The Rise of Complex Event Processing

Message queuing stalwarts such as IBM and TIBCO bring decades of messaging processing expertise to the table, but some would-be players, including Informatica, come to CEP from what seems like a tangential trajectory.

Message or event processing is nothing new to mainframe professionals. MQSeries, for example, has been doing it for almost two decades.

More recently, and in tandem with the rise of service enablement and service orchestration, industry watchers and a growing number of software vendors have highlighted a new wrinkle on the message queuing of old: so-called complex event processing (CEP). Advocates distinguish CEP from ordinary event processing by emphasizing both the heterogeneity and the ever-accelerating real-time nature of messages: CEP, proponents claim, involves the management and orchestration of events from a heterogeneous mix of applications or resources -- typically at or approaching real-time speeds.

The CEP market teems with entries, from TIBCO, IBM Corp., and Oracle Corp. (among other stalwarts) to newcomers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and SAP AG, to name just two.

What's intriguing is that some players -- such as Informatica Corp. which vaulted into CEP earlier this month when it acquired Agent Logic -- are coming at CEP from a quasi-tangential trajectory. Agent Logic, for the record, is a best-of-breed CEP specialist with a large presence in federal government and similar public sector verticals. Its acquisition is part of a new push by Informatica to establish itself in a CEP market segment that -- while nominally tangential to its bread-and-butter data integration (DI) business -- is simultaneously complementary, too, according to Informatica officials.

"[The acquisition] expands some of our existing capabilities into new uses. For example, we've been offering real-time data integration capabilities where we've been able to capture changes from message queues … and process them in a trickle-feed manner," says Girish Pancha, executive vice-president of products with Informatica.

"With this complex event processing technology we think we can extend that … [to what we call] event-driven active integration. That's where we take multiple event streams and [at the same time] correlate across streams, so we can go into the historical context to deliver a high level of business value."

The Agent Logic acquisition doesn't take Informatica far afield from its data integration roots, Pancha insists. He cites Agent Logic's expertise in the identity resolution segment, which -- with its dependence on both data quality and event-driven analytic technologies -- he says complements Informatica's own offerings.

"They're leaders in what's called identity-aware event processing. Clearly, Agent Logic's focus has been on the public sector and specifically the government intelligence area. They have strong penetration there with their ability to correlate events with things like terrorist watchlists," he observes.

Agent Logic will become a component of Informatica's nascent CEP practice. Its technologies -- which Pancha describes as "generic" inasmuch as they're designed to support business analysts and can thus be embedded in or exposed via Informatica's DI or data quality tooling -- will comprise the foundational offering in Informatica's still-gestating CEP portfolio.

Agent Logic currently markets three products: Rule Point, Rule Cost, and Real-Time Alert Manager. "Their products are aimed at business analysts. They're very collaborative, so multiple business analysts can work together to effectively define the business rules with respect to events and time windows," he explains. "Agent Logic specifically focused on both operational intelligence (which was kind of focused on the public sector) and in financial services (where they have some customers using it to enforce credit card policies)."

Informatica expects to push Agent Logic beyond government and financial services, Pancha says. "From our perspective, they've done a smart thing. [They] built a really solid product that is applicable worldwide and across verticals, but they've focused their sales efforts in specific verticals. What we bring to the table, in addition to our complementary data integration [technology], is the distribution channel, so that's something that we plan to pursue," he says.

"We'll l likely [market] solution bundles with both the data quality and … the data integration capabilities, so take, for example, the PowerExchange [mainframe connectivity] product line and the PowerCenter real-time edition -- we'll have bundles for those."

Pancha frames CEP as a logical -- that is, by no means tangential -- offshoot of Informatica's bread-and-butter DI strategy. It isn't tangential, he maintains, precisely because it both complements and issues from what Informatica is doing DI-wise. In the era of service enablement, discrete thinking is passé; everything is interconnected. In other words, shops no longer think of data integration or application integration as self-contained practices.

In this respect, Pancha reiterates, Agent Logic's CEP expertise will help flesh out Informatica's existing event capture or event processing capabilities. "We actually had a number of customers that asked for these sort of [CEP] capabilities, especially in the last year," he concludes, citing the example of "an online game company that wanted to piece together in real time gamers' activities and detect fraud."