Gartner recently published a report titled The 5 Steps Toward Pervasive Event Driven Architecture to help enterprises assess their readiness for a digital future that will be increasingly event driven. They reference a number of challenges that can hamper their modernization efforts, including:

  1. The inability of current applications to sense and process events
  2. The general lack of expertise in the area of event-driven architecture
  3. The lack of EDA-centric standards and tools for productivity and governance
  4. The lack of tools for testing and exception handling tools

The report says large enterprises are tackling these challenges and adopting event-driven architecture in their own way and time, but there is a pattern to increasingly advanced adoption and outcomes from the use of EDA.  It goes on to lay out a 5-stage “Maturity Model” that maps enterprise preparedness and maturity with event-driven design from “incidental” to “pervasive”.

The research and the maturity model completely resonated.

I’ve been working with enterprises on event-driven architecture adoption for more than a decade, before “event-streaming” and “event brokers” were meaningful terms. In fact, many of the capabilities and competencies Gartner associates with Pervasive EDA have existed within industries like investment banking, telecom, gaming and manufacturing for some time. That’s because these sectors are rife with use cases that demand the reliable real-time distribution of events and information.

But in recent years we’ve definitely felt the ground shift. It feels like EDA is becoming more mainstream.

More and more we’re talking to IT leaders and developers, across a variety of verticals like consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, aviation, and retail, in addition to financial services, who are gaining a good understanding of the technical fundamentals of EDA, and of the business benefits EDA can unlock. And they’re looking for guidance and support.

So here are some notes from the field, which may be useful to you if you’re an enterprise working your way through some version of the EDA maturity model Gartner’s laid out.

Below I’ll describe what we’re hearing and seeing from companies at each stage of maturity, and then I’ll tell you what we’re doing at Solace to help enterprises progress through them all.

Mapping Gartner’s EDA Maturity Model to my Experience

1. Incidental: some isolated use of EDA, mostly supplementary to other activities

This is typical where there are pockets of EDA within the business, but the heart of the enterprise is siloed data – everything is a database, and all communication between apps are point to point connections and synchronous.

With customers in this stage, we spend most of our time educating and less time talking about technology. EDA adoption is a journey and enterprises need to understand the business benefits of EDA (from customer experience, to IT efficiencies and cost savings) before they commit to design for it. We use thought leadership (which will soon be organized and made public in an “Event Academy”) and case studies as the basis to educate our customers and win their commitment for deeper/broader EDA adoption.

2. Brokered: shared dedicated event broker technology is adopted in parts of the organization

At this stage we see that there are parts of the organization that understand and are deploying EDA, and they are experiencing benefits.  However, what we often see is that due to lack of distributed capabilities, and an immature use of cloud, often these implementations are limited to a Line-of-business (LOB) or even to just a few applications. A more complicated situation we run into is where several LOBs are experimenting with EDA, and each is using different vendors and/or open source tools for integration (iPaaS, ESB), messaging, streaming, cloud etc.  This leads to more silos and spaghetti integration scenarios.

When we talk to organizations in these situations, we talk about the concept of an event mesh– an architectural layer that can transcend a variety of environments (on premises, private cloud, public cloud), enabling uniform and event-driven data distribution between them. Event mesh is composed of a network of event brokers.

Solace enables event mesh creation with PubSub+ Event Brokers, which are available as software, appliances and as-a-service, and can be deployed natively on premises, in AWS, GCP and Azure. You can learn more about out event mesh solution here. In theory and practice, an event mesh can help enterprises progress toward the third stage of EDA maturity: centralization.

3. Centralized: strategic use and governance of EDA is promoted by cross-organization IT leadership

This level of maturity in EDA adoption is common in capital markets, and I’m starting to see it in other industries. Companies at this stage have enabled EDA across distributed IT, and now they’re wondering how to scale and optimize it to create business value. Specifically, they’re asking questions like these:

  • How will applications in other organizations/LOBs etc. know what events are available to be consumed outside their jurisdiction?
  • How can we better manage the flow and manage the life-cycle (creation, cataloguing, use and re-use, deprecation etc.) of events within the system?
  • Can we create a centralized view to event interactions in the system, to understand the choreography of events, applications and organizations?

