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"Stuff happens."

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

"No plan survives first contact with the enemy."

We have a lot of sayings to remind us that we can't afford to ignore uncertainty. Instead, we must respond quickly and effectively. For enterprises, achieving this agility is a crucial challenge.

Quick and effective responses have always been critical in some cases: the military commander who must respond to a an incoming missile attack, the mission controller who must switch over to backup guidance electronics, or the nuclear power plant operator who must prevent a cooling system breakdown. But historically, such cases were limited to narrow fields and justified massive investments in developing highly specialized and optimized real time software. This software ran within closed systems and required major changes at most every few years

These days, even fairly ordinary business processes require quick and effective responses: the financial trader wanting to seize an arbitrage opportunity in an overseas market, the factory manager wanting to cancel a production run if there are high customer returns at retailers, or the insurance entrepreneur looking to create a new risk management offering based on highly dynamic factors. These processes already rely on open software that gets updated every few months.

All these ordinary, yet valuable, processes have experienced the same evolution: they have more component parts, these parts have more interconnections, and these parts are more geographically dispersed. As a result, there are more opportunities for unexpected events. Unfortunately, detecting such events isn't easy. Modern business processes generate so much data that identifying a noteworthy event is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Helping enterprises identify the unexpected requires a new software paradigm can process high-volume streams of diverse events. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) provides a starting point for this new paradigm. SOA aligns IT infrastructure with business processes by organizing functionality into coherent packages of loosely coupled components that interact using standard messaging protocols. SOA solves the problem of accessing data streams from disparate systems.

Extending SOA so solutions can identify noteworthy events within these data streams is the goal of Event-Driven SOA (EDSOA). It leverages experience from specialized real-time systems with data stream management and complex event processing. But it makes this power accessible as part of typical business application development.


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