It used to be that Coral8 and StreamBase were the two complex event/stream processing (CEP) vendors most committed to branching out beyond the super-low-latency algorithmic trading marketing. But StreamBase seems to have pulled in its horns after a management change, focusing much more on the financial market (and perhaps the defense/intelligence market as well). Aleri, Truviso, and Progress Apama, while each showing signs of branching out, don’t seem to have gone as far as Coral8 yet. And so, though it’s a small company with not all that many dozens of customers, my client Coral8 seems to be the one to look at when seeing whether CEP really is relevant to a broad range of mainstream – no pun intended – applications.
Coral8 today unveiled a new product release – the not-so-concisely named “Coral8 Engine and Portal Release 5.5” – and a new buzzphrase — “Continuous Intelligence.” The interesting part boils down to this:
Coral8 is proposing CEP — excuse me, “Continuous Intelligence” — as a data-store-equivalent for business intelligence.
This includes both operational BI (the current sweet spot) and dashboards (the part with cool, real-time-visualization demos).
Technically, this adds a layer of complexity – since the persistent data store isn’t going away, CEP is just additive to the environment. And if an enterprise has invested in an operational-style warehouse with sufficiently low latency, it’s not always obvious how much CEP adds. But how low is sufficient? Consider the use cases:
- Identify which network issues are actually hurting a website user’s experience, and fix them. Coral8 reports multiple customers have bought into this one.
- Capture website click behavior and get it to the call center in time for the frustrated web users call. Coral8 reports that at least Sallie Mae has adopted this app.
The latter seems to require true sub-minute latency, and the former isn’t that far behind. It’s quite conceivable that CEP could be a faster and easier way of implementing this capability than would a full operational warehouse build.
There’s one more point in CEP’s favor – it’s really good at sharing intermediate results among multiple queries. Of course, there are multiple ways of doing something like this, from Teradata’s query optimizer to various DBMS vendors’ results caches to various BI vendors’ ways of querying against report results to Oracle’s and IBM/Applix’s MOLAP accelerations. Still, at least in theory, the CEP approach to KPI (Key Performance Indicator) tracking has a lot of merit.
Coral8 has identified three groups of apps where there seems to be customer traction or recognized need for these capabilities, to wit (my names, not theirs):
- Algorithmic trading
- CRM/customer experience (including antifraud)
- Keeping operations running smoothly
Perhaps not coincidentally, those areas comprise a significant fraction of the vibrant use cases for analytic technology overall.