Friday, March 6, 2009

On event processing engines and platforms

Today, Friday, is part of our weekend, so it is a good time to do shopping and other arrangements.
My wife and myself went to our local friendly bank to open some new account for some purpose. The lady that handles our account said that they have a new software to open an account that is extremely difficult to operate, with a lot of screens that one has to understand what is asked, and suggested she'll do it off-line and call us when ready, so we'll come to sign the papers. Once, opening an account was simple and lasted a few minutes, just signing some forms; the more sophisticated a software becomes, the more difficult it to operate, and sometimes it becomes obstacle to the business. Often, developers don't really care about the human engineering aspects. Hans Gilde wrote recently about the fact that CEP software is not smart. I agree, in several occasions I have given talks to an audience of high-school students which gives a rough introduction to AI, under the title: can a computer think ? while there some works in AI that strive to do it, today's software does cannot really think, and is not really smart. One can use the software to do things that look smart, but the wisdom is not in the software itself, it is in the way it is used. In the bank case, the software does not even look smart...

This week I had three visitors from Germany, Rainer von Ammon and two of his CITT colleagues, and we made some progress towards defining the EDBPM project that we plan to submit as EU project. They have asked me to pose in my office under my " wall of plaques" (half of them are in Hebrew, so they could not really read them...). So this is my most current picture..

One short clarification -- after my posting entitled : "event processing platforms - yes, but..."
I received some private communication claiming that there is a confusion between the terms "platforms" and "engines". The claim is that there are vendors who refer to their engines as platforms, moreover, some people refer to any run-time software as an engine. So I thought it worth clarifying how do I see the distinction:
  • Event Processing Platform is a software that enables the creation of event processing network, handle the routing of events among agents, management, and other common infrastructure issues.
  • Event Processing Engine is a software that enables the creation of the actual function - in the EPN term implementing agents.
This is similar to the difference between an application server and a single component.

What is the connection ---
  • On one extreme, there are closed platforms, i.e. platform that can run only one type of engines, in this case the distinction becomes more fuzzy.
  • On the other extreme -- there are open platforms, in this case these concepts are totally separated, a platform that can run multiple engines. The main issue about it is that there may be a collection of different languages that come with the different engines, and this may make the development of an application more difficult.
The first generation of event processing has started with engines that are stand-alone, the emergence of platforms, and making them open, are the signs of the second generation. I'll say more about the challenges of constructing the next generations -- more later.

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