Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some subjective reminiscences on Amit

Catching up on Emails and community's Blog after returning home, I have discovered that Paul Vincent has added Amit to the genealogy of products that he is maintaining. There is also going to be in DEBS 2010 a paper presented about experience with Amit, written by some of our team members (I did not participate directly in this paper, since it described work on some use cases that were done in the period that I have spent outside Haifa Research Lab).

I wanted, for a long time, to write something about Amit, maybe this is the right opportunity.

What is Amit?

Amit has been a name of a research project resulted with what is called today "event processing engine". It is based on ECA rules (however, had originally been specified as extension to SQL, as done in active databases). The original specification and design have been done by Asaf Adi (who also single-handedly coded the first version) and myself in 1998. The original language has survived with some additions over the years.

What is was used for?

Amit was used as a component in some of IBM products over the years, most notably Websphere Message Broker, but also Websphere Sensor Events and some others; also it served for some customers engagements as stand-alone, both IBM internal and external customers. The applications developed through Amit spanned various industries. It was also OEM-ed to two external software vendors and served as part of their solutions.

Where is the name Amit coming from?

The official name has been - "Active Middleware Technology" and at some point, somebody in UK decided that the acronym should be written as AMiT, thus you can see that in some places it is spelled that way, however, the acronym came later -- the original name was indeed Amit, and it was called this name since Amit is an Hebrew name, and I chose Hebrew names to all my research projects (Pardes, Adi and Arad are some of the other names), this particular one is also an Indian name, and one person whose name is Amit, who was born in India told me that the meaning of the name in Hindu is "to aspire beyond limitations", actually looking Amit at Wikipedia, one can found that the Hindu meaning of the name is: Infinite or immeasurable or boundless. I liked the aspiring beyond limitations, since that when we started it we did not know where it will lead, but we had a feeling that this is something big, a feeling that the immediate environment did not share (hence the limitations). Later, I have coined the "Active Middleware Technology" acronym, and the plan has been to develop a middleware with many components, we started with a first component called: situation manager, and somehow this was the only component developed, as we went deeper in this one, thus the situation manager component became a synonym of Amit. Again -- history develops in strange way.

What is the impact and legacy of Amit?

With the acquisition of Aptsoft, in early 2008, the IBM executives decided to retire Amit, and it is now still used as a legacy in some places, but not been developed for several years now. However, the impact of Amit has been and still is noticeable. IBM has recognized the impact last year through its internal awards process, that the activity around Amit, and some other related activities was the direct reason that IBM has decided to enter the EP market.
Looking at technical impact -- since we have published detailed description of Amit in journal and conferences papers, it was read by many people in the community, and we identified ideas in various products (even names of operators) inspired to Amit, I'll not finger any specific product, though. I think that some of the ideas that we worked on (which have been developed further in the post-Amit period) like contexts and policies laid foundations for the next generation.

As the paper written about experience with Amit states -- the experience with Amit also taught us where the event processing platforms should evolve to, and triggered the post-Amit work on the EPN/EPA based event processing that we are working on in the last couple of years.

This is a very brief account on Amit, I might write some follow-up to this one telling more.

1 comment:

Chris Ahrendt said...

I was one of the first early adopters for AMIT and worked closely with the Haifa lab. We used the AMIT node to come up with banking solutions for customers. Many of the functions within amit such as the modeling of events were very ahead of its time...