David Luckham, inventor of CEP
Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

What is CEP?

Complex Event Processing (CEP) is an emerging technology for building and managing information systems. The goal of CEP is to enable the information contained in the events flowing through all of the layers of the enterprise IT infrastructure to be discovered, understood in terms of its impact on high level management goals and business processes, and acted upon in real time. This includes events created by new technologies such as RFID.

Visit the comprehensive CEP website.

Other articles by Dr. Luckham:

BAM And CEP: A Marriage Of Necessity Or: Why BAM Must Use CEP
BAM Providers As Online Banking Fraud Preventers
The Beginnings of IT Insight: Business Activity Monitoring
Grand Visions For e-Commerce Require Solving 'IT Blindness'
Avoiding Disasters Waiting To Happen
"/> Building The Instantly Responsive Enterprise- Page 2

Figure 1: This figure illustrates the high-level architecture for integrating a CEP system as an upstream trigger for BAM and BPM systems.


The following business scenarios highlight the synergy between CEP and BPM. These examples capture the interaction and integration points of these processes.

Scenario 1: Create a New Business Process
There are myriad examples of CEP generating a composite business event that has significant and immediate consequences for the business. One example that affects many consumers is the loss of baggage during air travel. According to USA Today, U.S. airlines lost 10,000 passenger bags per day in 2005.

CEP technology enables airlines to draw on events from the event clouds of various disjointed operations to discover that a passenger bag is lost as soon as it happens. As a result, they can update the BAM dashboard to show that the bag is lost. In parallel, the system could trigger a BPM process to do one or more of the following:

  • Alert customers through their communication device of choice that their baggage has been lost. This will save the customer hours of aggravation waiting in baggage claim.
  • Send an alert to baggage operations to locate the bag and determine the fastest way to get it to the traveler’s destination.

Scenario 2: Take an Alternate Business Process Route
Consider a business process representing the interactions between the telesales representative at a communications service provider and its customers. A CEP-enabled BAM dashboard shows the representative, in real time, the various parts required to fulfill an order. If the provisioning date is not acceptable to the customer, the representative can send out an alert to the provisioning department responsible for the delay. The representative then takes an alternate route and searches for and finds a backup supplier who can provide it much sooner. Consequently, the business process follows this alternate path to provide the necessary part and fulfills the customer order on time.


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