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10/3/2008
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CEP: A Technology For These Uncertain Times

Complex event processing software started in financial markets, but more companies are considering it to make sense of soaring data volumes.

Although it's used mainly in financial markets, complex event processing (CEP) technology looks poised to gain traction more widely, in areas such as fraud detection and performance monitoring.

The driver behind CEP is companies trying to gain an edge in analyzing skyrocketing volumes of customer data in a more automated way. In nine months, the IT staff of student loan provider Sallie Mae built 35 fraud-detection patterns that its CEP system, from Coral8, now monitors, says Jo Lee Hayes, VP of enterprise technologies. Sallie Mae also built modules to spot when a loan application slows, prompting the company to reach out to the customer to ensure that a loan is being processed correctly.

Of course, with several Wall Street banks in tatters after miscalculating the risks they faced, a reference from the financial services industry might raise eyebrows. But IDC predicts 50% annual growth for CEP, from a $150 million market today. Once available only to big financial institutions and government agencies that could afford custom development projects, real-time data analysis is reaching more companies with the emergence of off-the-shelf CEP products from vendors such as Aleri, Coral8, Progress Apama, and StreamBase, which made their names in capital markets.

Major SOA and middleware vendors such as IBM (which recently acquired CEP vendor AptSoft), Oracle (through its purchase of BEA), and Tibco are beefing up their CEP offerings, and there are open source projects including NEsper for .Net and Esper. InformationWeek will publish a series of Rolling Reviews of CEP products over the coming months.

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