What is an event portal?
An event portal is software that lets IT organizations more effectively create, share and manage event streams and event-driven APIs and applications as part of event-driven architecture.
An event portal, like an API user portal, provides a place for event publishers and event consumers (aka sinks) to connect and collaborate on event usage policy and subscription to event streams.”
Source: Forrester “Use EDA In Your Quest For Modern Applications”, Apr 9 2021, David Mooter
Why do organizations need an event portal?
When architects and developers start to embrace event-driven architecture in pockets around their organization, it’s pretty easy to keep track of who’s doing what so people can reuse each other’s work, and not step on too many toes. But as the number and variety of event brokers grows (Kafka, Solace, etc.) it becomes more difficult to do so because, in the words of leading industry analysts:
Like APIs, events will need policy management and a user portal so that their clients can get one-stop shopping for all means of interfacing with them.”
Source: Forrester “EDA and Design: Five Best Practices”, 10 Mar 2022, David Mooter
While most organizations have basic event processing infrastructure, many don’t have the high-level productivity tooling that helps developers design, develop, test and manage event-centric applications… Nor do they have tools for governing, publishing and managing event-based interfaces.”
Source: Gartner “Top 3 Trends in Application Architecture That Enable Digital Business,” Anne Thomas, Yefim Natis, Mark O’Neill, 28 Oct 2019
Who uses event portals, and why?
In context of event-driven architecture, event portals serve three primary audiences within enterprise IT organizations:
- Architects use event portals to define, discuss and review the events, data definitions and application relationships.
- Developers use event portals to more easily discover, understand and reuse events across applications, lines of business and between external organizations.
- Data scientists use event portals to better understand event-driven data and discover new insights by combining events.
Across all of these users, the ability to see where different versions of applications/events live is a huge advantage of event portals.
How is an event portal different from a schema registry?
A schema register helps you discover the events/messages that exist within your organization and understand the payload schemas so you can A) understand if they include information your application needs, and B) create business logic that extracts those data elements. Without this “schema” payload contract, you do not know the format of the data.
The ability to auto-discover events and let developers and architects review a menu of what’s available is useful, but the purpose of schema registries is primarily to make sure event streams don’t blow up at run time due to schema differences. In order to effectively deploy and manage events and event-driven applications at enterprise-scale, you also need to be able to:
- Govern the behavior and usage of events
- Use a wide variety of payload schemas
- Collaborate on the design and deployment of events
Event portals enable you to design your event-driven applications, events, and schemas in one tool, and automatically generate interconnected network diagrams that your team can go over in design reviews. That way when you deploy your events and event-driven applications, it’s easy to see if the design is in sync with the reality in runtime, and make sure changes are all version controlled and tracked).
How does an event portal help you build event-driven applications?
Much like API portals, event portals provide user interface and automation tools that accelerate and simplify the various processes associated with developing event-driven APIs and applications, and designing the flow of events between systems built according to the principles of event-driven architecture.
Discover Existing Event Streams and Other EDA Assets
The first capability an event portal should have is the ability to automatically analyze/scan a system to discover all existing event brokers, event streams and endpoints, including which event streams are flowing between which endpoints, and put them into an organized, searchable catalog which will be discussed below.
“Favor event brokers with event-catalog-type capabilities that track and expose the different types of events that flow through their topics.”
Source: Gartner “Using Event-Driven Integration with Enterprise Applications”, 1 Feb 2022, Jeffery Skowron, Gary Olliffe
Design, Organize and Reuse EDA Assets
Event flow visualization tools allow you to map out the flow of events across multiple systems so that you can govern the dependencies between the systems.”
Source: Gartner “Essential Patterns for Event-Driven and Streaming Architectures”, 14 Nov 2022, Matt Brasier
An event portal’s catalog and design tools can also help you organize your system into application domains, design each application’s asynchronous pub/sub interface, create events and their topic structure, create and/or import payload schema definitions in a variety of formats.
An event portal’s catalog gives architects and developers a single place where they can all publish and share their work for others to examine and reuse, whether for sake of governance and compliance, or to use in their own event-driven applications.
Some event portals even let you use code generators to generate broker-specific API code for your applications, and export AsyncAPI 2.0.0 compliant definitions of your event streams.
How does an event portal help you manage, monitor and govern event-driven systems?
In addition to the upfront “discovery” mentioned above, an event portal should be able to continuously scan your system to events flowing across all of your event brokers, update the visual representation of the event topic hierarchy being used.
They should also metrics and contextual data so you can understand which events are flowing from and to which endpoints so you can understand data lineage and event utilization. By giving you a deep understanding of such things, an event portal can help you understand the impact associated with making changes to applications, events and schemas so you can avoid issues before going to production.
Incorporate EDA assets into CI/CD and SDLC Tools/Processes
Most event portals provide plugins to integrate with popular development tools so you can import importing existing EDA models, incorporate EDA assets into your CI/CD pipelines, audit and safely make changes or create new revisions, and roll things back to undo accidental changes or deletions.
Treat your topics as APIs and document them using the AsyncAPI specification. Apply the same life cycle management policies to topics as you apply to APIs.”
Source: Gartner, “Essential Patterns for Event-Driven and Streaming Architectures”, November 14, 2022, Matt Brasier