To answer questions like these, we’re bringing to market the first event management platform; to do for events what API management platform do for APIs. An event portal sits on top of the event brokers so developers can define, discover, manage and optimize large numbers of events in an enterprise system. This capability is required for any enterprise to achieve cross organizational EDA where events become the lifeblood of the enterprise.

4. Advanced: integrated with stream analytics, AI and API marketplaces, EDA helps enable new leading-edge solutions

In my interactions with customers and analysts, I really see two trends emerging in the market. One is the drive to make more sense from the data –AI, ML, stream analytics, etc. The other is moving toward an event-driven model where users are notified when an event occurs (pub/sub) versus asking if an event occurred (REST/request-reply etc.). In my experience, “advanced” enterprises have brought these two concepts together. The bottom line is you can’t properly do one without the other. If the goal is to make sense of real-time data, the best way for the data to get to the processing engine is via a stream of events from an event driven back-bone.

At this level we spend time educating customers about how to bring together a global EDA with edge AI, ML and stream analytics capabilities. Often the challenge is how to control events streaming to/from the cloud into cloud native services like Google BEAM or Amazon Kinesis. Solace offers a suite of edge streaming/integration capabilities tailored to challenges like integrating Kafka at the edge, change data capture on databases, legacy integration on mainframe, and seamless integration into AL/ML cloud services. These capabilities are all part of the Solace platform.

5. Pervasive: organization captures a critical mass of ecosystem business events for business-critical continuous intelligence, innovation and scale

The ultimate measure of a successful digital transformation is the ability to derive true business value from the transformative shift the enterprise has made. As we’ve seen with big data, IoT and cloud, unlocking all of the business value from foundational changes in IT can take many years. The good news is that EDA has been around for 3 decades and has been leveraged in industries that have always been real time and have pushed hard to minimize the silo’s preventing events from being available. Even better, as the demand for real-time, responsive and dynamic business operations is becoming pervasive across all industries, emerging tools, techniques and best practices are making EDA adoption easier and less costly to adopt.

Event Horizon

Event Horizon” is a strategic initiative that Solace is leading, with the core mission to  make the adoption of event-driven architecture easier, with a sweeping set of new products, tools, partnerships and community-building efforts. Specifically, the four elements of Event Horizon are:

  1. Launching the market’s first event management platform, as described above
  2. Driving a thought leadership and training program called Event Academy
  3. Forming strategic partnerships with leading enablers of enterprise-scale event-driven systems
  4. Contributing to open source development frameworks like AsyncAPI and Spring Cloud Stream

Event Academy in particular should be helpful to businesses reaching for the “pervasive”, enterprise-wide embrace of EDA. That’s our hope. We want Event Academy to be a place where architects, developers and business leaders can come to get relevant information, tools, tips and best practices on how they can make the most event-driven design. We want it to be a place where people can share their experiences and lean on a community for advice and feedback.

Conclusion

It’s encouraging to see wider interest and adoption of EDA, and to read a Gartner report on EDA that so closely reflects what we’re seeing in the field. Solace has been in this space for 15 years and witnessed significant change in the market over that time. Solace has evolved with the market too. Early on we were a hardware company focused almost exclusively on the sophisticated and mission critical data movement challenges of FSIs. Today we offer a complete cloud native platform for the design, deployment and management of event-driven architecture, with an event broker that is available as an appliance, software and as a service. We work with companies in a variety of industries in addition to financial services, including retail, telecommunications, aviation, gaming, and manufacturing. We’re truly passionate about enabling event-driven architecture, because we believe the adoption of EDA will result in better run businesses, better customer experiences, and faster innovation. No matter where your organization is in its adoption of EDA, we can help, and we’d love to hear from you.

Denis King
Denis King
Chief Operating Officer

As I talk to IT decision makers and developers in industries like consumer-packaged goods, aviation, and retail I’m seeing them recognize the need for event-driven architecture, and becoming more familiar with the concepts, but they need help moving down the path from Incidental maturity to Pervasive. Below I’ll describe what we’re seeing at each stage of maturity, and then I’ll tell you what we’re doing at Solace to help enterprises progress through them all.