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Monday, June 02, 2008

CEP Maturity Models

Posted by Louis Lovas

                                    <p>CEP Maturity Models</p>                                                                                                            

With the contentious debate on CEP maturity brewing, Tim Bass is using the Garner Hype Cycle to indicate that CEP is in the Technology Trigger phase - certainly an arguable point. Considering the next two phases
in the Gartner Hype Cycle, are "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and "Trough of Disillusionment" I'm not so sure we are at such an early phase. Those two terms give the illusion CEP is very nascent and I personally don't think so. One's view of the maturity of a software platform is predicated on past experiences and use cases. In my most recent blog on high availability the idea of a mandate on maturity was a point I was attempting to convey in the notion of Lost Opportunity vs. Loss-Less.  A Loss-Less use case clearly requires a mature platform to support such a business critical function.

As with most software infrastructure platforms, CEP being no exception, one can describe or categorize multiple maturity models. What a platform has and what a platform does.   

A CEP platform has (or should have) development tools, deployment & management tools, connectivity adapters, database adapters, dashboards, a robust architecture for reliability, scalability and high availability.  All of these infrastructure capabilities have a maturity life cycle within a CEP platform and are paramount to customer IT organizations responsible for the care and feeding of applications.
What a CEP platform does refers to what sort of applications one can build with the technology. Can one just do simple pattern detection or infinitely more complex analytics?

These two categories have independent maturity life cycles but are inter-related. To illustrate consider the following fictitious example. Say we have an application whose sole purpose is to count. What this application does is count an integer number continually for each connected client. It simply needs to count upwards - 7x24 without missing a beat, failure to count means catastrophic business failure with financial and legal ramifications. It starts out counting for just a few clients but over time grows to support thousands or tens of thousands of clients.   In order to support the deployment of our application, we need a platform with the reliability demanded of a 7x24 operation. A high availability architecture is mandated in the event of a failure and it must be able
to scale as the business growsThis simple example illustrates the point that even the simplest application, if critical to the business needs a mature platform.  Just substitute a counting application for any more complex use-case - Smart Order Routing, Dark Pool trading, Fraud detection, etc. 

What a CEP platform has tracks independently of what it is capable of doing. The maturity of what a CEP platform has is much more quantifiable, we just need to look at other platforms such as enterprise class Application Servers, Message Systems and Database systems and for the most part follow suit. What CEP does, is likely what Tim is referring to when he states we're in the Technology Trigger phase.  This maturation process will drive much more slowly and will expand as new use cases are discovered.


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Peter Lin

Given that COTS CEP has only been around a few years, I think it is safe to say it's still in the early phase. If we compare it to messaging middleware, which has been around for more than 15 years, CEP isn't as mature. Another comparison is business rule engines and expert systems. The earliest business rule engines date back to late 80's. All things considered, I would agree with Tim. COTS CEP still has a lot of time to mature.

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