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Can IBM Simplify Complex Event Processing?

Think complex event processing sounds too complex? IBM can help. It has renamed the technology business event processing in one of several announcements it's making at Impact, its annual SOA conference that starts today.

Though the conference is nominally about SOA, IBM's two biggest product launches are both focused on BPM. As well as the new spin on CEP, it's releasing the IBM Business Process Management Suite, a bundle that's essentially BPM in a box: a complete stack that contains a modeling environment, fabric, and all the underlying SOA components needed to get BPM working. This focus on BPM isn't a huge surprise. Many vendors (IBM evidently included) believe that BPM is the killer app for SOA, thanks to its relatively rapid ROI for some users.

Called WebSphere Business Events, the new CEP product has more than just a friendlier-sounding name. IBM says it's also trying to make the technology more accessible to nondevelopers -- which means any staff member within an organization, not just business analysts. The theory is that though the processing itself and the pattern recognition on which it depends may be complex, CEP ultimately follows rules that can be set by anyone.

In addition to the two BPM product launches, IBM is also expanding its industry-specific SOA Frameworks. Today, it's launching one aimed at customer care for the banking industry, for the first time targeting a specific process in addition to a particular vertical market. IBM's strategy of focusing on particular industries may be bearing fruit, as the company also claims to have increased its market share in SOA from 53% to 64% while doubling overall customer numbers. However, the ongoing consolidation as vendors buy each other means that most competitors can probably boast increased market share, too.

Because SOA is really a platform rather than a single application, IBM's dominance of the market could give it a further advantage if it can persuade its customers to share their insights and applications with each other. To this end, it's launching the SOA Social Network, an online user group accessible via methods including Facebook, Twitter, and Second Life that aims to link together SOA users facing similar challenges in similar organizations.

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