Friday, February 05, 2010

Sybase-Aleri deal plays to the advantage of remaining pure-play CEP vendors

I remember writing about the burgeoning Complex Event Processing (CEP) market two or three years ago when their were a handful of vendors; StreamBase, Coral8, Aleri, Progress Apama,; all vying for market share and using CEP to service different parts of the market. Some like Progress Apama were focused on CEP and its application in the algo trading space, while Aleri was more focused on the liquidity management side.

With this week's announcement that Sybase had finalised an asset purchase agreement with Aleri, the CEP pure-play market has virtually shrunk overnight. Sybase was already using Coral8's CEP in its real-time analytics or RAP platform and had a reseller agreement with Coral8.

However, Coral8 was bought by Aleri back in 2008 giving Aleri essentially three CEP products, its own, Coral8's and OHIO, the project name for its attempt to integrate Coral8 with Aleri's CEP engine. Meanwhile since 2008, Sybase had a reseller agreement  to offer the Coral8 engine and portal as a general purpose CEP platform "in conjunction with any Sybase solution globally".

There is a lot of speculation on the web about why Aleri sold up to Sybase, including an article on Wall Street & Technology speculating that maybe Aleri was having financial difficulties. However,   the truth may lie somewhere in the complicated morass of reseller agreements and the fact that having acquired Coral8, Aleri was also planning to sell its technology, which Sybase was also reselling.

The official line from Sybase this week is that the Aleri acquisition will position it as a "clear market leader in CEP" and help strengthen its RAP platform with the addition of Aleri's Liquidity Risk Management and Liquidity Management Suite.

However, some commentators I spoke to say that Sybase is unlikely to be a serious contender in the CEP space and that under Sybase's stewardship the Aleri platform could wane, which may be a problem for existing customers.

Furthermore the so-called OHIO project for merging Coral8 CEP with Aleri CEP also seems unlikely to continue. Hence why StreamBase is rubbing its hands together coming out with the statement that customers of Aleri-Coral8 or Sybase-RAP can trade-in their products and move over to its platform.

Richard Tibbetts, CTO at StreamBase, said, “It’s unlikely that Sybase will maintain four separate products.Aleri had three separate CEP product initiatives; Coral8, Aleri, plus OHIO. Sybase’s CEP product RAP is yet a fourth code base. As a result, we’ve been approached by customers of all these products and asked to provide migration strategies to StreamBase."

It seems that the  true winners out of this deal in the CEP pure-play space are likely to be StreamBase and Progress Apama. It appears that Sybase sees CEP not as the be-all and end-all on its own, but as part of an integrated offering that supports analytics and data repositories. To that extent it is unlikely to go head-to-head with StreamBase and Progress Apama on the CEP piece.


Merv said...

In its briefings for analysts, Sybase is sayoing htat it's attempting to reatin tech staff and continue the roadmap Aleri had. So we'll have to see if they execute, but their ability to integrate technology has been generally good over the past few years. And it's not clear "pure CEP" is a mainstream growth play - integrating it with data at rest drives a lot of use cases, and Sybase is betting it can both ride and drive growth there.

Merv Adrian

James Smedberg said...

It's true that this deal will help the remainding stand-alone CEP companies, but I think all the CEP vendors have a problem. They need a great, interactive, visual user interface. These are very potent systems but to make the most of them, you need to spend too much time making them usable. It will be great when they start incorporating some sort of interactive visualization tools into the engines to enhance usability.

FinancialTech Insider said...

Hi James, I believe that is what TIBCO Spotfire is trying to do in terms of using different forms of data visualization techniques to display business intelligence. See my most recent post