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IBM WebSphere CTO sees CEP as SOA's 'next big thing'

IBM WebSphere CTO Jerry Cuomo sees complex event processing (CEP) becoming the next big thing service-oriented architecture (SOA). He sees this trend running across vertical industries. While stock trading applications have been the poster child for initial CEP implementations, IBM also sees potential in transportation including fleet management where CEP can make use of RFID and GPS data to track shipments. In this second part of this Q&A interview, Cuomo said IBM is moving forward to add new CEP functionality to its SOA products while also leveraging existing event processing technology.

Read Part 1
Jerry Cuomo

What do you see as the biggest trend for SOA in 2008?
I've started to hear some people talk about this in the context of SOA, and I really believe it's the next big thing in SOA, and that's event processing. I don't know how much you're hearing about this, but certainly we're taking it very seriously. I see a spectrum of event processing. There are types of event processing that we are doing very well today on the simpler notion of event processing. A lot of our connectivity products, our ESB and messaging products certainly participate in event-driven architecture. But as we start moving into more complex event scenarios there are huge opportunities to connect that with service-oriented architecture. Like service-oriented architecture, I think it starts with a business thought. What differentiates this space is the notion of time windows, adding time windows and the overall time perspective to the problem, looking at patterns of activity over time, starting with a business perspective on that and driving it into IT. What kind of patterns are we talking about?
Looking at patterns of usage, the most stereotypical examples are around stock trading. So it is looking for speculative buyers or fraudulent activities across a network. I'm looking for products falling off trucks, in a fleet management system with CEP being fed with RFID or GPS tracking information. With the wealth of information available today, how can business people peer into that, express patterns of interest with rules and get feedback and be able to act on it. How does this fit into SOA?
When you looking into the lifecycle of SOA where you start off with a business analyst modeling business processes, simulating, connecting, executing, monitoring, we see that playing into the whole event processing space: having a business analyst being able to sit down a model a set of patterns that they are interested in looking into. The interesting part here is the way we're looking at it. When I say "time" I don't necessarily mean real time, I also mean the past and perhaps the future. How would that work?
I can say there's a trading system running today and I'm interested in this sequence of actions. If someone buys and sells and buys and sells the same stock over a period of time, maybe they're speculating and I'm interested in that. Then I go back two weeks and I have a new idea for a pattern I want to observe. Do I have to wait for it to happen or can I go back in time and look to see what happened? Or can I predict what might happen in the future? So taking the data that you have around your environment by monitoring service use, and reading events as part of your end-to-end business activity and flow, then allowing an event system to participate and make sense of the activity going on in the form of patterns, rules, decision trees that business folks could drive with IT. That's an area that we're going to go into in a much more pronounced way next year. We have activity going on. We're going to call it out more prominently and we're going to announce some new things in the space. So the world of SOA and complex event processing will come together and be a beautiful thing in 2008.
For more information
The first word in CEP for SOA is 'complex'

SOA + CEP = 'a new physics of computing'
In terms of CEP are you going to have new technology or additions to existing technology?
Yes and yes. New technologies for sure and those technologies are certainly going to enhance the current products that we have. We already have capability in this space and certainly we have technology that will enhance that capability. As I already said, bringing in the time dimension both real-time present, past and future, that is something we really haven't highlighted in any of our products yet. That's something we're going to start to do. You noted that the stereotypical application for CEP always seems to be stock trading, but given IBM's vertical market strategies are there other verticals – you mentioned shipping would be one – where CEP would become important?
Absolutely. Fleet management has become important. We have a product called the WebSphere Premises Server, which introduces capabilities around RFID. That's a perfect place. There's a wealth of information in industrial applications for fleet management and commerce applications. Absolutely we're looking across the sets of industries that we're active in at IBM, which is pretty vast, certainly finance, banking, fleet management, government, commerce. Commerce is interesting because when you look at commerce and how information feeds the Web, I see a very nice connection there. For example, everything from click streaming being able to look at how people are using apps, what they're clicking on and getting events to the other side which is using Web 2.0 technology, REST, RSS feeds, as a way to tap into your event system. So I gave you the MQ example [in the part 1 of this interview] where with software you already have, namely a Web browser, you can interact with MQ, but just imagine interacting with your event system through a set of RSS feeds. Being able to monitor your event system from your RSS viewer. We're well underway experimenting with those sorts of things.

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