Application Story: Tibco Visualizing Ops & Infrastructure

Event Processing Technology and Trends Series

Visualizing Operations and Infrastructure Events

An example use case — Glenn Hoskins

Say you’re on a game-changing exercise to fully model your operations and infrastructure and track it in real time. You might be in the finance, insurance, logistics, retail, transportation, or other industry. For our example here, you are a major European railway operator.

You envision building a complete, holistic model that will give you
the competitive advantage you need to scale your business. This virtual transportation model is built on information from event servers installed in a central location as well as on trains. This network becomes the testbed for rules and algorithms that will provide the capability to simulate and replay scenarios, as well as predict and provide early warnings to the business.


This use case, and many others, is a perfect fit for TIBCO BusinessEvents®, a
great tool for tracking and analyzing events. It can model objects into complex hierarchies, perform stateful correlation over long durations, and execute rules based on triggering events and stored state. But, while TIBCO BusinessEvents has business-friendly user interfaces for managing decision tables and rule templates, such as TIBCO BusinessEvents® WebStudio, actually visualizing data flowing through it is not so easy.

Log files could be a source of real-time information, but they are not user friendly, and excessive logging can adversely impact performance. By pushing data into a monitored database, a traditional business intelligence tool could be used, but due to their batch nature, the best we can hope for is near real-time intelligence. Your situation is that any delay during irregular railway operations could lead to missed opportunities to take corrective action.


This is where TIBCO® Live Datamart steps in. It’s like a data warehouse attached directly to streams of data coming from the event processing platform. Data capture is true real time, and the information is displayed immediately using web or thick clients. Business users can take action in the moment while information is still relevant. TIBCO Live Datamart can be used to animate trains moving on a map, display schedules as Gantt charts, and show occupancy and travel information on fully customized visual diagrams.


TIBCO BusinessEvents and TIBCO Live Datamart can be integrated using a couple of techniques. One choice is to use an in-memory data grid, TIBCO ActiveSpaces®, as an intermediate layer.

TIBCO ActiveSpaces

For your railway, you will have one TIBCO Live Datamart table that tracks position, speed, and bearing of all trains. In ActiveSpaces, one space is defined for each TIBCO Live Datamart table. When a train notifies the event server of an updated GPS position, TIBCO BusinessEvents uses the ActiveSpaces channel to PUT this data into the train space.

On the other side, TIBCO Live Datamart is configured with a data source event- flow application that uses the ActiveSpaces operator. The operator listens for events on the train space and when a PUT event is detected, the operator emits
a tuple. The tuple is published to the train table in TIBCO Live Datamart. The datamart detects a change in the train position and notifies all interested clients through a query delta notification. Now train position can be updated on the map in real time.


While the tuple technique works well in isolation, such as when TIBCO BusinessEvents and TIBCO Live Datamart are the only components, trains will gather information on the local event server before pushing notifications across a data link as messages. These messages go into the centralized infrastructure and may be used by any number of components. The second technique makes use of messaging as the intermediate layer.

TIBCO Enterprise Message Service

Here TIBCO Enterprise Message Service™ is the messaging layer. The event server monitoring trains pushes speed and position reports over a broadband or Wifi link into the central messaging layer. TIBCO BusinessEvents detects these reports and publishes notification messages on a JMS topic. These messages are bridged onto a dedicated queue for TIBCO Live Datamart, providing guaranteed delivery.

Within TIBCO Live Datamart, a data source event flow listens for train messages using the JMS operator. When a message arrives, the operator emits a tuple that is published to the train table in TIBCO Live Datamart. Again, the datamart detects the change and notifies interested clients to update the map.

By decoupling event processing from the datamart, you are not restricted to only displaying event data. When a train reports its position, it may provide only a unique identifier to keep messages small. You can use reference data to retrieve information about the train type, capacity, top speed, acceleration, deceleration, or any number of parameters that can enrich the data going into TIBCO Live Datamart to give business users more context for making decisions.


Once TIBCO BusinessEvents and TIBCO Live Datamart are integrated, you can create live dashboards and visualizations. TIBCO LiveView™ Desktop provides this capability out-of-the-box. Tables, alerts, and charts can all be configured, displayed, and updated in real time.

TIBCO LiveView
Moving beyond the standard user interface, there are APIs available for building fully customized thick clients using Java or .NET, or rich thin clients using HTML5 and JavaScript.


These fully customized HTML5 dashboards all update in real time, and give the railway operator a view of where all the trips and trains are on an interactive map. Selecting a trip gives information about the trip status, occupancy status, and whether or not the trip is on schedule.

Further, drilldowns display a customized stop diagram with the status of each stop. This includes scheduled, estimated, and actual arrival and departure times. An equipment diagram gives a view at a glance of which train cars are standing- room only and which have seats available. A block diagram can be used to show how the current trip fits into the overall train schedule for the day. In the event of delays, this diagram can be invaluable to operations in assigning equipment to the appropriate lines to minimize delays.

Finally, the dashboard displays alerts so that operations can take action. In the case of delays, alerts can be generated externally or by the event server. Operations staff can also use this dashboard to create their own alerts which are then reflected in the virtual transportation model.

With all these capabilities, you have a true real-time view of what’s happening in the network. Instant, visual feedback on transit network health and real-time control over risks and issues allow the railway to be proactive rather than reactive in managing exceptions. And in a world of demanding customers, competitive pressures, cost constraint, and increasing regulatory oversight, the ability to mitigate and correct problems before your customers know about them is a real game-changer.

Download TIBCO: Visualizing Operations and Infrastructure Events by Glenn Hoskins

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