Forrester Gives a Welcoming Wave to Complex Event Processing

The complex event processing (CEP) space is on the rise -- so much so that Forrester Research just conducted its first-ever Wave on the industry. "This market is going to grow very quickly and there's increasing interest in these platforms," says Mike Gualtieri, senior analyst at Forrester and the author of "The Forrester Wave: Complex Event Processing (CEP) Platforms Q3 2009."

Common use cases for CEP involve hedge-fund trading and algorithmic trading. "One of the unique things about [CEP] is that it can detect patterns of events," Gualtieri says. The technology is used when two events occur within minutes, seconds, or even microseconds of each other. For example, in trading, if Company A's stock goes up 50 cents and within 5 minutes, Company B's stock drops $2, that's a pattern. CEP identifies such patterns and dictates the real-time intelligence to organizations. "Intelligence isn't just about knowing what is happening," Gualtieri says. "It's [about] looking ... at ... the patterns in real time." He goes on, "You don't get that [knowledge] by looking at a data warehouse  that's too late. It's what happened and it's historical."

If business people want to truly optimize their resources, Gualtieri stresses they must examine patterns in real time. He says that CEP transcends the application level. In fact, he advocates event processing as an architecture. "Event processing is huge," he insists. "It's going to give businesses a new way of ... analyzing and will give [the business side] a better way of communicating with IT and services."

Although this is the first vendor evaluation report for CEP, Gualtieri says determining the list of vendors deserving of spots on the Wave was fairly easy. Also, the young market included no Contenders or Risky Bets -- just Leaders and Strong Performers in the CEP space. In assembling the research, Gualtieri says he evaluated nine vendors and stumbled upon two key industry trends: The market is increasingly being shaped by acquisitions, and enterprise companies are becoming extremely interested in CEP. While IBM and Oracle already have spots on the Wave, Gualtieri says that Microsoft is building CEP into its upcoming SQL Server offering. He adds he wouldn't be surprised to see SAP make some kind of move in the near future, as well. 

Leaders (in order of Wave positioning):

  • Progress: Clearly a step ahead of the rest of the market, Progress continues to execute well, Gualtieri says. Since buying United Kingdom-based software provider Apama, Progress should be able to expand its footprint even further, Gualtieri writes. He also notes that Progress acquired Apama ahead of any of the other enterprise vendors -- a move that he says should keep Progress riding high on upcoming Waves. 
  • Aleri: Gualtieri writes that the Aleri platform can be categorized as a strong product backed by a strong strategy. In March, Aleri merged with fellow CEP software provider Coral8 in order to accelerate its product offerings. Gualtieri writes that the future of the platform rests in the combination of the two products in 2010. The rolled-up offering is likely to provide expanded application visualization tools, additional tools for business users, and more solution templates and frameworks.
  • StreamBase Systems: The provider now has an installed base of 75 customers. A large chunk of the StreamBase customer base comes from financial services companies taking advantage of the larger steaming-data platform.
  • Tibco Software: With a market presence second only to Progress, Tibco Software has 160 customers and, according to Gualtieri, strong product features. Known best for its business integration and process management software, TIBCO sells CEP as an add-on solution.
  • IBM: "IBM is very interesting," Gualtieri says. At the start of 2008, Big Blue acquired AptSoft -- which has a good tool for business users, according to Gualtieri -- to enter the CEP market. The platform, which IBM rebranded as WebSphere Business Events, allows users to define the business events they are interested in detecting. This spring, IBM announced a second CEP offering called InfoSphere Streams, which is reportedly geared toward extremely high-end event processing. Gualtieri says the offering is built to get organizations up and running very rapidly. The intelligence could be used in highly complex fields such as military intelligence. The analyst says that, as of now, it's unclear how the two IBM CEP products will fit together, but he thinks that next year the InfoSphere application will have its own spot on the Forrester CEP Wave -- noting both IBM tools are impressive. "I don't think any of the other vendors have anything like InfoSphere Streams," he says.

Strong Performers: 

  • Oracle: Gualtieri points out that Oracle got into the CEP game a bit later than some of the leaders in the space. The vendor sells its CEP product under the Oracle EDA Suite and, according to the Forrester report, it's unclear exactly how many customers are using the solution. Forrester estimates that the number is small, though. Gualtieri says that enterprise vendors such as Oracle embracing CEP will aid in bringing the market into the mainstream. 
  • Coral8: Although it recently merged with Wave Leader Aleri, Coral8 remains just outside the Leaders segment. "It is not clear how Aleri will position Coral8 to new customers or how customers will choose the Aleri platform versus the Coral8 platform once the platforms are merged,"  Gualtieri writes.
  • UC4: Mergers and acquisitions remaining the name of the CEP game, workload automation software provider UC4 Software purchased CEP player SENACTIVE this summer. SENACTIVE has a well-rounded portfolio of vertical industry solutions, Gualtieri notes. The report states that it's unlikely that UC4 will alter the SENACTIVE strategy much.
  • EsperTech: The only open-source vendor on the Wave, EsperTech is a tiny company with tools that outweigh its size. "The features in the product are remarkable for their size," Gualtieri says of the company. He points out that EsperTech doesn't have a lot of the tooling that the bigger platform providers have, but it has the core engine. "For companies that ... want to embed CEP technology into their own products, EsperTech is a great choice," Gualtieri says.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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