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Complex Event Processing: IT Liberator or Over-Engineering Hell?

Before getting down to technical details, I'd like to ask whether the future position of Complex Event Processing (CEP) tools and engines spells good news or bodes ill for our technology future. Specifically, I'd like to question whether CEP represents a highly agile customer-influenced IT delivery driver, or whether CEP will pervade (and ultimately "invade") our use of technology to the point where it becomes insidious.

Complex Event Processing essentially performs internal analysis of business events at such a rate that it becomes an essential tool in banking and finance where macro-management of data stream values needs to happen at light speed if it is to have any value.

Great news then that CEP technologies may soon migrate downward from mission-critical high-end deployments to affect the software that (for example) runs in the geolocation device in your cellphone – isn't it? As you stroll through the mall, your device starts to alert you of special offers relating your consumer spend behavior, which is automatically tracked from the secure electronic payments tools that you use on the same device.

Does it sound good yet? If it does, then beware the long-term effects. Corporate business is traditionally quite keen on making money I understand. So if the opportunity exists to overload us as individuals, then it will probably happen. So which vendors are pushing this space outwards?

OpTier describes itself as a "Business Transaction Management (BTM) company" and its CEP engine has recently been updated with a new "continuous intelligence" module.

"Software programmers have struggled to tap into the fabric of events happening across the enterprise. This has left CEP engines lacking the data required to make an impact. BTM shines a light on all business activity being captured across applications as business transactions. It’s like a fire hose for CEP, giving it the information it needs to create powerful business advantage," said Motti Tal, co-founder of OpTier.

Software engineers can potentially use these technologies to tailor the information in the systems they are managing and display the results via a roles-based dashboard to provide customized alerts and reports. But before you architect the 'next big thing' based around these methodologies and tools, spare a though for end user overload and design a system that we will want to be omnipresent -- for all of our sakes.

You can learn more about CEP from this short Dr. Dobb's audio interview and from this article by John Morrell entitled Making the Case for Complex Event Processing Software. Additionally, John Bates discusses CEP as it relates to algorithmic trading in this Dr. Dobb's article entitled Algorithmic Trading.

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