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SOA and eXtreme Transaction Processing (XTP)

Financial institutions are pushing the envelope and require more processing capability

David Chappell's Blog

Across financial services firms we have been seeing a new set of business priorities. There are the "grow the business" priorities that are primarily centered around things like improving customer intimacy and increasing competitive differentiation.  here are also ongoing issues of compliance to regulation and risk mitigation while also keeping an eye towards improving cost efficiency. The thing that hasn't changed is that IT is viewed as the enabler to overcome these challenges. 

 

Financial institutions are pushing the envelope and require more processing capability, but without requiring exponential increase in hardware costs. The growth of extreme transaction processing (XTP) in areas such as fraud detection, risk computation, and stock trade resolution are pushing current solutions such as those based on the mainframe to the limit. These new applications require a new computing paradigm. 

 

We're seeing that SOA coupled with XTP (eXtreme Transaction Processing) is the future for financial services infrastructure as the means to achieve these goals that are often perceived as conflicting.  XTP pertains to a certain class of applications that need to handle large volumes of data that needs to be absorbed, correlated, and acted upon.  Typically the data that is processed by XTP applications comes in the form of large numbers of events, and represents data that changes frequently.  XTP style applications require that transactions and computations occur in memory and do not incur a heavy reliance on conventional back end systems due to the need for extremely fast response rates while still maintaining transactional integrity. 

 

XTP, btw, is a concept that Gartner's Massimo Pezzini has been writing and speaking about as well. In a Gartner research note Gartner Research ID # G00151768 he predicts that over the next 4 years the XTPP (eXtreme Transaction Processing Platform) technology category will evolve as the platform vendors work to embrace XTP and implement infrastructure to support it.  In a recent presentation that Massimo did on the subject, he also stated that there are vendors today that are already implementing important pieces of it. 

 

In addition, the Next Generation Grid Enabled SOA and Not Your MOM's Bus  (a.k.a SOA Grid) subjects that I have been writing about a great deal lately are conceptually something I would like to see lots of commercial vendors and open source projects embrace. These are variations on the XTPP theme.  But we don't have to wait 4 years for it. The SOA Grid is a new approach to thinking about SOA infrastructure, which provides state-aware, continuous availability for service infrastructure, application data, and processing logic. It's based on architecture that combines horizontally scalable, database-independent, middle-tier data caching with intelligent parallelization and an affinity of business logic with cache data. This enables newer, simpler, and more-efficient models for highly scalable SOA-based applications that take full advantage of event-driven architectures.

 

SOA Grid based XTP applications can be built today using what Oracle has already in shipping products. Oracle Coherence coupled with Oracle SOA Suite deliver the industry's first grid-enabled SOA platform for Extreme Transaction Processing.   

 

Typical use cases for using SOA Grid to build next generation applications are in the areas of fraud detection, trade resolution, and risk management calculations away from the mainframe to low cost commodity hardware.

When talking about this concept with folks I often get the question, or the observation, that Complex Event Processing (CEP) is positioned to solve some of the same thorny problems of tracking business exceptions such as what is required for fraud detection. Actually XTP is tied to CEP in that they are both about consuming and correlating large amounts of event data and doing something meaningful with it. However, often the amount of event data that needs to be captured and processed far exceeds the capacity for conventional storage mechanisms. In the words of some of our customers, sometimes "there just isn't a disk that can spin fast enough" for the volumes of data that needs to be processed. For these cases, the Oracle Coherence grid becomes the place where the large volumes of event data are collected, stored, examined for out of the ordinary events, etc. In the financial services area, ATM banking transactions that occur across different geographical areas within a short time window can be considered as out of the ordinary events, or business exceptions. Those business exceptions can be detected by rules that are coded into the application, or the CEP engine can be used more generically to identify patterns with temporal awareness and raise business exceptions appropriately.

 

The tie-ins to SOA are many, but the most obvious one is that once the exceptions are detected, there are actions to be taken. Typical actions to be taken are to send alerts to a BAM dashboard and to invoke a business process or human workflow, such as what can be defined and executed using the Oracle BPEL process manager.
  
 

More Stories By Dave Chappell

David Chappell is vice president and chief technologist for SOA at Oracle Corporation, and is driving the vision for Oracle’s SOA on App Grid initiative.

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