What Is Zero Latency Enterprise?
Gartner Group define Zero Latency Enterprise as:
any strategy that exploits the immediate exchange of information across technical and organizational boundaries to achieve business benefit. For example, technical boundaries exist between different operating systems, database management systems and programming languages. “Immediate” implies being fast enough to bring all of the business benefits that simultaneous knowledge can potentially achieve.
But what is this really telling us? Well, the key word is "immediate", and relates to the word "latency". Latency is delay in doing something, or the time between a cause and it's effect. If a customer places an order at 11:00:00AM and the system that creates your picklist doesn't update with the new order until 2:59:30PM the same day, you have tremendous latency in your system. OTOH, if the picking sytem was updated with seconds (or even milliseconds) of the order being placed, then you are running at near zero latency.
To understand why this is important, consider an analogy: If there were 10 seconds of latency between the time your eye detected a hungry tiger crouching nearby, and the time your brain received the signal, you would be in big trouble if you happen to look like tiger food. In an Enterprise setting things aren't quite so dramatic - and not all latency is bad - but in most situations you want information to disseminate rapidly throughout the organization so that it's available where and when it's needed to support operational excellence and superior decision making.
A Zero Latency Enterprise then, is an enterprise in which the Information Technology infrastructure and applications are "wired" so that information is synchronized across applications, processed and analyzed, and insights are made available to decision makers, in near real-time, with the minimum possible latency.
Why Should I Care About Zero Latency Enterprise?
Running as a Zero Latency Enterprise increases your firm's ability to achieve operational excellence, provide top notch customer service, stay on top of competitors and stay out in front of rapidly evolving customer demands. At a tactical level, you need data and information to flow freely and quickly, just like a person trying to avoid becoming tiger lunch needs information (from the eyes) to flow rapidly (to the brain).
Imagine, for a moment, a firm with an online ecommerce system where customers can place orders, which are saved to an Orders application. On the other hand, Customer data is stored in a separate CRM system. Data is synced between the two systems using a periodic batch process, resulting in tremendous latency between data entering the Order system and it being reflected in the Customer system. Now, when a customer calls to check on their available credit with the firm, a Customer Service Rep gives them an answer, based on the (out dated) data in the CRM system. The next day, the same customer places a separate order, which is rejected due to their credit balance. Now, how does this customer feel about the firm? How much confidence will they have in anything told to them by this firm in the future? Will the be placing anymore orders?
As you can see, excessive latency in your IT systems interferes with your ability to provide top notch customer support and may cost your customers, and damage your reputation. This alone should be reason enough to start thinking about the Zero Latency Enterprise journey... but wait, there's more!
How Can Zero Latency Enterprise Benefit My Organization?
In addition to helping your firm avoid embarrassing mistakes, the Zero Latency Enterprise approach is a core competency required to fully implement a Digital Nervous System and to become a fully Sense & Respond enabled Adaptive Enterprise.
Running at, or near, Zero Latency status is also a pre-requisite to offering customer self-service via the Internet or phone. Customers expect their data to be up to date within seconds, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you can't offer that kind of access, your customers will start looking for someone who can.
Becoming a Zero Latency Enterprise also gives you the best chance at recognizing changing conditions in real-time and responding to them appropriately? Is that a tiger moving behind those brushes, or just a rabbit? Did your competitor's new product launch effectively steal any of your business, or did they totally botch it? Can you tell? How quickly can you tell? How fast can you react when you decide?
Being able to answer these kinds of questions is a primary reason you should begin pursuing Zero Latency within your enterprise today.
How Do I Implement Zero Latency Enterprise?
Open Source software provides all of the building blocks you need to construct a Zero Latency IT infrastructure. Fogbeam Labs provide commercial support, consulting and services for a number of projects. Each firm has different existing infrastructure and requirements so there are no cookie cutter solutions to becoming a ZLE.
Some of the projects we recommend as part of most ZLE rollouts include:
- Apache ActiveMQ - JMS compliant Message Oriented Middleware
- Apache ServiceMix - Enterprise Service Bus
- Apache Camel - Lightweight Routing and Mediation engine
- Apache CXF - Web Services Engine
- Apache Kafka - High Performance Pub/Sub Messaging System
- Apache S4 - Distributed Stream Computing Platform
- Apache Hadoop - Map / Reduce "Big Data" Platform
- Apache Cassandra - Distributed NoSQL Database
For more information on how we can help you build a Zero Latency infrastructure with Open Source Software, please contact us today.
Gartner Group ZLE definition is from http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/zle-zero-latency-enterprise/