Stephen Few is rapidly positioning himself as the guru of business visualizations. His name has been brought to my attention several times over the past few weeks as someone to pay attention to .... "a new Edward Tufte", if you will.
Few has an online library with a lot of free articles to read. Right now, I'm reading Multivariate Analysis using Heatmaps. This is especially worthwhile reading following last week's visit by Richard and Markus of Panopticon, who showed more reasons why we should graduate from the free Microsoft heatmap control to the more feature-laden, doubleplusunfree, Panopticon product. As Panopticon adds more features in the value chain, it will be increasingly difficult to justify using a free product.
Which brings me to another point that I have been thinking of ... a point that I raised on my previous blog posting. In the field of Enterprise Software, where do the responsibilities of a vendor begin and where do they end?
Take Panopticon, for instance. You can bind a streaming "dataset" to Panopticon, and Panopticon will render a realtime updating Heatmap to visualize that dataset. Of course, you ask how you get data into Panopticon, and you come back with the concept of input adapters.
Then, gradually, you wonder if their input adapters cover KDB, Wombat, Reuters, Vhayu, OpenTick, generic JMS, sockets, etc.
Then you wonder if Panopticon has input adapters that take the output of CEP engines, like Coral8 and Streambase. Or, you have a crazy thought like Panopticon embedding a copy of Esper/NEsper inside of itself.
Then, you get really greedy and wonder if Panopticon provides built-in FIX adapters that will devour a FIX 4.4 stream of orders and executions and show you what exchanges are slow today.
Then you wonder what kinds of analytical tools Panopticon might interface with ... since Panopticon is doing parsing and analysis of the streaming data anyway, can't it just take an extra step and analyze the silly data.
But, then if you are demanding all of these things of Panopticon and Coral8, how do you hook them together? Does the dog wag the tail or does the tail wag the dog?
Or, do we just consider Panopticon a simple visualization tool, demanding nothing more of it then the ability to display brightly colored rectangles of streaming data, and likewise, do we ask nothing more of Coral8 than to do what it does best ... recognize patterns and perform filtering and aggregations.
As Dali-esque as these thoughts may appear, this is the kind of things that I need to consider. In my quest for an ecosystem around the CEP engine, do we ask for the CEP engine vendors to expand outwards, or do we take the outer layer of components (ie: the visualization and analysis tools) and ask them to expand inwards to meet the CEP engine. Whatever it is, my wish would be for a true plug-and-play architecture between the CEP engine, its input components, and its output components.
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