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Circling The Complex Event Processing Wagons

Events in business processes happen, and then the rest of the high-tech world scrambles to catch up with them.

But wouldn't it be nice if your company had technology that could react to business process events as they happen to make more informed business decisions?

This is why startups are banking on complex event processing (CEP) to further capitalize on the explosive growth in RFID , as well as in financial services, defense and other industries.

CEP is an emerging category of software that conducts real-time queries on high-speed data from systems, databases and applications.

The technology then applies rules to pinpoint patterns and trends that would normally go unnoticed by IT administrators.

Combing through legacy data can help predict what might happen in the future. In the case of RFID, it can be used to scan products to rapidly gauge inventory in a supply chain.

Quick scanning and inventory checking can yield competitive advantages for businesses trying to pump out a mass quantity of a quality product.

CEP might also spot threats or systems failures, making it an ideal candidate for fraud detection and other types of security measures, said Gartner analyst Roy Schulte.

"The benefit there is situational awareness," Schulte said. "You can extract more information about your environment by applying rules to a series of events. From that, you can derive a better understanding of what's happening in the world."

Financial services businesses, such as trading firms, were among the first companies to endorse such predictive correlation technologies, using proprietary technologies to analyze data kept in millions of transactions.

But Ventana Research analyst Dan Everett said that event processing is becoming increasingly necessary in all vertical businesses because of the amount of real-time data companies produce.

Startups rev their processing engines

Numerous startups have toiled in relative obscurity to develop CEP software to meet these demands.

Companies such as Coral8, Streambase, Aleri, AptSoft and others are hoping their brands of event processing software will be strong enough to make them the leader in a green-field market.

Coral8 CEO Terry Cunningham had his doubts that there was a viable market for CEP. Over time, he said it became apparent that the need for CEP has been accelerated by the proliferation of real-time data, especially in financial services shops.

"Wall Street couldn't ignore it," he added. "They spent millions and millions of dollars building custom applications to deal with the real-time data, and they've been doing that for decades."

Coral8 just launched version 4.0 of its software engine with a huge emphasis on scalability, and is relying on a strategy Cunningham used to make Crystal Decisions a successful company before he sold it to Business Objects.

That approach is to convince the application developer that Coral8's software will aid his ability to build quality software.

Cunningham said Coral8's engine sits apart from some of the other startups, because it uses a SQL-based language, called Coral8 Continuous Computation Language (CCL), that makes it easier for developers to build an application without Coral8 engineers looking over their shoulders.

This ease-of-use factor, Cunningham believes, will enthuse developers to tell their bosses to buy Coral8's engine.

Why not, if they can build applications that can give business managers more insight into the various events that affect their businesses?

And if that doesn't happen, they at least want to be attractive enough to make the bigger vendors sit up and take notice, said Cunningham.

That's the thinking behind Coral8 and the other startups.

Next page: AptSoft takes a broader angle