What Exactly is Complex Event Processing Today?

By: Colin Clark,  Sys-Con.com

As much as I disagree with much of what Curt Monash writes, he did actually ask a good question recently in his post, “Renaming CEP… or not

Without getting into a rehash of the hash over there, let’s look at things a bit differently.  Let’s talk about what CEP is not.

I left trading to join a firm called NEON.  I was an early investor in this company, my mentor had started the firm, and to me it looked like the cat’s meow.  It was a great time, a lot of people made a ton of money, and I was introduced into the world of software via Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)…..

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I’ve worked with both of those packages – no mention of Complex Event Processing in there at all.  So where did that phrase even come from?  Well, that’s the title of David Luckham’s book, “The Power of  Events” in which the good professor describes not so much an implementation, but a set of processes designed to help us all run our businesses and missions more effectively.  In the book though, David references a language that deals with streaming data.  Oh oh….

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So, I don’t think what a couple of vendors sell as Complex Event Processing is really CEP at all.  If you want an idea of what CEP is really all about, read David’s book to get started.  Then take a look at Tim Bass’s blog thecepblog.com.

In my next post, I’ll describe what CEP means to me and talk about some of the current offerings in that space.  But for now, let’s just drop the phrase CEP (because it’s mostly just Stream Processing) because it means so little to so many and fails to impart any meaningful message to the people who actually write checks for this stuff.

DCL: Well, I’ve just written another book “Event Processing for Business” to try and explain CEP a bit better in layman’s terms, than I did in “Power of Events”. It’ll be out soon, published by Wiley.  Meanwhile Colin’s blog should generate some debate. And one thing he gets wrong here …. Rapide was an event processing language for processing clouds of events, event streams being a special and less complicated case of clouds. I called them POSETS, Partially Ordered Sets of Events.  Perhaps that terminology was a mistake!

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