#BRF Difference between CEP and Business Rules

Mike Gualtieri of Forrester is leading the Breakfast with the Analysts session at the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas.

Confusion between Complex Event Processing and Business Rules

  • Many solutions can be implemented with both approaches

CEP is a software infrastructure that can detect patterns of events from disparate live data sources.

Business Rules

  • Input: Single Payload of Data
  • Conditional logic expressed using multiple metaphors
  • Algorithm: Inferencing, sequential and extended sequential algorithms
  • Output: Data payload or external call


  • Input: Myriad of data sources all at once
  • Patterns and conditional logic using query or scripting language
  • Algorithms: Stateful pattern detection algorithms
  • Output: Myriad outputs or external call

CEP is unique because of temporal pattern detection… (Note: JRules and Drools actually support this too, but…)

Paul Vincent piped in to say that CEP engines are stateful and can be persisted and in case of failure, recovery is supported as opposed to rules engines which are stateless. (Note: Now this is where the main difference might lie.)

CEP Shines at 3 main things:

  • Detecting patterns and informing
    • Real-time BI
  • Detecting and reacting
    • Real-time trading
  • Event processing architecture
    • Business Process Orchestration

Choose Business Rules if:

  • No need for event correlation (time based)
  • Business Users need to author and maintain rules
    • CEP tools are not as evolved as BR tools
  • Note: I’m adding stateless (i.e. no need for stateful and recovery)

CEP and Business Rules can work together and complement each other.

He mentioned that he thinks that an Event Processing Architecture (EPA) is emerging from the SOA architecture.

Combined CEP and BR are emerging

  • CEP vendors can “poach” the Business Rules market
  • Business Rules Vendors can respond by adding CEP functionality
  • Business Rules and CEP is seeping into other products

His prediction: The future of business rules is CEP. He thinks that BPM is separate and will stay separate.

Good session, I’m not sure I agree with some of the information he presented, for example

  • The fact that CEP can process multiple streams stems from integration technologies which you can leverage around Business Rules Engines
  • He missed the stateful versus stateless brought up by Paul Vincent (which again in most cases stems from integration technologies)

but the ideas he presented were interesting and his prediction of seeing more convergence between those technologies makes sense.

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  1. Pingback: Business Rules Forum 2009 – Day 2 #brf — JT on EDM

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