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DL: Hey guys, welcome back to the podcast. I have Dale Skeen with me today and Dale is the CEO of Vitria. And Dale is a visionary in the Service Oriented Architecture world and has indeed been a visionary in the Enterprise Application Integration world. And even prior to it being cool to kind of follow enterprise application integration, when I was running the AI book back in the 90s, one of the only good content providers and visionaries that I could follow was Dale Skeen and his company Vitria.

And so he's built Vitria into a visionary company kind of leading the way in enterprise integration and now Service Oriented Architecture. And specifically, he's been focusing his technology on Operational Intelligence as related to Business Processes Management. So Dale, I’m not going to get too much into that before talking to you. So tell us was what's your background, what does Vitria do? And then let’'s get into the whole Operational Intelligence space.

DS: Okay. Well David, thank you for the introduction. Vitria was a company founded in 1994 really to pioneer the spaces of Business Process Management and later on Business Activity Monitoring so we been very successful in bringing the concept of Business Process Management to the marketplace and seeing that really become an established trend in the business ecosystem.

And what we focus on now is sort of taking the new generation of technologies that we've seen emerge of the past few years like Web 2.0 technologies, SOA, which is a great enabler for a lot of capabilities, and Business Activity Monitoring, which is tied to Business Process Management to the next step.

DL: So get us into kind of the mode of Operational Intelligence. You know as I was reading through the white paper, I was fascinated with kind of this vision here. And the fact of the matter is we’re not only solving the issues around integration and getting into better architectures such as a Service Oriented Architecture, but we have this reactive infrastructure so to speak, the ability to make decisions in real time.

I mean your analogy of rebooking a flight as a plane has canceled automatically, and they notifying the passenger, and notifying the airlines, making sure your bags are moved to the correct thing. It’s something that we can’t do today. What does this bring to the existing world of Service-Oriented Architecture and what are the realities of real-time decision-making?

DS: Okay. Well, again, looking at the foundations that we put in place over the past two years, Business Process Management and SOA technology, ESB, integration capabilities. The question is what new capabilities have we enabled to really allow businesses to react faster and provide better services to their customers. And we believe what this new infrastructure really enables is this notion of Operational Intelligence, which is real-time visibility, and insight into business activity, into your business processes, into your business operations and that’s so you can optimize your operations or react more responsibly.

The example you gave is great, it comes from our white paper, which is what happens with an airline, for example, delays a flight or flight is late in getting to the gate. A whole slew of activities has to happen from that. After we assign gates, they have to see which passengers are affected, which flights are affected, and they want to hold the flights that have the highest revenue connecting passengers on. Today, businesses cannot do these sorts of analysis. But with his new infrastructure and with this new capability called Operational Intelligence, you'll be able to do that.

DL: So that's awesome. So what are the mechanisms that your technology provides to make that happen? In other words, what should people look for in technology to drive Operational Intelligence?

DS: Well, we see that there’s five critical capabilities in order to be able to do Operational Intelligence. The first is you need access to a wide variety of data sources and these need to be timely or real time if possible. When I say real-time, meaning business real-time, just second to two minutes not necessarily microseconds. But access to both traditional data sources such as transactional systems, your databases, of course, and nontraditional sources which are enabled by now through the web.

Now, e-mail through your things that come through RSS feeds etc. The second thing is be able to analyze this information in real time in a continuous fashion. So you can sort of pose questions of interest like which flights are late, or if I am looking at, for example, web promotional campaign, I want to be able to act to that. Which promotions are people clicking on? Why is demand -- what do I see the customer demand coming in? And to be able to do this in real time.

The third is to be able to access and correlate related information from my databases, for example. [Inaudible] to look at market data, I want to know what customers or what partners are related to that. I may want to also look at historical information so be able to correlate current and historical information. The fourth capability is the ability to use a wide variety of systems to be able to take action and I think this is one of, in some sense, the most interesting aspect of Operational Intelligence.

We usually think of intelligence just stopping with the analysis, but really to be intelligent, you need to be able to react as you said. And so the ability to respond in automated fashion through business rules or through, in particular, using Business Process Management technologies. And the fifth is ability to provide rich visualization of the raw [Inaudible] data and the outcomes of your actions.

DL: That’s key technology and your technology compasses that? You guys do that within Vitria.

DS: Yes, we do. Now, okay, these are the key capabilities. Now, to achieve these capabilities, you need the following technologies. You need a SOA infrastructure or capability, which most companies have today. And we provide some of that capability, but, again, most companies have that. What goes beyond that though, is that we provide capability in three important emerging technologies.

One is in CEP, Complex Event Processing. So imagine you want to be able to do continuous analysis of this real-time information. Unfortunately, standard business intelligence tools and database tools are for stored data and for periodic queries not for continuous analysis of real-time information as it changes. The technology that’s suitable for that type of analysis is Complex Event Processing.

Your listeners don't have to know a lot about CEP, is its just important. It enables you to look at changing data in a real-time fashion and do complex analysis over at. So that's the first technology. The second technology is business rules. Again, many companies are familiar with this, but you can use business rules to establish business policies that allow you to react in automated fashions.

Remember one thing I said about Operational Intelligence it’s not only can you analyze the information; you can react. So the use of business rules to define business objectives when interesting trends occur. And the third technology is Web 2.0 technology. And the key behind Web 2.0 technology is to really empower the business user and the business analyst to define what's of interest to the business and what’s of interest to the analysts.

