Real-time computing spreading beyond Wall Street

Executive and IT management have long sought the holy grail of so-called real-time computing -- an instant (or almost instant) response to a request for any corporate data. Early real-time efforts centered around the military and aerospace industries. The model then spread to Wall Street, where the traditional commercial early adopter turned to complex publish-and-subscribe middleware to give traders near real-time access to data.

Today, the convergence of several newer technologies may bring the possibilities of real-time computing to more traditional industries. As more and more organizations utilize middleware and Enterprise Application In-tegration (EAI) technologies to link previously standalone applications, while at the same time refining and automating business processes, the opportunity to implement "almost" real-time capabilities increases substantially.

In this month's Cover Story, "The real-time enterprise," Managing Editor Jack Vaughan examines commercial real-time systems (or depending on who's speaking, zero-latency enterprise event-driven computing, just-in- time computing or straight-through processing).

To date, as Vaughan notes, many different technologies have been utilized by organizations implementing significant real-time capabilities. The technologies can include data transformation software, publish-and-subscribe middleware and multiple messaging systems. Some even incorporate online analytical systems.

As year 2000 projects wind down, and development dollars become available, IT organizations should start looking closely at ways to implement real-time systems, which Gartner Group Analyst Roy Schulte says "is one of the most important things you'll be seeing over the next five to 10 years." The technologies are quickly maturing, and the work of most anyone in a corporation can be helped with instant access to the right data. This story can help you get started on a plan.

Meanwhile, Julie Hahnke, president of management consultancy IDTech, shows how IT managers can creatively overcome the negative cost-benefit questions faced by champions of data warehousing ("Data for dollars: Reselling warehouse assets"). The solution: Create a new business unit to package and resell warehouse data.

Hahnke tells how Owens & Minor Inc. has opened its data warehouse -- for a fee -- to customers and suppliers. She explains how managers can determine whether such a system is right for their firm, and, if so, how to implement one.

Best Regards,
Michael W. Bucken

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.