Tibco is releasing a major update to its complex-event processing (CEP) software, not long after its rival IBM made a similar announcement.
At this point, competition can only be healthy, according to Rourke McNamara, Tibco director of product marketing.
"We're really happy that someone else is making a big deal about software of this sort," he said. "We really see it moving now from just a few verticals into more of a mainstream technology."
In general, CEP software searches for patterns and correlations amid the large volumes of electronic transactions or "events" that occur in a company's systems, and triggers responsive actions depending on what is detected. For example, the system could determine that a customer's account had been compromised if the password and address had been changed and a significant sum of money had been withdrawn on the same day.
A report released this week by IDC said the event-driven middleware market, which encompasses CEP as well as the related categories MOM (message-oriented middleware) and BAM (business activity monitoring), grew 27.1 percent in 2007 to US$1.1. billion.
IDC analyst Maureen Fleming, who authored the report, used an analogy to describe this stack of technologies: "MOM can be considered the nervous system that listens for stimuli and informs the brain," she wrote. "CEP is the brain, which contains the short-term memory and executive decision-making ability to send instructions through the nervous system to the appropriate parts of the body. BAM is the eyes of an event-driven infrastructure."
CEP accounted for only $85 million of the overall market in 2007, but grew the fastest, at 79 percent. The event-driven middleware market will grow to $2.7 billion by 2012, with CEP's share rising to more than $800 million, IDC said.
Tibco, which also has MOM and BAM products, now has the largest chunk of the CEP market, with 40.5 percent compared to 20 percent for the next-highest, Progress Software, and 7.1 percent for IBM, according to IDC.
But IBM had 65.1 percent of the overall event-driven middleware market compared to Tibco's 11.4.
Tibco is hoping to add to its share with BusinessEvents 3.0, announced Monday. New features include an interface that provides a simpler way for business users to write the rules that dictate how complex events are tracked.
"We tried to make it look as much like Excel as possible," McNamara said.
Also, users can now run queries on a stream of events continuously; and a distributed cache and rules engine provides additionally scalability -enough to handle roughly 100 times more events than before, according to Tibco.
Pretty much any of the established companies in the CEP space are worth a look, said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink.
But it's often tough to say whether one company's product is truly faster or more scalable than another without knowing, for example, what kind of events are being processed, he added: "Are they all inside a network? Are they distributed far and wide? It it one proprietary system, or spread across a heterogeneous environment?"
Also, a tool might be technically easy to use, but it can't necessarily help users come up with the type of analysis and rules that will result in real business value, he said: "Having a good interface is not enough to help people understand what these events really mean. We're really looking for an evolution in how to understand events."