BI and CEP: Sybase and Aleri postscript

OK, we’ve gotten off the horn with Sybase. It’s obvious that for now, the deal simply formalizes the partnership that both companies (actually all three if you also count Coral8) already had in place around Sybase’s RAP platform. On one hand, Sybase has little work to do because the products in question already integrate with its offerings, but still has lots of work cut out in rationalizing the Aleri stack. At this point, Sybase has not yet thought about the broader synergies with its BI offerings, but as we state below, it is not simply about integrating products. It is about positioning BI as a broader portfolio that ranges from static, historical trend analysis to operational intelligence and feed-forward predictive analytics. You may not use the same tools or techniques, but in each case you are looking to synthesize insight based on transforming data (as opposed to querying databases).

But it also brings back the debate over whether CEP and BI are converging or different creatures. A few months ago, Streambase CTO Richard Tibbets responded to a Twitter discussion that involved us, stating that CEP and BI are different paradigms: BI infers the need for a human to make decisions, whereas CEP is about real-time data transformation. Our contention is that it’s about ends, not the means. So, true, CEP is not simply fast BI. It’s a different form, which we’d characterize as adaptive closed-loop intelligence that is event-driven. Your systems analyze torrents of data to make discoveries, and based on those discoveries, identify a set of events and apply policies to act on them. In turn you can apply good old-fashioned BI to determine if your system is looking for the right events or applying the right policies. Or you can use parsing of those streams to predict what will happen. That’s still BI because the action comes on analyzing and transforming data, but it’s not your father’s BI.