Saturday, February 9, 2008

On bitter pills, hype-cycles, and event processing

My friend, Tim Bass, has decided to feed us with bitter pills about the state of the CEP market today - should we swallow ? on the other hand - The TIBCO CEP philosopher Paul Vincent is telling us that CEP is not a hype, and can eliminate the "fall" side of the hype cycle should we believe him?

To give you full disclosure - I don't take pills - sweet, bitter or otherwise, and let my immune system protecting me, without help -- maybe with age I'll have to desert this policy, but not out of free will. I also think that while CEP is real, there is some hype phenomenon around it - and the hype cycle is a very smart idea - representing the laws of nature.

So - a few subjective assertions about the state of the event processing market:

  1. Event Processing applications are real, there are cases in which they provide a significant value (and ROI) for customers, for various reasons (still owe you postings about the different ROI I found).
  2. Even the non-visionary spreadsheet-oriented vendors identify revenues (or losses if they'll not jump into the CEP wagon), thus, it seems that the size of the market starting to hit a critical size. The list of "reference customers" is some indication, but does not provide a good one about the state of the market - some small companies go to the press with any signing on customer agreement to do pilot, while in bigger companies only mega-deals are reported this way; besides there are customers who are not ready to get public exposing even in titles what they are doing.
  3. We are still in the first generation of technologies - and first generations are typically the prelude, the thinking about an area is changing, and requirements are identified much faster than the ability of vendors to cope with them (so they start with hacking around them). To provide an analogy - we are now in a similar situation to the database technologies in the early 1960-ies, before the relational database has been invented, even before DBTG proposal. There were some products - but their utilization was limited.
  4. While there is a real value to customers, there are also some of the hype phenomenon around it, which leads to the "hype cycle" as a predictor --- we are still in the climbing side of the hype curve - but at some point we'll see some more understanding around what EP applications may do -- and those vendors who will not be able to cope with the relative rapid changes that will be required -- will stay out of the picture, which is also a normal things. We have today more CEP vendors than DB vendors, so we are not yet in steady state.
  5. Tim Bass complains about looking at the history -- saying we should focus on applications and history has no importance -- Contrary to that, and looking at other disciplines, there need to be a standard basis of the discipline, otherwise it become a collection of ad-hoc efforts that don't reuse the type of thinking. Standard thinking comes from unified theory - and we have not found yet the equivalent of the "relational model" in databases. In order to do it we need to go back to the basics in various disciplines, and see what can be pulled together - thus the work like David Luckham's survey about the history and the contributing disciplines is very important to get people from these disciplines to work together - like the Dagstuhl seminar or the upcoming DEBS conference

So what is the bottom line of all these assertions ---

first - I am optimistic, I view EP as a disrupting technology for the computing industry, and it has an important role in architectures, applications and conceptions of enterprise computing.

second -- the first generation is just the start, a lot of work to be done to get to the "hype cycle plateau" and beyond...

Since one of my declared hats is a catalyst - I prefer to use a constructive tone -- saying -- here is what should be done in order to get there, and also put a modest contribution to make it happen -- is more constructive from swallowing pills. In one of my next postings - I'll continue this postings by providing views on "what are the most important things to be done".
more - later.


Anonymous said...

Hi Opher!

First of all, pointing out risk is not "negative" (as you seem to say) it is our responsibility, no different than pointing out risks in Internet security. Risk is not mitigated by painting rosy pictures and marketing.

Second, I did not say "history is not important." What I have been saying is that the "history" is inaccurate, seemingly self-serving and does not represent the real state-of-the-art of event processing, only a small subset.

Last but not least, my blog post represents the views of customers who are unhappy with the hype. I am simply the messenger - so don't shoot the messenger, thanks!

Yours sincerely, Tim

Opher Etzion said...

Hello Tim.

I am frequently being shot as a messanger -). In any event, critisizm is not negative, I just have developed the insight that presenting critisizm is a constructive way is more effective. History -- again, if I see some inaccurate description of history, and I care about it, I propose corrections. About hypes and first generations - I don't think that we have different opinions, read my posting again.



Anonymous said...

Hi Opher!

Thanks for the collaboration in the blog-o-sphere!

I like reading your posts and they way you position them!

Yours faithfully, Tim