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ObjectStore Adding Event-Driven Tools

Through its parent's acquisition of real-time application provider Apama, RFID solutions provider ObjectStore is developing software to integrate event-driven processing with RFID data management.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 18, 2005Bedford, Mass.-based Progress Software Corp. (PSC), a business application software developer, acquired the privately held Apama, a provider of event-stream processing technology, for a purchase price of approximately $25 million. Event-stream processing technology is Apama's moniker for its software products, which are database systems designed to react to business events. While Apama software products are used most widely in the financial services industry, for real-time trading and market analysis applications, Progress Software wants to see Apama's event-stream processing software used in conjunction with RFID middleware systems, as a platform on which to process RFID data (where an "event" is a RFID tag read).

Progress Software owns ObjectStore, a company that develops data management tools for users in a range of industries, including retail and manufacturing (and sells an RFID middleware product called RFID Accelerator). Through the acquisition, Apama is now part of ObjectStore and Apama's event-stream processing technology is being integrated into the RFID Accelerator platform.

Mark Palmer
"There is a trend toward advancing the capacity of managers of RFID applications to use streaming event data to implement intelligent, real-time RFID applications," says Mark Palmer, ObjectStore's vice president of event processing.

Streaming event data refers to the flow of data generated by an event, such as a read of an RFID tag. According to Palmer, relational databases such as SQL are designed to manage data by handling information relating to what has happened in the past. Conversely, event-driven databases, on which Apama's software is built, work with events as they happen or before they happen. They do this by establishing parameters for the database to query not static, predictable sets of data, but dynamic, unpredictable sets of data. For example, an event-driven database could be set to instruct an RFID reader to search for tags on a shipment from company X coming through dock door A within the next 30 minutes. When the shipment comes, the event-driven database could send a message to a worker to retrieve the shipment. A relational database would ask the reader how many tags from company X came through dock door A during the past 30 minutes, or days, or months.

In addition to integrating Apama's event-stream processing technology into ObjectStore's RFID Accelerator middleware, the company will also offer the event-processing software as a standalone product that any end user with a middleware layer compliant with EPCglobal's emerging application-layer events (ALE) specification will be able to use. (EPCglobal is expected to ratify the ALE specification as a standard sometime soon.) The company plans to finish adding streaming-event capabilities to RFID Accelerator within the next three months, but it does not yet have a timeline for the release of the standalone product, nor has it released any pricing information for either product.

"What we're doing is advancing a new class of software that lets users express conditions that are important in the future and be proactively notified when those conditions are met," says Palmer.

Palmer says ObjectStore has been playing a role in the development of the EPCglobal Network by contributing to the ALE and EPC-IS working groups. On Nov. 17-18, at ObjectStore's development center in Nashua, N.H., the company hosted an ALE interoperability event, attended a number of ALE software vendors, to help ensure that the ALE specification actually works. Palmer says the results of these tests were positive.
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