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SOA, BPM, CEP and business rules

Several articles, not at first obviously related, caught my eye this morning. First there was an interesting article by David Cameron on Complex Event Processing today in DM Review - A New Approach to Automating Real-World Business Processes. Then I saw one by Doug Henschen in Intelligent Enterprise talking about the BEA/Fuego acquisition -  In Focus: BEA-Fuego and the SOA/BPM Convergence.  Finally a second article by Doug, In Focus: Clouds on the SOA/BPM Horizon? came by.

All three of these articles are talking about different ways to manage how an organization's systems work and enable the organization to deliver value. All three approaches - BPM, SOA and CEP - are about developing flexible, easy to modify and manage systems of one kind or another. They differ in the kinds of things they are good for - BPM is good for fairly predictable processes, CEP for responding to events (BAM is another word used here) - while SOA is an approach which can underpin and improve both CEP and BPM as well as offering other benefits.  I see all these approaches converging as part of a future architecture but what strikes me is not the differences but the similarities - for any of these approaches to work and to deliver the rapid-response enterprise of the future, decisions must be automated.

  • If I am using BPM to automate a process, I need to automate decision points within it to get straight through processing, I cannot always refer to a person.
  • If I am using CEP or BAM to respond to an event then I need to decide which events are significant, which are not and what to do about the significant ones. Again, I cannot always refer them to a person.
  • If I am adopting SOA as an approach to architecting my systems then some of the shared services are going to be decision services - which cross-sell offer to make, is a transaction fraudulent, what price to offer etc.

Regardless of how many of these approaches I use I must automate decisions. If I do then I should worry about the precision of those decisions (how accurate are they), their consistency, my agility in changing them in response to changing needs, how fast I can make them and how much it costs me to make them. These 5 dimensions are what an article in the Harvard Business Review called Decision Yield. Business rules management systems and predictive analytics are the best technology I see today for this kind of automation.

So perhaps the right approach is to be fairly relaxed about which overall approach is going to be best for a given project, and just make sure you get control of the decisions that underpin it.

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Kelly Delmonte

As someone writing on the topic of CEP, we wanted to share the following information about a humorous video parody of "The Davinci Code" and a programming contest called "The Quest for the Da Vinci Coder" we thought you might find of interest. The video and contest is sponsored by StreamBase Systems ( and AMD (

The short video is a funny spoof of the well-publicized book and movie. The associated contest challenges developers with interactive puzzles and peer-to-peer competitions with weekly and grand prize options. Weekly prize packages include a Bose® home theatre system, an iPod® ultimate collection, an Xbox 360™ premium bundle, or the opportunity to donate winnings to a favorite charity. The grand prize, which includes being named "The Da Vinci Coder," is valued at more than $10,000 USD and offers a whirlwind tour of London and Paris, an amazing zero-gravity experience, a "take the money & run" option, or the opportunity to generously donate the full prize dollar amount to a charity of the winner's choice.

Via the contest, programmers and business analysts can learn about a new paradigm for processing and analyzing real-time data and experiment with this technology by exploring the software and building prototype streaming data applications.

You can learn more and watch the short parody movie by visiting Thank you for checking this out and for sharing this with your readers at your convenience if you feel the video or contest would be of interest.


Kelly Delmonte
StreamBase Systems, Inc.

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