Saturday, December 4, 2010

Event processing as blasphemy

The fire in the Carmel mountain is still on  for the third day, although it is somewhat reduced due to the fire fighting aircraft from all over the world - the most notable one from Russia, but also from other countries; it is good to see that when a disaster happens, many countries in the world are getting to help, Israel has also a record of helping other countries while disaster occurs.   I guess that the fire will be overcome eventually, but this does not change the very bitter feeling that the population here has about the incompetency of the government, where a series of faults came together to bring this disaster.   For everybody who sent me worried Emails from all over the universe:  the fire did not get into the city of Haifa, so have not been in real danger, the site of IBM Haifa Research Lab, is relatively close to the fire area, as it is located on the Haifa University campus.  The campus was confiscated to be the headquarter of the fire fighting forces, so it is still blocked.   While in Haifa we were not in danger, people in some villages lost their home to the fire, and 42 people were killed when a bus was caught in the fire.   

Now for this posting's topic -- you probably wonder what's event processing has to do with blasphemy or religion at all?  I think that I have written before about all of these, but will put it within a single perspective. When I was young I had several friends who moved through the process of becoming religious (what the Christians call "borne again", Jewish people are using a different term), I watched this process with interest, and has many discussions with them (well, they tried to convince me that they saw the light and I just have to look more carefully to discover it).   One thing that I have learned about religious people is that it is useless to argue with them, since their beliefs are based on axioms, and once you identified this fact, one cannot argue over axioms, since this is the nature of an axiom.    Likewise, there are many professional religions, I have seen religious wars in other areas of computing, and this is not really a new phenomenon, just different gods.

Here are three religions for which event processing serve as blasphemy to that specific religions.

Religion one:   The data-centric religion.
The religion's belief:   the world is data centric, everything can be done within database tools. The is a small niche which requires high scalability, but it can also be dealt using database techniques,
The blasphemy:   events processing is a distinct discipline; it has some unique characteristics. 

Religion two:  The programming model religion
The religion's belief:   all functions need to be expressed using the programming languages we know and love.
The blasphemy:   event processing has various languages abstractions that are not part of the regular languages. 

Religion three:  The "true CEP" religion
The religion belief:  The term CEP was coined to cope with application of types of intrusion detection; any person who did not work directly on intrusion detection applications is not qualified as a priest for the religion, thus cannot really deal with event processing. 
The blasphemy:  Anybody using the term "CEP" for any other application type is a blasphemer, any technique that tries to address any other event processing application is simply irrelevant  (comment:  I don't really  tend to use the term CEP, but some of the vendors  indeed use it).

As said,  the prophets (and disciples) of these religions believe in them in an emotional way, and there is no use arguing with them, so the best way is just to expose the axioms they believe in and let people think whether they believe in these axioms or not.     One of the motivations of the EPTS use case survey is to find out about the  usage of event processing today;   since it is generally agreed that the event processing area barely scratched the surface of its potential, an equally important issue is to identify what are the gaps in th state of the art  that are required in order to achieve it, and this is another major activity of the community that will be discussed within the event processing manifesto and   other related activities -- more about these topics - later. 

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