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J2EE Journal: Article

Java Product Review — Oracle EDA Suite

Supporting events without complex custom coding

Oracle Business Activity Monitoring
Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) enables companies to define and monitor events and event patterns that occur throughout their organization. Oracle BAM captures information from custom and packaged applications; business processes and workflows; databases; messaging systems such as JMS, AQ, MQ; and other systems to collect data in real time. Oracle BAM is also fully integrated with Oracle BPEL Process Manager to collect process information in real time. (Figure 2 shows the diverse nature of events supported by Oracle BAM.)

The Oracle BAM architecture delivers requested critical information within seconds of an event or change in status. Because the primary source of data is messages, Oracle BAM can update reports and generate alerts at speeds that traditional architectures can't match. Oracle BAM can accept tens of thousands of updates per second into a memory-based persistent cache that is at the center of the Oracle BAM architecture.

Users can view dashboards and reports showing critical business measures and key performance indicators (KPIs) that update in real time, and can then drill down into the detailed information underlying them. Dashboards automatically update as new events occur. Only events that effect changes to the dashboard display are sent across the network, and a connection is left open from the dashboard to the Oracle BAM server to receive these updates, removing the need for time-consuming polling and reducing server load.

Oracle BAM allows business users to be alerted when business conditions are out of band. Alerts can be delivered on a variety of devices. Alerts are fully actionable, and can invoke external programs or Web services to change the underlying business operation in real time. Users can take any necessary corrective action on monitored events - for example, launching a business process in Oracle BPEL Process Manager - right from the dashboard.

Oracle Sensor Edge Server
Oracle Sensor Edge Server provides the link to the physical world, enabling organizations to collect and manage data from sensors placed strategically around the enterprise, and observe what is happening in the world outside of IT. Oracle Sensor Edge Server captures data from any sensors, RFID equipment, or other external devices and publishes it to enterprise applications, while also relaying instructions to response devices such as light stacks, printers, and other material handling equipment. The captured data is normalized to ensure consistency between sensors, and then filtered to prevent "event flooding" by reducing the amount of data that needs to be handled by the network and applications. The data can then be routed to the appropriate applications through Oracle ESB, or visualized in the Oracle BAM dashboard.

Business Scenario: Financial Services Company
To fully assess the capabilities of Oracle EDA Suite, it's helpful to model a real-world scenario that captures a typical business process. This scenario is a high-volume case within the increasingly competitive market of financial services loan brokering. The organization is an intermediate broker that takes loan requests from multiple sources and sells the requests to suitable lenders with varied and flexible commission structures. It is a start-up company that operates nationally, with aggressive growth plans within its domestic U.K. market and in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. Being new to the industry, with tight reins on budget, the company must closely monitor the cost of acquiring leads in relation to the revenue generated by those leads. With limited funds for marketing, the company must utilize all resources to full capacity.

The company used Oracle EDA Suite as the foundation of its brokering system to quickly gain a foothold in the market and achieve its goal of being the first broker to offer customers a deal, thus removing them from the market. By using Oracle Enterprise Messaging Service (OEMS), the company receives credit leads from a large number of diverse sources. The initial lead generation was done through a number of Websites that each target a different segment of the market. The Websites produce XML messages that are transported to the brokering system via an in-memory JMS implementation.

OEMS validates and authenticates the data before placing the messages on the Oracle Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to securely route the loan applications in different formats to the most suitable lenders, dependent on rules configured in Oracle Business Rules. Together, OEMS and Oracle ESB not only provide seamless integration to lenders who use other messaging systems, such as WebSphere or Sonic ESB, but also allow persistence of application data while manual underwriting is performed by lenders who do not have automated systems in place.

Oracle ESB and OEMS give the broker the necessary transaction support to handle exceptions with third-party systems, and Oracle BAM offers underwriters visibility into the state of any application. Oracle BAM gives the broker a complete view of the state of operations through role-based dashboards that combine real-time lead information with current workload data and data on the current and historical performance of lenders to ensure that the business rules used by Oracle ESB to route applications are accurate and efficient, and the best service is provided to customers and lenders. (Figure 3 shows an Oracle BAM dashboard used to monitor lead generation.)

To support leads from nonautomated or partially automated sources, OEMS can receive bulk files of turndowns from other lenders in the form of e-mails or direct communications. In addition, individually sourced messages from partner systems are accepted by OEMS. This receipt of heterogeneous messages from diverse brokers gives the start-up company a great advantage: it can rapidly scale up in lead volume, and quickly sign up a large number of partner brokers and lenders, meeting their technology requirements rather than enforcing an integration protocol.

The complex event processing (CEP) within Oracle BAM correlates the applications received from partners with messages from elsewhere in the business that record events such as SLA warnings from low-performing lenders, opportunity thresholds with efficient lenders, or activity triggered from market analysis. The CEP engine allows the broker to work with flexible commission models, leading to preferred lending rates and faster acceptance of leads. The broker is anticipating making even more investment in the Oracle CEP engine when it becomes a standalone product with a business front end: the marketing department will utilize the tool to filter, correlate, and aggregate application events to identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities such as upgrading the loan or transporting events to partners focused on offering mobile phone contracts or car loans.

