Event-driven architecture poised for wide adoption

Four years from now, IT managers will adopt an event-driven architecture (EDA) for the sort of complex event processing attempted...

Four years from now, IT managers will adopt an event-driven architecture (EDA) for the sort of complex event processing attempted only by sophisticated developers, a Gartner analyst has predicted.

Roy Schulte made his prediction at Gartner's Web Services and Application Conference last week, even though another Gartner analyst estimated that two-thirds of IT departments have yet to take up the service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach.

Fortunately, the EDA approach is complementary to SOA, which forward-thinking IT shops are starting to employ in greater numbers as they forge ahead with web services. Taking an SOA-based approach, developers build an application by assembling "services," or software components that define reusable business functions.

But Schulte said connecting services occurs in a linear, predictable sequence, whereas an event-driven architecture allows for multiple, less predictable, asynchronous events to happen in parallel and trigger a single action.

Simple event-driven processing has been in common use for at least 10 years with technology such as IBM's or Tibco Software's message-oriented middleware and, in the past few years, message-driven Enterprise JavaBeans.

But Schulte predicted that complex event processing (CEP) will start to become mainstream in 2007, as application developers and systems and business analysts strive to do more business in real time. Paving the way for the trend will be faster networks, the arrival of general-purpose event management software tools and the emergence of standards for event processing beginning in 2005, he said.

Hints that CEP will become mainstream include Tibco's acquisition of Praja and IBM's work on event-broker technology, Schulte claimed. "It's obviously the first step for IBM, and the next step will be complex event processing."

To prepare for EDA, Schulte advised companies to look at their application requirements to see if there are places where they could do simple event processing instead of SOA to design part of an application. Leading-edge companies should also look to implement complex event processing for applications that bring a competitive advantage.

Meanwhile, Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer estimated that no more than 30% of IT shops are doing SOA-based development by design, and among that group, less than half are doing it consistently well. But he predicted that 85% will be building applications using SOA concepts five years from now.

The SOA concept is not new, but SOA has become a buzzword in the realm of web services. Services are exposed to one another through standards-based interfaces, and SOAP is used to send XML-based messages between them. Because components are loosely coupled, developers can easily swap them out and, in theory, gain the benefit of code reuse.

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