Business event management (BEM) and complex event processing (CEP) are two of the newest features to be provided in the business process management suite (BPMS) market. These expanded capabilities illustrate how the core capabilities of BPMS tools can provide the foundation for increasingly sophisticated integration solutions. BEM and CEP rely on the availability of key process-oriented features that are core components of BPMS tools; process modeling, process execution, process monitoring and business rules. In fact, for most scenarios, BPMS solutions should be considered a de-facto prerequisite for pursuing BEM and CEP efforts.
Forrester defines business event management as the process of capturing real-time business events from multiple sources and assigning them to the appropriate decision maker for resolution based on the business context of the events. In some ways, BEM is closely linked to human workflow systems that have been available for many years. However, there are a couple of key distinctions. First, BEM focuses on system-level events, whereas workflow traditionally focused on human-oriented tasks. This gives BEM more of a real-time, synchronous capability compared to workflow-based systems, which, by their very nature, are asynchronous. Also, workflow-based systems were normally custom-developed from scratch, while BEM relies on pre-built resolution components that can be customized to cover a wide range of business scenarios.
Forrester defines complex event processing as the automated correlation of events into patterns that may represent a threat or opportunity, and orchestrating an appropriate response. The concept of CEP was originally defined by David Luckham and Brian Frasca at Stanford University in the late 1990s. In practical implementations, a BPMS solution is used to model the normal behavior of the target system.
Then the CEP component captures information on a range of system-level, application-level and external events, correlating them into patterns based on the concepts of causal event histories, event patterns, event filtering and event aggregation. In effect, CEP systems automate the capture, analysis and response to key patterns of activity.
BEM and CEP provide additional tools for organizations to extend the capabilities of their BPMS investments through their ability to support responses to events and patterns detected during the execution of key business processes. These new components increase the value proposition of the initial BPMS investment by increasing an organization's agility and flexibility. They are examples of the extended BPMS capabilities that will be available in the next two or three years, and they demonstrate the benefit of choosing a comprehensive, vendor-supplied BPMS solution aligned with core SOA standards.
Ken Vollmer is a principal analyst in Forrester's Application Development & Infrastructure research group, covering trends, issues, and strategies related to all forms of integration, including business process management (BPM), enterprise application integration (EAI), B2B integration (B2Bi), and electronic data interchange (EDI). He has assisted hundreds of clients in North America and Europe with their integrating projects, drawing upon his knowledge of vendor offerings and emerging integration trends, including the latest developments related to Web services and SOA.
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