Real Time (noun) vs. Real-Time (adjective)
So there seems to be a lot of talk/discussion about Real-Time and how important it is for incorporating within a business scenario. Let’s take a minute and figure out what Real-Time means. This is how Gartner defines Real Time: The description for an operating system that responds to an external event within a short and predictable Time frame. Unlike a batch or Time-sharing operating system, a real-Time operating system provides services or control to independent ongoing physical processes. It typically has interrupt capabilities (so that a less important task can be put aside) and a priority-scheduling management scheme. This is how I define Real Time: ‘if you are reading this, it is not Real Time. If you are typing this, it is Real Time.’ Basically, Real Time is defined by the latency between when an actual event happens and when that same event is realized. We live in Real Time, when I do something it happens and I realize it all in the same moment of time. So now we need to determine the amount of latency we can afford when it comes to our business scenarios/processes. In other words, we can define our own Real Time as it fits our needs. If you Business is Financial Services, your latency threshold may be much shorter then another Industry which can absorb more latency within their response to a Real Time event. Why am I even discussing this? Well, it has to do with how best to manage your infrastructure to prepare for Real-Time eventing. SAP offers many solutions to provide this capability. HANA has the capability to access data with blinding speed. SAP Sybase Event Streaming Processor has the ability to stream events immediately for analysis and actions. SAP Operational Process Intelligence powered by SAP HANA, offers the ability to gain immediate insight into processes as they are running to determine an appropriate course of action to remediate a possible issue and to gain competitive advantage. In short, Real Time is relative, we need to
define our acceptable degree of latency that best suits our needs to achieve our Business objectives.
Let’s explore latency for a minute.
In order to fully understand the importance of latency, you need to understand what events are happening that you are not aware of, or at least your processes are not aware of, and how they might impact those processes. Then there are the events that you are aware of and are impacting your business, but you are not capturing them. So, latency is your acceptable amount of time that has passed from which an event occurred, that you are able to realize
before it impacts your business. This impact can be either a negative one or a competitive advantage. Next then, you must be able to identify which
business processes are most critical and will gain the most advantage with implementing a low latency event capture. Once you have identified your critical business processes, the latency impact and the latency interval, you then can determine the gain in competitive
advantage. One other factor that I briefly mentioned just a bit earlier, are the events themselves. Which events should be captured? What about events that are seemingly non-relevant?
Continuous Operations requires knowledge of what is in progress, but depends also on knowing relevant history and having predictions about the future. The tools and data sets used for each of the temporal models may be different. Eventually, they must converge into an integrated set of tools to improve efficiency in managing the business. Historical data is needed to better understand if the current state is normal and to find new patterns. The in-progress state if fleeting, but opportunities and risks can be detected before events are put into the archives. The predictive state may look out near and/or long term, estimating what will happen. Deviation from the prediction is an important skill for maintaining operational systems. When the environment changes, the predictions must be recalculated. It is challenging to build applications that integrate the three temporal views. Some business applications embed the three approaches to an end-to-end process view.
In the end, Real-Time is what you define it to be as it pertains to your critical business processes.