"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's
and unto God the things that are God's"
A recent posting in the
Enterprise Decision Management Blog entitled "Can we trust business users"
addresses a topic that seems equally pertinent to the CEP market. I think there is a tendency to become so enamored with the technical
virtuosity of new technology that we may lose sight of who the real users
are. In terms of the development of CEP
applications, an understanding of the prospective roles of business users vs.
that of IT developers seems to be an evolving thing. Apama
has long been a proponent of the participation of the business user in the
process of building CEP-driven applications. In Capital Markets, the notion of "empowering the trader" has
been a key element of our strategy and the Apama product offers a graphical
development tool, Event Modeler, that focuses on that constituency. We have another RAD tool that is intended for
developers who can create applications in our event processing language, as
We are beginning to see third
party validation of the value of this approach from outside of Capital Markets,
as well. For example, a report from
Forrester Research published earlier this year indicated that early adopters of
CEP have tended to come from the line of business rather than IT because
"developers and architects often know painfully little about these
[non-traditional, non-IT] events and how they are used to run a business." That Forrester quote is certainly not
intended to diss IT. It just recognizes
that there are lots of different kinds of events that are important to a
business and not all those events are traditional IT-aware or IT-generated
events. In order to make sense and
respond to such events, it seems quite logical that providing tools that are
amenable to a more "business" oriented audience is important.
But I would argue that it is
not just the nature of events - and their varied sources - that suggests a
strong correlation between CEP and business users. It is also the nature of the CEP-driven
applications themselves. CEP
applications are not "one and done", they tend to be iterative and evolving,
because they are crafted to respond to what is happening and what is happening
is often a frequently changing set of conditions. Or, if the conditions are not changing, how
you choose to respond to them may be changing. So you need to continually calibrate and revise.
In another Forrester report
published earlier this year, this characteristic was noted within the context
of a review of Business Activity Monitoring best practices. Event-driven BAM is a particularly strong use
case for CEP and the report stated that BAM efforts "are typically
never-ending projects" with a "high degree of change." That makes sense since BAM monitors 'business
activities' and the nature of most businesses will change over time. So to support BAM applications, it seems
perfectly logical to provide tools for business users who can take on some role
in the initial development and ongoing operational calibration of these
applications. There is clearly an
important role for developers in building these applications – no one would
suggest otherwise, but we best not forget what the “B” in BAM refers to.
What seems to be emerging is
the notion that we are should not look at CEP and/or BAM deployments as
discrete, finite projects with clearly prescribed end dates. They are continuously iterative projects that
must evolve to remain effective. That’s
the environment in which they operate. Given
that, perhaps we should not see the roles of business users and IT as fitting
within well prescribed boundaries. The
development and ongoing management of these applications will have evolving
roles for the line of business user and for IT over time. We might expect IT-centric development to
have a more dominant role in the initial deployment, but over time the goal might
be to have the line-of-business assume greater and greater roles - because the
business will be the dominant user and best positioned to react to changing
Perhaps the EDM blog posting
says it best, though it expresses it within a "business rules"
context. “Too many rules specialists
focus on rules that will get executed and not enough on the people that will
maintain those rules, although this is where the success of the project
resides.” That is quite the same for CEP
and BAM. There is a role for business
users, driven by the nature of events and the continuously evolving nature of
the applications that are “event-driven.” And it is incumbent on the technology provider to offer tools that will
facilitate that evolution. All the CEP
performance in the world will be of little use, unless that performance is
well-aligned with the needs of the business.
So we might debate who is the
metaphorical Caesar and who is God in CEP development, but the success may well rest on giving each their due.