CEP software vendors.  This is dissappointing.

This pill is bitter and difficult to swallow, but most of my life’s work has been advising, formulating and architecting real-time solutions for the end user (the C-level executives and the operational experts with the complex problems to solve).   CEP software must evolve and there needs to be more tangible results, not more marketing hype.

Analytical Patterns for Complex Event Processing

October 31, 2007

Back in March of 2006 during my enjoyable times at TIBCO Software, I presented a keynote at the first event processing symposium, Processing Patterns for Predictive Business.   In that presentation, I introduced a functional event processing reference architecture and highlighted the importance of mapping the business requirements for event processing to appropriate processing analytics and patterns.  The figure below is a screenshot of slide 26 of that presentation:

Slide 26

The idea behind the illustration above was that it is essential for organizations to look at their business problems and deterimine the best processing pattern, or processing analytics, in the context of the problem they are trying to solve.   I also graphically illustrated a few examples of event processing analytics relevant to CEP, including:

  • Rule-Based Inference;
  • Bayesian Belief Networks (Bayes Nets);
  • Dempster-Shafer’s Method;
  • Adaptive Neural Networks;
  • Cluster Analysis; and
  • State-Vector Estimation.

The key takeaway for that part of my presentation was that many analytics for CEP exist in the art & science of mature multi-sensor data fusion processing and these analytics can be mapped to recurring business patterns in event processing. I illustrated this point in slide 28 with the figure below (for illustrative purposes only):

Slide 26

In future posts on this topic I will elaborate by discussing analytics at each level of the functional CEP reference architecture, highlighting where different analytical methods and patterns can be efficiently applied to solve real-world event processing business problems.

EDA, SOA and EP in the Blogosphere

September 27, 2007

My dear EPRAWG co-chair and leading event processing community builder Opher Etzion, added to the chorus of my recent post, EDA is EDA. SOA is SOA. with More on EDA is EDA and SOA is SOA. Opher correctly elaborates that event processing can be event driven, as in EDA; or event processing can be request-reply driven, as in SOA and similar request-reply architectures.

Now, if I could just convince all my fellow CEP and EP bloggers to turn on trackbacks and pingbacks so we could benefit from the core sense of community that blogs offer! TIBCO’s CEP blog does not respond to trackbacks and pingbacks; so this isolates their posts from the true benefit of the blogosphere. Opher’s blog is not responding to pingbacks and trackbacks either.

So, I kindly ask all my friends in the CEP/EP community to take a moment to insure that their trackbacks are working, so we can benefit from building the CEP/EP blogosphere as a community.

In closing, I think I speak for everyone in our community when I say that we greatly miss the leadership and insight of our good friend Mark Palmer in the blogosphere – and we wish him the very best and look forward to his future posts and collaboration!

EPTS Report: Event Processing Reference Architecture Working Group (Slides)

September 23, 2007

The Event Processing Technical Society (EPTS) met in Orlando, Florida, collocated with the Gartner Event Processing Symposium. I reported on the activities of the Event Processing Reference Architecture Working Group (EPRAWG) in this set of slides:

Event Processing Technical Society: Event Processing Reference Architecture Working Group – Roll Call and Open Discussion

The full roll call results of the activities, summarized in the slides above for 2006-2007, may be found in this Google spreadsheet.

Please comment if you have any questions or follow-on comments.