Complex Event Processing
Building The Instantly Responsive Enterprise
By Dan Tortorici, Director of Product Marketing, Oracle
Over the last several years, business process management (BPM) has evolved
from a mysterious alchemy of arc-and-bubble graphics to a mainstream tool of
the trade that integrates IT technologies for business advantage. In parallel,
complex event processing (CEP) has expanded beyond being applicable only in
the isolated domain of foreign exchange trading and is now improving a broad
range of processesfrom transportation logistics to customer relationship
management. Put BPM and CEP together and you get intelligent business processes
that react to changing business conditions in real time, providing continuous
visibilityin short, an instantly responsive enterprise.
The goal of CEP is to discover information contained in the events detected
throughout all layers of the organization, understand the information at the
macro level as comprising a complex event, determine its impact,
and then act upon it in real time. BPM helps organizations ensure that business
processes are optimally defined, managed, executed, and monitored.
An event-driven BPM solution offers the following benefits:
Real-Time Sense and Respond
An event-driven BPM solution enables each step in a business process to
be informed not only by the previous step, but also by any other step, data,
and pattern of behavior deemed relevant to that step. This gives business the
ability to "sense and respond," which is the default operating mode
for all businesses. Because CEP operates in the real-time domain, an event-driven
BPM solution can respond and operate in real time.
Real-Time Visibility with Business Activity Monitoring
An event-driven BPM solution generates and executes events and business processes
in real time, thus it supports business activity monitoring (BAM), which gives
users complete visibility of business processes in real time. According to a
recent customer survey, such visibility is the second most common driver of
return on investment.
Real-Time Process Monitoring and Control
Companies can manage events to better monitor progress, track performance, meet
service-level agreements (SLAs), manage exceptions, and issue alerts to automated
operations or employees when a process is not functioning properly.
Figure 1: This figure illustrates the high-level architecture for integrating
a CEP system as an upstream trigger for BAM and BPM systems.
BUSINESS SCENARIOS: INTEGRATING CEP AND BPM
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 travelers 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.
Scenario 3: Prevent Service-Level Agreement Violations
Consider when a new loan application is made, it initiates a loan origination
process that sends request events to three services: income review, credit check,
and house appraisal. There are hundreds of these loan applications in the system
at any one time. CEP can be used to monitor the process instances to detect
loan amounts of more than US$1 million. The CEP engine has an event pattern
trigger that responds when the income review, credit check, and house appraisal
steps for the same loan are completed. If the time it takes to complete these
three events exceeds a preset limit, then the overall process instance for that
loan is judged to be in danger of violating the SLA. An alert is triggered and
an action is taken: the priority for executing the risk assessment is raised.
Scenario 4: End a Rogue Business Process
Consider a straight-through business process for a credit card transaction.
Again, there are millions of such transactions going through the system at any
given time. CEP can help detect patterns that identify potentially fraudulent
behavior in real time, and instances of business processes that are suspected
to be fraudulent are paused immediately (but not canceled). The processes are
sent for manual review and can only proceed following managerial approval.
Integrating CEP and BPM makes it possible to process business events optimally.
And yet, in the marriage of these two technologies, the complex processing component
is critical. In a world where large enterprises are bombarded with a million
events per second, CEP is the only technology that can filter out unnecessary
data; recognize patterns; and aggregate, process, and derive composite events
that have an impact on business processes.
According to the article "SOA, EDA, BPM and CEP Are All Complementary,"
the easiest way to build a new event-driven process is to use technology based
on event-driven service-oriented architecture (SOA), which offers event-driven
services necessary for new processes. The synergy of BPM and CEP can be fully
realized by using the power of CEP technology built on event-driven SOA to design
business processesand ultimately to become an instantly responsive enterprise.
About the Author
Dan Tortorici, Director of Product Marketing for Oracle Business Process Management Suite, is a domain expert in business process management and portal technology. His experience in the private sector as a customer of enterprise software technology has given him a pragmatic perspective in the application of technology to address business challenges.More by Dan Tortorici