So for example, do you want to look at demand in real times? So again, you can tune your web promotions. Do you want to look at suspicious events in real time too to detect fraud? Do you want to look at the airplane example -- do you want to look at the incoming traffic whether you’re a passenger carrier or you’re an express package delivery carrier so that you can determine when things are happening correctly or when things go wrong and react quickly?

And Web 2.0 technologies allow you to not only look at that information, but allows users capability to add contextual information like what locations are you looking at, things like Google Earth. So those are the three technologies together allow you to go to the next level, which is what we call Operational Intelligence.

DL: Yeah. So, in other words, the opportunity here is that we have is access to information we didn't have years ago and that, in other words, the ability to track packages and find out if planes are delayed and all that kind of stuff is your Web APIs that are available on the Internet today most of them for free. And we can kind of create this central mind control of how all this information interrelates one to another and make decisions based on having this information available to us. I didn't even think about that.

The ability to kind of cross integration with the new information streams and the whole next-generation Internet is really kind of key to this; would you agree?

DS: Absolutely, I agree. Again, it goes back to user enablement. I think Web 2.0 is all about user enablement and planning the power of really the ability to do what IT used to do like data integration into the hands of the users directly. And the other thing that's important is to allow not only the traditional source of data but the nontraditional source of data.

There's so much more data out there. The ten years was not available to you, the data on the web, the data through your click screens, the data through Web services externally, the data through your RSS feeds. Again, not only to make that data accessible but to put that power into the hands of users which I think Web 2.0 with this capability, rich visualization, and its mashup capability is really enabling for the first time.

DL: Now, one of the things that I've noticed in my running around with my Service Oriented Architecture clients is that this seems logical to me and if I look at the business benefit of this, this is always going to be have a business benefit and the information seems so inexpensive. So why aren't organizations driving in this direction right now? What's things are stopping them from moving in this area to this Operational Intelligence kind of a notion?

DS: Well, I think probably two things. First of all, the previous technologies, which are sort of comparable, business intelligence and BAM or Business Activity Monitoring, are not sufficient. That’s technology they're sort of used to and just trying to apply these technologies to this new wealth of data and be able to just real-time analysis they don't hold up. Business intelligence for example, is you store data and it's got to be in a data format and usually can you transactional data from operational systems and then new types of data coming in through the web.

So there’s deficiencies there. And so they try to apply those technologies and they hit a roadblock. So I think really that's the first thing. The second thing is this is enabled by these new technologies, which they’re not very familiar with yet.

Complex Event Processing, in particular, and maybe Web 2.0 and how Web 2.0 goes beyond the consumer Internet into the enterprise itself and making use of those concepts. But when you bring those two together, you get a powerful platform that enable these capabilities. I think as sort of the word gets out, if you will, businesses will be quick to jump on.

DL: So anyway, summarize this for our listeners. What are the three key reasons they should be looking at this technology? How can they get in touch with you guys to use your technology and where can they go for additional information?

DS: Okay. So why would they be interested in this technology? Well, the first is to be able to really have visibility in their business activities to better optimize their business operations. If you’re a logistics company, a transportation company, being able to see the current situation where traffic patterns are, how to route around them, and unusually advanced delays are critical. So that's one.

Another example would be if you’re on the web and you want to optimize your web promotions or understand what your customers is doing in more details, this technology allows you to do that. It allows you to analyze what customers are looking at what, what they're buying right now, which promotions they're asking for broken down by demographics, by geographical trends, etc. And so they can optimize their marketing campaigns and, hopefully, therefore optimize their revenues.

And the third is just overall it lets the business be much more responsive because they can detect suspicious activity, or opportunities, or competitive threats very quickly now, and they can respond appropriately. And where appropriate, they can also add automated responses to that. So that's just three compelling reasons for businesses to take a serious look at this. Okay. And where can they get more information? Well, they can go to our website at www.Vitria.com to download white papers that talk about this, to look at our products.

We do have products and Operational Intelligence we call it the Operations Book Product and it really focuses on the technologies that we talked about and the capabilities we just talked about.

DL: Well great, great information. Again, I'm talking with Dale Skeen, CEO of Vitria Technologies and his vision around Operational Intelligence. Thank you very much for being on the podcast, Dale.

DS: David, it's been a pleasure. Thank you.

Announcer: This has been an ebizQ podcast.

[End of Audio]

About the Author

Dr. Dale Skeen co-founded Vitria with Dr. JoMei Chang in 1994, and oversees the technology direction of the company. He is widely credited with inventing distributed publish-subscribe communication with more than a dozen patents in this and related technologies awarded or pending. Dr. Skeen has more than 20 years experience in designing and implementing large-scale computing systems and is well known for his technical contributions in the areas of distributed computing and database systems. Dr. Skeen is also the industry visionary recognized with creating and developing Business Process Integration and Real-time Business Process Analysis, two of the innovative foundations of Vitria's solutions.

Dr. Skeen is also a prolific author, having contributed to ten books and written numerous journal articles on distributed computing and integration technology. Prior to founding Vitria, Dr. Skeen was a co-founder of Tibco, where he served as Chief Scientist. He has held faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley and at Cornell University.

Dr. Skeen received his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in distributed database systems. In May 2001, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of California, Berkeley, for "fundamental contributions in publish-subscribe communication." (Previous award winners include Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple, and Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems.)

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