One of the main sources of leads for the company is links, sponsored by Website search engines that present qualified traffic. Each day the broker goes through an auction process to buy search engine keywords such as "Low APR" or "Debt Consolidation." Search engine marketing is a very effective and efficient way of increasing revenue for the broker: it is more adaptable, scalable, and responsive than traditional advertising, giving the broker the ability to turn it off, up, or down in real time.

However, in the consumer credit business, brokers run the risk of a lot of browsing traffic but few buyers. Because the cost of keywords is click-based, it is essential that the volume and benefit of leads from this channel be closely monitored. Oracle BAM analyzes the volume and cost effectiveness of these clicks, tying the clicks back to account performance to determine the value of the advertisements. Thresholds are set up to cancel bad keywords immediately and transfer the marketing budget to other keywords.

Oracle BAM correlates the events streamed from these search engine clicks with the performance of the generated leads, enabling the broker to optimize its search engine marketing campaigns in real time, and giving it confidence to invest valuable budget in this lucrative but risky method of lead generation. The advertising can be as responsive to the brokers' events as required: when Oracle BAM shows that current performance is low, the search engine marketing can be scaled up, resulting in an immediate response.

The scalability and comprehensive support of messaging systems within Oracle EDA Suite has given this start-up broker the infrastructure required to achieve its goals of being the number one lead generator in its territory and expanding globally in its vertical market. Just as important, it allows the broker to handle more than just loan applications, and become the central hub as a data broker across many markets without any technology barriers.

Oracle EDA Suite has several key benefits. First, all the products within the family have been engineered to work together, which provides out-of-the-box integration benefits. Implementation times are faster, which in turn means quicker time-to-business benefit. Companies do not have to spend time setting the environment up, but can get straight down to business, concentrating on satisfying their business objectives instead of sorting out the plumbing.

Second, Oracle Fusion Middleware, because it is based on industry standards, is highly interoperable. Products in the family can work with third-party middleware products and databases, as well as across heterogeneous business applications. This is particularly important to a consultancy company that has to work with what organizations already own - applications, technology, and infrastructure from any vendor. With Oracle EDA Suite, there's no need for the client to rip out and replace what is currently there and already working. It can leverage its previous technology investments, thus significantly reducing the cost and speed of implementation while also minimizing disruption and ultimately business risk.

Oracle EDA Suite and Oracle SOA Suite are both components of Oracle's next generation of service-oriented architecture that defines how events and services are linked together to deliver a flexible and responsive IT infrastructure. We agree that event processing is an emerging requirement that will increasingly find its way into more and more enterprise applications. Without the interoperability with applications provided by event-driven SOA, an EDA solution will be compromised, as the solution can only be as good as the events generated from the organization's business applications and Web services.

Oracle EDA Suite provides organizations with all the key building blocks they need to event-enable their IT infrastructure, and we strongly recommend the suite to organizations considering such a solution. However, Oracle's most compelling proposition is the ability to deploy Oracle EDA Suite in conjunction with Oracle SOA Suite to satisfy both event-driven and service-oriented infrastructure requirements in a single integrated platform.

We rated Oracle EDA Suite on the criteria (see Table 1), with assessment from architects, developers, and administrators.

More Stories By Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson has spent more than 12 years working with independent software vendors and systems integrators since graduating from Birmingham University, UK, with a BSC honors degree in Mathematics. Mark joined GW in 1998 he is now a Senior Solutions Architect responsible for strategic customers.

More Stories By Mark Waite

Mark Waite is the co-founder of Griffiths Waite, a UK consultancy specializing in the delivery of enterprise architectures and composite applications. He has 20 years IT experience and holds a BSC honors degree in Computing Information Systems. He is currently responsible for the strategic direction of the company’s enterprise applications practice.

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Most Recent Comments
emil300 04/27/09 04:11:00 PM EDT

An event-driven architecture (EDA) reflects the real world in which businesses operate. The real world is constantly changing, chaotic, and unpredictable. An EDA enables organizations to make sense out of all the events occurring within their business, and to detect anomalous business situations by drawing together a number of indirectly related or independent events. Furthermore, EDA builds decision-making capabilities directly into business processes by using analytical insights to drive decisions. EDA offers organizations the ability to track events in real time, thus gaining an early awareness of issues, improving productivity, and reducing manual intervention and errors. Emil, anunturi

ejm 11/17/08 10:40:06 AM EST

Great write up. I want to go to school to study more in this field. I got to hit up my bank and ask for
cash advance option to pay up my enrollment fees.

JDJ News Desk 12/04/06 09:17:28 AM EST

An event-driven architecture (EDA) reflects the real world in which businesses operate. The real world is constantly changing, chaotic, and unpredictable. An EDA enables organizations to make sense out of all the events occurring within their business, and to detect anomalous business situations by drawing together a number of indirectly related or independent events. Furthermore, EDA builds decision-making capabilities directly into business processes by using analytical insights to drive decisions. EDA offers organizations the ability to track events in real time, thus gaining an early awareness of issues, improving productivity, and reducing manual intervention and errors.