BEA joins race to event-driven SOA

Is the world ready for event-driven SOA? BEA and Oracle say yes

Is EDA (event-driven architecture) the next frontier of SOA? BEA believes it is. Just a couple of weeks back, Oracle also said the future of SOA is EDA. The vision is that a SOA , though loosely coupled, should be able to respond to events in real time (or at least close to real time).

In BEA's case, the vendor just announced products (WebLogic Event Server, WebLogic Realtime 2.0) that help Java applications -- which underpin many SOA efforts -- run a lot closer to real-time. Up until now, it took C/C++ and other languages to achieve real-time computing. I recently had the opportunity to speak with some BEA folks about the implications of their recent announcements around the EDA space.

Why care about EDA? Why is it such a big deal? Guy Churchward, vice president and general manager of WebLogic Products, put it this way: "If you peel away the way in which businesses work, they're really trying to take the data that they have and turn it into knowledge for them to make decisions on. And the faster that they can get that data into knowledge, the more they can respond to market changes, competitive pressures, or business agility that allows them to be better and more successful."

Guy calls this capability EDSOA, or "event-driven SOA." And it's all about the data.

Databases simply aren't designed to handle all the new data that's flowing through systems these days, from sources such as RFID tags and applications, explains Gwen Durrill, unit executive of BEA's WebLogic Time and Event Driven Products division. "EDA means being able to get rid of the data that you don't need because there's so much of it, and also act on it immediately."

Gwen explains how EDSOA works in a business setting: A telecom company, for example, may have deployed an SOA "so that they can provide more flexible services to sign customers up and fulfill orders. They're offering a free cellphone as part of that enticement to switch over."

But what if the promotion works too well? Then demand exceeds the supply of promotional cellphones. The calls keep coming, and "all the existing SOA system knows to do is place another cell phone order when someone signs up. In an event-driven SOA, as soon as things start running low, the back-end inventory system would generate an event, and you could act on that immediately. So you can send notification to the salespeople to give away another item instead."

The business value boils down to a simple fact: "A potential customer could get very unhappy if they're expecting their cellphone to come, then they receive a notice a day later saying it's back ordered," Gwen explained. "They won't switch to the telecom provider, assuming if they can't even handle this offer, they can't handle any other business."