CEP market consolidation – Some thoughts

on February 4, 2010
SMARTS™ Data-Powered Decision Management Platform

Today’s announcement of Sybase’s acquisition of Aleri (not a surprise for some) continues the trend towards a quick consolidation of CEP vendors into larger platforms.

Those who follow our posts know that we’ve always found that CEP vendors have tended to position CEP too widely (http://architectguy.blogspot.com/2008/11/state-events-time-confusion-around-cep.html), covering the spectrum from event correlation to decision management, going through business intelligence. With that vague a positioning, it’s not surprising that we find confusing statements about CEP being a player made in the context of BPM, BI and BRMS, and even more spaces.

We have argued that the decision management industry, as a whole, would significantly benefit from more clarity in the positioning (http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2009/09/cep-a-predictive-modeling-facility-myth.html). Being independent and no longer part of a BRMS vendor organization does not change our position because it has never been based on a commercial standpoint.

The string of acquisitions made by the platform players is fascinating because of what they will do with the technology. Most of these vendors have a complete arsenal of products that can be combined into powerful decision management suites, but that also significantly overlap in positioning and technologies.
For these players, the number of customers coming with the acquisitions tends to be small (it is unclear that AptSoft would have had more than 10-20 customers when acquired by IBM): the technology assets are seen as key.

A couple of potential positive evolutions come to mind:

  • Part of the technology will be incorporated into the operational decision execution flow, playing the role of business event producers, triggering and interacting with business processes which themselves will be guided by business rules (http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2008/11/an-attempt-at-demystifying-cep-bpm-and-brms.html).
    This will separate concerns and bring business events to the forefront of business applications in a way which is meaningful and will not lead to the “business objects are business events” type of confusion. The technologies in CEP have a great role to play there.
  • Part of the technology will be incorporated in the real time process fabric to enable the tracking of key business metrics in real time, leading to true business-configured up-to-the-moment business dashboards.
    A lot of this is already done through other means, or even through the usage of current CEP engines. But much more dynamism needs to be achieved by the products themselves. At one point, there was some talk about CEP as a “real-time” OLAP replacement (http://www.dbms2.com/2008/10/20/coral8-proposes-cep-as-a-bi-data-platform/) – it may well be that a positive path forward is the extension of OLAP into real time, leveraging CEP technology.
    It is possible that Sybase’s acquisition of Aleri goes along those lines.

In any case, fascinating developments. Let’s see how Progress and Tibco react.

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