In my diploma thesis I tried to integrate a Complex Event Processing (CEP) System namely Esper with a Workflow Mangement System. Generally this is no technical problem. But there are some fundamental problems with current CEP systems. Especially with modeling CEP rules.

CEP is a very powerful paradigm to process high-speed, high-volume data. As Gartner is predicting with “The transition in application architectures, which began with service-oriented architecture several years ago, continues to accelerate, as SOA and Web architecture mature, event-driven systems become more common and cloud architectures begin to appear”, the amount of such high-speed, high-volume data will increase.

I am of the opinion that CEP has a very high potential to enhance workflow management (WfM). Many companies neither have highly automated nor well specified processes. In future more and more companies will make effort to well define and increase the level of automation of their processes. But meanwhile more and more sensors and subsystems that publish state-messages and other fine-granular information in the form of events become part of the companies software-landscapes. Processes will increasingly need to use this event-like data to (automatically) determine which action to take. Workflow Management Systems (WfMS) are not made for processing a huge amount of events. CEP systems are made especially to achieve this.

I think CEP can only be successful and unfold its whole potential if it is well integrated with WfM. CEP will not be successful as isolated system. But both together CEP and WfM form a very powerful integration base for company-wide event integration. A system combining WfM and CEP is able to realize something like an SOA for asynchronous event-like data.

But there is one important point to improve before CEP can be well used in conjunction with WfMSs. Modeling and creation of CEP rules/patterns is too complex. As example I studied Esper as a CEP platform that is very compelling. The Esper Processing Language (EPL) is very powerful but it is also very complex and it is hard to model situations (I call Complex Events, situations, if they have a meaning in a higher-level way).

Finally I think CEP and a combination of CEP/WFMS will only be successful if theres is a way of modeling situations, Events or Rules in such an easy way as BPMN or BPEL in case of Business Processes.

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