Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On Killer Applications

My friend Tim Bass, the popular blogger, is the person who implored me into writing my own Blog again and again, until I decided to give it a try. Tim, whom I always enjoy to hear talking, even when we agree to disagree, has notified us in his Blog that he is going to participate in a Webinar about "BAM as a killer application for CEP" . While the Webinar has not yet occurred, and I don't have a clue what they are going to say - I would like to dedicate this posting to killer applications and EP, since this is not the first time that I've heard assertions about killer applications. To start the discussion, let's look at three assertions:
  1. BI is a killer application of databases
  2. Electronic commerce is a killer application of the World Wide Web
  3. BAM is a killer application of CEP

Before looking at assertion number 3, let's look at the previous two assertions:

  • Databases are used for many purposed, certainly BI uses databases, which implement data warehouses, but most of the uses in databases today are on operational systems, master data management etc - and BI is just one application. The opposite holds, one cannot do BI, without storing historical data, thus databases is a killer technology for BI.
  • Electronic commerce is certainly a growing area, and maybe there are people whose main usage of the web is electronic selling or buying, but today I have entered the Internet several times, none of them has been in order to buy. Actually, my own buying from the internet (I am buying books and songs - as I listen to music in the background when I am not in a meeting, so I have a collection of around 1500 songs now - and growing - only legal downloads!) issue a very small part of my use of the Internet, this is true for most persons, however, the converse holds - it is difficult to hold electronic commerce without the Web, so the Web is a killer technology for EC.

Now, back to the assertion that we inspect - "CEP is a killer application of BAM" - this would have been true if most of the CEP usages were BAM applications, Wikipedia description of BAM states: The goals of Business Activity Monitoring are to provide real time information about the status and results of various operations, processes, and transactions

Many of the BAM products concentrate around displaying Key Performance Indicators on dashboards, but even if we extend the notion of BAM, it is still observation on operations according to predefined measurements (typically aggregative ones).

Now the question - whether most CEP users are doing it through BAM ? according to my observation on the CEP market, the answer is - NO. BAM is an important application of CEP, but there are others - the early adopter application - algorithmic trading - is not really BAM - it is more RTE type - it makes decisions and not presents observations, system and network management applications are also mostly not BAM - they are diagnosis, attempting to find root cause for problems and not display measurements, and the same is true for information dissemination systems that don't monitor anything, and predictive systems that don't have measurements. Thinking about a sample of CEP applications I have looked at recently, there is certainly some that are of BAM type, but it is not the majority. CEP is being used for different purposes, and has different ROI to different people, I'll write more on the different ROI's in one of the next postings, thus, like databases, it does not have a single killer application.

The interesting question is if CEP is a killer technology for BAM or any other application type ? but - I have written enough for today. BTW - speaking about BAM, I have noted the posting of James Taylor - "why are enterprise application so dumb?" - doubting the benefits of presenting observation to humans, instead of taking automated decisions - food for thought. More Later

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