Streaming analytics is an exciting emerging market. It enables enterprises to respond in real-time to context-aware insights from fast data generated by sensors, the web, mobile devices and networks for example. It also has a foothold across all industries from capital markets, retail and healthcare, to telecoms and the Internet of Things. Yet as with any new technology, widespread enterprise adoption depends on a range of factors from general awareness and skills to cost-benefit and perceived risk. But the bottom line is that the easier a technology is to use, and the fewer obstacles to production use, the better.
Which as I understand it, is precisely the thinking behind Software AG's introduction of the Apama Community Edition. Stream processing and streaming analytics is a powerful technology, used widely by those in the know, yet knowledge of data stream processing and streaming analytics within the wider enterprise world is growing, but is still relatively low. Software AG has rightly identified this as a barrier to further adoption of the technology in general. With Apama, Software AG already has a mature, enterprise proven platform for streaming analytics, with an extensive customer base across many industry sectors, plus an existing and healthy user community.
Of course, Software AG is not the first enterprise company to introduce a Community or Freemium model. Not all have been successful, and some have been half-hearted at best, with product offerings driven by fear of revenue erosion, that become so restrictive as to be useless in any reasonable production environment. And therefore unlikely to gain any level of community adoption.
The success or failure of a Community model hinges on the organisation's ability to build a community of users around the product. Seems straightforward in theory but in practice this is where most community initiatives fall short. Two aspects of the Apama Community model stood out, indicating that Software AG is heading in the right direction:
(1) First, the Apama Community Edition can be downloaded without registration. It may be a small thing, but immediately addresses any concerns around the prospect of endless sales calls for months to come. Once downloaded, Software AG is also investing in self-enablement tools that are made available through the Apama Community website (www.apamacommunity.com), including tutorials, videos, a Q&A forum and online product documentation.
(2) Second, performance. There are some differences between the Apama Community Edition and the full enterprise version of course, but the Community Edition is fully featured and with the throughput and latency performance required to deliver production solutions for the majority of performance requirements seen in today's market.
We believe that Software AG has got it right and understands the parameters of the community model - this requires a degree of altruism, the willingness to educate and to take satisfaction rather than revenue from the use of its products. That's not denying that there remains the hope that deployments will grow to the level where enterprise licensing is attractive.
This struck us as an initiative that is being done for the right reasons, by a company who understands the need to educate the wider market on the power of an emerging technology, and who has the confidence to free the reins and deliver a platform that can be used for free in production for a sensible range of use cases.