Book Review: Event Processing for Business: Organizing the Real-Time Enterprise

Event Processing for Business: Organizing the Real-Time EnterpriseEvent Processing for Business: Organizing the Real-Time Enterprise
reminds me the most important part of information technology is the information. Unfortunately, information and deriving actionable business meaning from it does not get nearly the attention it deserves. So if you are a CIO or an aspiring CIO wondering about being more strategic, consider just how much time you devote to extracting information out of data and converting it into intelligence and meaning.

Event Processing for Business by David Luckham, a Research Professor at Stanford University, published by Wiley and Sons, presents the world of event processing from its historical roots in the data center and enterprise and systems management which many CIO’s will immediately connect with.

But Event Processing for Business is not specifically a book for IT managers. In fact I would recommend it more for the non-IT manager so that they can develop a better understanding of what is currently possible.

That recommendation is goes double if you are struggling with performance management, business intelligence tools or even a dashboard project. This book will shift your focus back onto the events, the attributes of those events and processing the attribute data into actionable information.

From that viewpoint I found that Luckman was very careful to keep the role of event processing, and complex event processing (CEP) in particular, focused on addressing the business needs for a real-time enterprise.

To achieve real-time enterprise requires a complex event processing strategy using a “continuous search” on the questions of “how well is the business doing” and “when has an event occurred that requires action”

The continuous search occurs against the event cloud of the organization where events are those things that have occurred and those things that are expected to occur. The notion of continuous search for the answers also requires that the search occur in Right Now Time (aka Real Time).

Although the book begins by establishing a solid history of event processing technology and its origins in business Luckman quickly shifts to the importance of CEP and the three main reasons for complex event processing:

  1. Monitor for how well the business is doing,
  2. Detect when things happen that you need to know about,
  3. Extract what you need to know from the event cloud

I was very pleased with the distinctions made between complex event processing (CEP) and business intelligence (BI) as would most non-IT managers. Non-IT managers will also appreciate the generous use of examples to draw out the distinctions which is essentially that BI is about monitoring and tracking usually from offline data whereas CEP is focused on Right Now to support interventions.

This is the difference between using reactive vs proactive systems to run your business. This perspective should also help you understand why there are so many struggles with BI projects and business dashboards.

Event Processing for Business is full of practical illustrations and examples for getting started. The examples of applications for CEP are very useful and come from a wide range of industries and business processes. The examples are also particularly useful in illustrating the construction of pattern matching models which are the expressions for complex event processing.

Luckman also includes a comparison of algorithmic and heuristic CEP strategies where he offers insights into the complexity of sequencing, ordering and filtering the event stream.

The books wraps up with a view of the future of complex event processing and the advent of holistic event processing systems. Luckman notes that in the promise of holistic event processing comes the predictive capability for future events based on the real-time event analysis.

For readers in higher education this should equate to Learning Analytics that support intervention.

Before we realize the potential of holistic event processing, standards still need to be defined and there needs to be an ability to integrate and aggregate smaller event processing systems into larger systems.

I would recommend Event Processing for Business: Organizing the Real-Time Enterprise not just because it is a very interesting read. I recommend this book because I think it will go a long way in helping CIO’s and functional managers outside of IT better understand what is possible if they push their analytics further into the event cloud of their organization and strive for real-time insights.

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