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I can picture it now: I'm sitting at a fancy Las Vegas casino playing blackjack or craps and every card and roll of the dice seems to be going my way. I've gone from a handful of colorful chips to an armful—enough to flip the extras to the appreciative crowd that's gathered to watch my unprecedented winning streak. Tonight, I can feel the impending outcome of each hand of cards and roll of the dice. It's as though I can see every number that's coming up and I'm alerted to what going to happen even before it happens. It's almost like I have some hidden, remote application alerting me to events.

But in reality I don't. Cards and dice are not my friends. While I'd like to picture myself flying off to Las Vegas for a wild weekend where I sit down and win millions, the reality is that I don't know what's going to happen—and I often don't even know what has just happened. I rarely win at cards and even less frequently at craps. To win in games of chance, you need either luck or inside information on what's going to happen before it does. I have neither.

Unfortunately, neither do most businesses. Making the right business decisions means either having the right information when you need it (such as before the dealer plays her hand), or simply being very lucky all the time. For most companies, the former strategy is difficult and expensive, and latter is exciting but extremely unlikely.

Like the Las Vegas desert and water, businesses are starved for the right information at the right time. Over the past twenty years, many have developed good (if not perfect) ways of collecting, storing, manipulating, and reporting on conventional business, and business process, data. But incorporating dynamic, ad-hoc, event-driven data is still difficult for many organizations. But that doesn't mean that the need isn't there. For example, an organization may use spreadsheets to keep track of their inventory, and want to automatically notify or update salespeople in the field when the warehouse ships out a large, stock-depleting order of a certain product, so they don't promise immediate fulfillment of that product and disappoint key customers.

It's not that these event-driven processes or data requirements are new-they're not. Publish and subscribe middleware that excels at event-driven notification of key application events has been around for years. But many of these solutions have focused on application-to-application system-level communications and were not necessarily designed for use over the Internet.


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