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Dashboard: Geek Fun: Event Stream Processing Entertains the Inner Nerd

An expressive command language won't win over the GUI-bound or those who study Fortune 500 market share. But those of us "braniacs on nerd patrol" will get the message.

You have to admire a software vendor that's not afraid to appeal to geeks. An expressive command language, the apotheosis of anti-glitz, won't win over the GUI-bound or those who study Fortune 500 market share. But those of us "braniacs on nerd patrol" will get the message. I did when I checked out demonstration samples from Coral8, which publishes an event-stream processing/complex-event processing engine.

Coral8 handles data feeds from financial markets, RFID sensors and chips, communications networks and other high-volume, low-latency sources. It crunches tens of thousands of messages per second in automated trading, network security, business-activity monitoring, intelligence and other applications that require fast reaction to complex events discerned in the incoming data streams.

Coral8 provides a set of conventional demonstration samples, and it also provides instruction on how to program a Universal Turing Machine in its SQL-based Continuous Computation Language (CCL). Modern notions of computability are based on Alan Turing's "state machine" abstraction of computing processes. If you can simulate a Turing Machine, you're in computing geek heaven.

According to Mark Tsimelzon, Coral8's president and CTO, you can program almost anything you want in CCL. He warns that CCL is not appropriate for every application--lawyers must have insisted on the disclaimer--but Coral8 does offer a variety of real-world applications such as real-time network monitoring and computation of securities-market metrics. So we get both the glitz and the wow! factor for the geek in each of us. --Seth Grimes


Governance Gauge: Treat Technology Like Any Investment

IT projects should be approached as business-change projects enabled by IT, and the business leaders involved should be accountable for achieving predefined goals. These are core principles of Val IT, a framework introduced by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) and based on the group's widely adopted COBIT framework.

"Val IT recommends a portfolio approach to managing IT projects," says Everett Johnson, international president of ITGI. "That means you'll do something about investments that aren't delivering desired results--as you would stocks in your own investment portfolio."

To evaluate before, during and after implementation, Val IT provides strategic, architectural, delivery and business-value analyses of four key questions: are we doing the right things, are we doing them the right way, are we executing the projects well and are we realizing hoped-for benefits?

Val IT is detailed in three publications (downloadable at ITGI.org): a framework setting out principles, a booklet on developing effective business cases and a case study on how Val IT worked at ING. The global financial services firm found that IT could deliver a much higher rate of return than conventional investments, but it instilled a management process whereby projects were terminated early when they weren't headed for success. "That's something that rarely happens at many businesses," says Johnson. --Doug Henschen



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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer