Saturday, September 22, 2007

CEP Conference Report

I thought that the CEP conference would be a sleepy little symposium, but I was wrong.

Gartner ran their conference on Business Process Monitoring on the Monday-Wednesday morning, and it dovetailed exactly into the CEP conference. There was also an academic conference on CEP that ran concurrently with the BPM conference, so you had a lot of academics and curiosity-seekers at the CEP conference.

I would estimate that there were about 200 attendees at the CEP conference, but probably half were from the vendor community. I counted about 50-60 attendees in the financial services track at the conference, and again, about 40-50% were vendors. So, there were probably about 30 folks from the financial services industry who were really curious about CEP.

I give these numbers to illustrate that, in financial services, CEP is still in the curiousity stage. I am happy to say that most of the people there were just as confused as we were (ie: what is the difference between a CEP engine and a rules engine, what is the best messaging middleware to use, do we really need a visual designer, etc). Most of the people who were using CEP were using it in a simple stream case ... pricing, algos, fraud detection, etc. I did not see any use cases that approach the magnitude of what we have to do, but then again, I don't expect organizations like Goldman Sachs to advertise what they are doing.

It was nice to see some of the vendors trotting out their successes in financial services (Aleri with HSBC, CommerzBank and Barcap, Streambase with BofA, Coral8 with Wombat), and start to establish some meaningful partnerships. Nice to see that Coral8 is working closely with RTI.

Mary Knox of Gartner did a nice presentation on what it takes to get CEP adopted by a large financial organization, but she compensated for this nice presentation by monopolizing the Q&A session with Robert Almgren of BofA. I was a bit puzzled by IBM's message about what parts of their CEP framework were already available in Message Broker, who was supporting it in IBM, who we get services from, etc.

I was impressed with Mark from Coral8, who seems to bring that Russian mad scientist mentality to his company. Also encouraging to see that Terry Cunningham is at the helm at Coral8, fresh from his successes at Crystal and other companies. Terry knows what it takes to make a successful software company. They also seem to be on the top of their game with financial services, without restricting themselves solely to algo trading.

Aleri seems like they have some raw power in their platform, and over time, they will be polishing their message more. They win the award for the most genial vendors of the conference.

The key takeaways were:

1) The CEP industry is still at its infancy.
2) It's a fairly hot buzzword right now.
3) The complete stack is important if you do large deployments. We need to understand all of the pieces surrounding the CEP engine.
4) Message volumes are increasing at an exponential rate in financial services.
5) It will be a long battle to break all of the silos in our company.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

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