How to think about event-driven architecture and integration

June 23, 2020 Derrick Harris

Event-driven architecture and the idea of data streams are becoming more widely understood and accepted, but there's less discussion about event-driven integration. It's a more complex topic, involving the facilitation of real-time communication among different systems and even different companies—just the type of thing we might expect in today's hyperconnected world.

In this episode of the Cloud Native in 15 Minutes podcast, VMware's James Urquhart shares his view on event-driven integration (and also event-driven architecture), including why it matters, where it could be useful, and the technologies that can underpin it. He also discusses how reorganizing IT teams around modern platform principles can help organizations make the most of an event-driven world.

Here are a few quotes, and an audio excerpt, where Urquhart goes into more detail on these topics. But you'll want to listen to the whole episode to get the whole story.

Why build event-driven architectures

“Event-driven architectures are really important and a growing phenomenon in large part because a lot of the problems that we have are about moving information through the processes and through the blood supply to the business, and the blood supply to organizations, in a way that's as effective and efficient as possible. Being able to move things so that you can react in real time when that data is available is a really powerful thing.”

And later:

“I think absolutely it's being driven by the scale of, ‘I want it now. I want it to be accurate now. I want it to be able to react to what I want now.’ If I make a change in my checking account and there's a financial-tracking system that I'm using that's attached to that account, I want that financial tracking system, when I log into it a minute later, to be absolutely up to date on what that transaction meant to my financial standing. Or, or whatever it is that it's analyzing. 

"If I go into the healthcare system and I get a test done and the test is complete and that test gets information and I end up in the emergency room, I want the completion of that test to be readily available—at the moment that it's completed—for the doctor that's analyzing me, rather than having to wait for a 24-hour batch-processing cycle for that to be ready.”

An audio excerpt, in which Urquhart discusses the importance of analyzing data flows and determining which uses cases require what type of system.

What is event-driven integration?

“That push model that event-driven architectures are driving are really powerful. And a great example I can give is there's a really brilliant presentation that was given by a gentleman that used to work at Walmart, at last year's DevOps Enterprise conference, where he talked about Walmart's real-time inventory system and switching to an event-driven model . . .[I]nstead of going and querying all the databases for all the different vendors that they were dealing with, they were asking to receive real-time updates of information, and then they would use that to update, basically, look-up tables for each application, which would make all kinds of problems simpler. . . .

“With the Walmart example, one of the things that's really cool is that they're not just receiving Walmart data. They're receiving data from their suppliers, as well. So they're receiving real-time updates of data from the suppliers. That's an integration problem, because not all those guys are going to be using the same underlying platform that Walmart's using.

“And that opens up a real big question about what other data business data [and] other forms of data would be better if we could get it to flow more efficiently through a market set of processes—a market system, not just an individual company's business problems. 

“And, so, event-driven integration is really about using those event streams and using the technologies we have available today to stream information between entities, to enable a more effective and efficient and easier-to-operate integration to enable that flow. It's about information that flows. It's not about things that you want to do a look-up on; that's a request-response. It's about things where you want to say, ‘I want to sit and listen, and I want you to tell me when something's ready and I'll react.’”

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About the Author

Derrick Harris

Derrick Harris is a product marketing manager at VMware.

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