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Big Blue cloud over event processing performance

The march of the big guns

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The march of the big guns into event processing continues. Microsoft, SAS and Sybase have all got point solutions that address this space in one way or another, while it may have escaped your notice that IBM has now got two offerings in this area.

The first of these is WebSphere Front Office for Financial Markets, which is essentially a platform for combining and filtering data feeds from capital markets. In effect, it might act as a front-end to an event processing engine rather than offering such a thing directly.

Secondly, and from my point of view more interestingly, there is a now a Data Streaming Extension (DSE) for the DB2 Data Warehousing Edition. This supports real-time data feeds from, say, capital markets, directly into a DB2 data warehouse. However, the purpose of this is so that you can playback and analyse event streams rather than act upon them. That is, IBM does not yet offer the sort of static queries through data streams that is typical of the main players in this space. That said, IBM has a number of ongoing event processing projects that have yet to come to fruition, one of which will integrate streamed and persistent queries.

As an aside, very few of the people in the BI group (at least, those I met at the recent Information on Demand conference) in IBM know about the Front Office product and my guess is that very few of the people dealing with Front Office know about DSE. Tut tut!

DSE is, in fact, based on what used to be the Informix Real-time Data Loader but where that used to run at something like 30,000 transactions per second, DSE will run the hundreds of thousands of transactions per second you need for capital markets, albeit on an 8-way box, which is significantly larger than you would need with one of the pure play event processing products.

Anyway, this leads me on to the main point of this article, which is that actually being able to cater for x thousands of transactions per second. While a useful measure of performance it is not the be all and end all of event processing performance. Indeed, it is only the start.

I do not usually reference other companies' work, least of all that of vendors, but Syndera (which, incidentally, is also a provider within the capital markets sector) has recently published a white paper on event processing performance that is worth a look. It can be found here and it is not vendor specific, which is why I am prepared to recommend it.

The main point about event processing performance is that it is not just a question of the events that enter the environment. In particular, new logical events are generated within the engine - for example, if Microsoft shares go up and IBM's down, that might generate a paired event - and all of these generated events also need to be processed, along with those that are external.

In addition, of course, there are a bunch of other things that you may want to do, such as access persistent data in a data warehouse or other store, generate alerts and actions, and so on.

What Syndera's paper does is to highlight these issues and look into their implications in a way that goes beyond the simplistic approach of merely saying that you can stream transactions at such and such a speed.

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