Thursday, November 20, 2008

More on CEP

Obviously, the CEP / BRMS / BPM / boundaries debate remains hot and continues provoking soul searching.

My previous post on the this was a long (and complicated in the way it was phrased) ranting around the fact that CEP attempts to cover too many areas of the EDM picture, and at the same time does not do a deep enough job at solving the challenges around its core contribution - events as first class citizens in EDM apps. I do think the points I tried to make there remain valid.

I did also contribute a post in another blog as a reaction to a thread on the same subject.
Here is the essence of what I wrote there:

In this debate, we are essentially dealing with three core notions: events, decisions, processes. There is of course much more than that, but I think the confusion we are seeing results from lack of solid boundaries between responsibilities around these three notions. Getting to basics helps.

- Events are all about detecting what decision needs to be taken in a complex temporal context (essentially event correlation, converting monitored ‘ambient’ events into relevant business events that require reaction)
- Decisions (and I will use that term instead of rules) are all about deciding what needs to be done as a reaction to those business events
- Processes are all about executing the decision taken

In a very simplistic analogy,
- Dealing with events in an enterprise application is akin to the sensory system absorbing the information from all the sensors and sources it is connected to, and constructing a view for further decisioning and action, with or without immediate reaction, and communicating it through the nervous system.
- Dealing with decisions in an enterprise application is akin to the multi-step highly collaborative decision making the brain engages in, resulting in events and situational analysis, inclusion of further data, inferences, deductions, etc. and leading to conclusions on further reactions or proactive actions.
- Dealing with processes in an enterprise application is akin to the body executing the plan elaborated by the brain including the input from the nervous system.

CEP should address primarily the first, BRMS and other decision management technologies the second, business process the latter.

What I just outlined is centered operational aspects - as in the operational / improvement aspects distinction presented by Carole-Ann in her talks about the EDM vision at ORF and BRF [http://www.edmblog.com].

The improvement aspects cover how to leverage the information gathered by the operational system - as well as expertise - in order to improve the decisions. It starts by gathering the information and understanding it. All aspects above are to be covered: Am I capturing the right events? What if I decided to capture something slightly different: does that make my business events more relevant? Why did I capture this event at that point in time? What other events are captured within a given contextual distance from this one? Ditto for the decisions (the rules). Ditto for the execution (the processes).Why not just call these things "Event Analytics", "Decision Analytics", "Process Analytics"?Yes, they are connected. But different.

This is simplistic of course, but it has the virtue of being clear. Maybe we can try to reframe the discussions on these issues in that context?

1 comment:

Paul Vincent said...

From an analysis and design perspective, separating out events, complex events, subsequent decisions, and resulting processes makes sense. If you like, thats good methodology.

In the real world, though, things are often not so clear cut:
- the definition of a complex event may be driven by business
- the definition of which event(s) and data drive a business decision may need to be maintained by the business
- the business process may be some simple action, a service invocation, or a human process, that may need to be defined by the business
- all the above may be related.

In some ways its the BRMS community that is suffering more than the CEP one - consider decisions vs rules, rule management vs decision mgmt, SBVR policy business rules vs operational decision business rules etc. (For one attempt at sorting this out, see http://tibcoblogs.com/cep/2008/10/30/ruleml-2008-prr/ )

Note the CEP world (vendors, analysts, researchers) decided to try and avoid such problems and get together to agree terminology and definitions - see www.ep-ts.com for the "official" CEP glossary. Work on common architecture views etc starts next.

Anyhow - good to see another interesting blog - I thought neither hell nor marketing would persuade you to start blogging!!! ;)

Cheers