The notion of event processing agents (EPAs) is quickly becoming a topic that more and more organizations are considering. We’ve been building systems that employ event processing without agents for quite some time. So, why agents and why now?
One of the primary reasons is that we are no longer in the era of mainframe computing, when both companies and applications were typically command-and-control oriented and organized in vertical silos. With the combination of the Internet, fiber optics, and PCs, the business and technology playing field has been flattened. No longer primarily top down, it has changed to more side by side-as individuals, small groups, and organizations interact around the world. In other words, the events around us are based on complex web of activity that is less command and control and more horizontal connecting, collaborating, and competing.
When the events among requesters and providers are few and change is not an issue, agents are not needed and conventional IT techniques can be employed. However, when the links require complex, dynamic binding and are subject to rapid change, agent-based approaches should be considered. Prior to the demand for global collaboration, we developed a centralized controller to ensure that all interactions would be appropriately managed. Now, this is no longer possible. The world is too big and a central bottleneck would paralyze the effort. As a result, the access techniques now require a more horizontal style of interaction-rather than one that is centrally administered.
Agent technology is a primary enabler to support this new direction. In fact, without agent technology, our current technology will not scale to support the ever-increasing global interaction. More importantly, it will enable us to create and support a whole class of IT applications and approaches that we previously could not have developed-this especially includes complex event processing.
In the next installment, I will address the question: “What is the relationship between agents and events?”