Progress buys Apama

Real-time enterprise

Progress has acquired Apama, whose software will now form part of the ObjectStore division of Progress.

Apama was founded towards the end of 1999 by two alumni of Cambridge University, who had collaborated in the university's computer lab for the best part of the previous decade. Originally, they set out to resolve a number of telecommunications-based real-time mobile issues, but then realised that there were commercial opportunities in a wider range of environments.

As a result, the company historically focused on financial markets and specifically financial trading systems where real-time event-based trading systems are in high demand. However, the company always appreciated that its technology was suitable for use in a wide range of other event-driven environments such as telecommunications, supply chains, security and military applications and other areas. ObjectStore wants to move the technology into these areas.

Apama is aimed squarely at the so-called "real-time enterprise"; effectively it provides event-driven query and analytic processing (in the financial arena providing algorithmic financial trading solutions) in real-time. According to the company, conventional approaches to these environments are only suitable for small scale environments or those in which limited numbers of data feeds are monitored. In particular, it argues that these solutions cannot cope with environments where large numbers of data feeds need to be combined in a complex and dynamic fashion.

The company's argues that alert engines are really suited for monitoring individual threshold events (and they can't do things like predicting if it is likely that you will cross a threshold), while more comprehensive solutions such as conventional database approaches simply lack the capability for real-time processing. Even in-memory databases require the data to be committed to the database prior to query processing, and indexes to be updated, both of which inherently mean a time delay. Moreover, such approaches are expensive (much bigger processors would be required than are typically needed for Apama) and, in any case, these do not scale well.

Apama has taken a different route. Rather than committing data to a database and then processing it, data is directly processed as it is fed into the system, without recourse to a database. In principle, all the resulting database overheads are therefore omitted, resulting in better performance and significantly improved scalability.

You can see why ObjectStore would be interested in this sort of technology. With the RFID and Financial Accelerators that it provides with its ObjectStore database it is already addressing the event-driven market, but Apama potentially puts a proven front-end onto these systems.

The question mark is how the existing Financial Accelerator and Apama work with respect to each other, since there appears to an overlap between the two sets of capabilities. No doubt this will be resolved in due course. It will also be interesting to see the other environments into which ObjectStore extends Apama's capabilities. No doubt RFID will be one. ®

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