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For complex event processing, use 'just enough' rocket science

For a successful implementation of complex events processing, CEP architects need to correctly gauge complexity of event and speed of update.

Opportunity and threat are both tangible. But threat is more so. Enterprises work hard to exploit opportunity, but threats get the first attention. This scenario has played out for early adopters of Complex Event Processing (CEP) software – fraud detection has been an application type early in line to get the CEP treatment.

Of course, fraud detection represents CEP's first major incursion outside financial services. Why CEP has had success on Wall Street is obvious: the world's financial markets are heavily computerized and there are massive bits of information that can be aggregated into events, analyzed and programmatically acted upon to gain profit.

Even in the face of a devastating credit crunch in 2008-2009, CEP systems were able to pay their way on Wall Street, finding opportunities and making money. On Wall Street, more than other places, opportunity and threat go hand in hand. It is still the land of masters of the universe and legions of rocket scientists.

Wall Street is a unique use case, and CEP has had a slow haul trying to expand beyond that high-class neighborhood. Still, enterprises on Main Street want to use modern system technology to exploit their own opportunities. And CEP seems a means to that end.

Beyond the walls of Wall Street

The differences between Wall Street and Main Street are apparent. The data feeds on Wall Street are mostly in place in financial markets, and if you need a feed with a special twist, it is possible to find funding for the fine-tuning.

Need a special algorithm to analyze the event data? Can do! A few successful trades can pay the freight for the rocket scientist that creates the analytical filters.

But things are different when you leave the confines of Wall Street. CEP implementations can be threatening in themselves. These can be risky projects, with hard-to-quantify financial benefit. The would-be rocket scientists in the development group may see this as an opportunity to create their very own space program.

Navigating the course

CEP apps comprise a host of advanced technologies for application development teams to ponder. In terms of data points to gather up into 'events' you have relational data, messages, HTTP Web listens and so on. Events can be handled with software objects, rules and with SQL-like and not-SQL-like program languages. Clearly, 'technology creep' is an ever-looming menace, waiting to ambush the project.

The best course is based on application of common sense—sorry, no surprise here. When starting down the road of complex event processing, the questions revolve around how much CEP is just enough.

CEP architects need to correctly gauge how much complexity of event is just enough, what speed of update is just enough, and how much embrace of new technology is just enough. At the end of the day you will do better with "just enough rocket science."

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