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The Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) has become the de facto integration fabric for modern service-oriented architectures (SOAs). By connecting and mediating services, ESBs help create streams of events that have significant business value. To take full advantage of these new streams of data, a new class of software called event stream processing, or ESP, provides the ability to monitor and analyze events as they flow through an ESB, identify patterns among them, and invoke appropriate actions instantly – at the instant threat or opportunity is detected. ESP enables an event-driven SOA to decipher event patterns (if A is followed by B and then by C), with temporal (within 4 seconds) or spatial (within 10 feet) constraints among events as they flow through the ESB. And more importantly, with ESP you can react to these patterns instantly. Some think of ESP as an “enterprise monitor” that allows a business to continuously analyze business conditions in real-time, identify threat and opportunity, and act in real-time.

ESP makes ESB services more intelligent, and is the next step in the evolution of the ESB revolution.

ESP and ESB at Work in Baggage Handling

An example of how the ESP and ESB can work together is in the transportation industry, where flight operations for airlines have become increasingly more automated. Naturally, airlines operations are among the most distributed systems in the world, and many airlines and airport authorities are adopting ESBs as their integration backbone. ESP is used by these systems to gain end-to-end visibility into this distributed environment for real-time detection and correction of problems.

An example of a critical real-time event processing application is baggage handling. The average trip for a passenger’s bag is much more complicated than the journey of the passenger. Before your bag is loaded onto your plane it is handled between 8 and 15 times in most major airports, with much of the handling manual and, as a result, error prone. Most airlines won’t know a bag has been mishandled until the passenger reports it as lost. Each mishandled bag costs an airline an average of $150. With the largest airlines in the world handling 10’s of millions of bags a year, better baggage handling could means savings of 10’s of millions of dollars for one airline alone.

In the baggage handling architecture below, the points along the path of the baggage handling process are integrated with an ESB. As a piece of baggage travels from check-in to conveyor belt to universal loading device (ULD) to the plane’s cargo bay, the steps can be tracked by ESB endpoint-enabled automated systems. And, as airports are truly distributed, each one is integrated with the ESB fabric to provide end-to-end visibility into the baggage handling process. Although each service within this system may have different technologies, a key benefit of an ESB is that it normalizes disparate enterprise event streams into XML; events are transformed into a normalized form by the ESB fabric and these events are delivered in streams that can be analyzed for patterns in real-time by ESP. Each system tracks activity and emits events via the ESB that represent bag movement, location, and status.


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