EDA begins with events

Joe McKendrick asks, “Is EDA the ‘new’ SOA?” First, I’ll agree with Brenda Michelson that EDA is an architecture that can effectively work in conjunction with SOA. While others out there view EDA as part of SOA, I think a better way of viewing it would be that services and events must both be part of your technology architecture.

The point I really want to make however, which expounds on my previous post, is that I simply think event-oriented thinking is the exception, rather than the norm for most businesses. I’m not speaking about events in the technical sense, but rather, in the business sense. What businesses are truly event driven, requiring rapid response to change? Certainly, the airlines do, as evidenced by JetBlue’s recent difficulties. There are some financial trading sectors that must operate in real-time, as well. What about your average retail-focused company, however? Retail thinking seems to be all about service-based thinking. While you may do some cold calls, largely, sales happen when someone walks into the store, goes to the website, or calls on the phone. It’s a service-based approach. They ask, you sell. What are the events that should be monitored that would trigger a change in the business? For companies that are not inherently event-driven, the appropriate use of events are for collecting information and spotting trends. Online shopping can be far more informative for a company than brick-and-mortar shopping because you’ve got the clickstream trail. Even if I don’t buy something, the company knows what I entered in the search box, and what products I looked at. If I walk into Home Depot and don’t purchase anything, is there any record of why I came into the store that day?

Again, how do we begin to go down the direction of EDA? Let’s look at an event-driven system. The October 2006 issue of Business 2.0 had a feature on Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip Technology. The article describes how he turned around Microchip by focusing on commodity processors. As an example, the articles states that Intel’s automotive-chip division was pushing for “a single microprocessor near the engine block to control the vehicle’s subsystems and accessories.” Microchip’s approach was “to sprinkle simpler, cheaper, lower-power chips throughout the vehicle.” Guess what, today’s cars have about 30 micro-controllers.

So, what this says is that the appropriate event-based architecture is to have many, smaller points of control that can emit information about the overall system. This is the way that many systems management products work today- think SNMP. To be appropriate for the business, however, this approach needs to be generating events at the business level. Look at the applications in your enterprise’s portfolio and see how many of them actually publish any sort of data on how it is being used, even if it’s not in real time. We need to begin instrumenting our systems and exposing this information for other purposes. Most applications are like the checkout counter at Home Depot. If I buy something, it records it. If I don’t buy something and just exit the store, what valuable information has been missed that could improve things the next time I visit?

I’d love to see events become more mainstream, and I fully believe it will happen. I certainly won’t argue that event-driven systems can be more loosely coupled, however, I’ll also add that the events we’re talking about then are not necessarily the same thing as business events. Many of those things will never be exposed outside of IT, nor should they be. It’s the proper application of business events that will drive companies opening up their wallets to purchase new infrastructure built around that concept.

2 Responses to “EDA begins with events”

  • […] Joe McKendrick quoted a previous blog entry of mine, but he prefaced my quotes with the statement that I was “questioning the value of EDA to many businesses.” One of things that any speaker/author has to always deal with is the chance that the message we hope comes out doesn’t, and I think this is one of those cases. So, in the event that others are feeling that I’m questioning the value, I thought I’d clarify my stance. I am a huge fan of events and EDA. Events can be very powerful, but just as there has been lots of discussions around the difference between SOA and ABOS- a bunch of services, the same holds true for EDA. […]

  • […] types of releases. Why? In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of events, such as this post. One of the challenges, however, is that I don’t really feel that there are good sources of […]

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