Category Archives: News

Managing Identity Across the Internet of Things

 

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It’s estimated that at least 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by end-2020. That’s more than six times the entire population of the world! With this rapid increase of the Internet of Things (IoT), the concept of identity management has extended to the Identity of Things (IDoT).

WSO2 Director of Security Architecture Prabath Siriwardena wrote a white paper that explores the benefits, risks and challenges of implementing an IDoT solution based on the concept of “connected identity”.

He explains that through IDoT, organizations can assign unique identifiers with associated metadata to devices, enabling them to connect and communicate securely and effectively with other entities over the Internet. Your ultimate goal is to reach out to as many customers, partners, distributors, and suppliers as possible that would result in more business interactions and revenue growth. This would greatly increase the number of external digital identities that interact with your enterprise. An external identity provider can be treated as an identity silo that shares its identity data or IDoT via APIs. You first need to trust the identity provider in order to accept the given user identity. Beyond this, you need to speak the same language to transport the identity data. If not, you need to either fix the identity provider’s end to speak the same language or do the same for your own enterprise.

This is not a scalable approach, and will eventually end up in a spaghetti identity anti-pattern. To avoid this, you should build a protocol-agnostic security model. With the identity bus or identity broker pattern, your enterprise isn’t coupled to a specific identity provider or a given federation protocol. The broker maintains the trust relationships between each entity as well as identity tokens between multiple heterogeneous security protocols. This creates a common, connected identity platform that enforces controlling, auditing and monitoring of identities.

Some benefits of this pattern include

  • Frictionless approach to introducing new service and identity providers and removing existing ones.
  • Easy enforcement of new authentication protocols.
  • Ability to perform claim transformations, role mapping, and just-in-time provisioning.
  • Centralized monitoring, auditing and access control.
  • Easy introduction of a new federation protocol.

When implementing an identity broker you need to follow certain fundamentals. It needs to be federation protocol, transport protocol, and authentication protocol agnostic. Additionally, it should provide the ability to perform claim transformations, home realm discovery, and multi-option and multi-step authentication, among others.

WSO2 helps you solve identity management needs across your enterprise applications, services, and APIs by utilizing the full breadth of the WSO2 platform. By combining WSO2 Identity Server’s comprehensive security model based on OAuth 2.0 with WSO2 API Manager, you can easily build an end-to-end API security ecosystem for your enterprise. Avoid vendor lock-in and enable integration across systems with WSO2’s open source model, which acts as a fully functional enterprise identity bus.

To learn more, download Prabath’s white paper here.

WSO2 named as Cool Vendor by Gartner!

Gartner has just named WSO2 as a Cool Vendor in The Internet of Things Analytics, 2016 report.

What does this mean?

Gartner’s IoT Analytics report examines what things vendors are doing in the IoT analytics space. ‘Cool Vendor’ is their designation for vendors that are particularly innovative. “WSO2 is one of the few open-source IoT analytics vendors with an end-to-end IoT platform, extensive application integration capabilities and state-of-the-art analytics features,” reads the report.

We’re grateful (and humbled) to be named here. We’ve been named Cool Vendor eight years ago for our Mashup Server product, but this one’s all for IoT analytics. Let’s drill down into what we’re being recognized for.

Our overarching analytics platform WSO2 Data Analytics Server (DAS), with WSO2 Machine Learner and WSO2 Complex Event Processor available for those who need only a specific subset of DAS’s full functionality. WSO2 DAS can handle all of the needs of IoT analytics – from batch to streaming to predictive analytics to visualization to alerts. These offerings are available as downloads to run on servers, can be run on the cloud on a PaaS and in virtual machines, and we can even host and manage the service for you.

Our strength comes in how well these three integrate with other products to form an IoT platform that can adapt to your needs. As Gartner notes, “the IoT platform uses traditional WSO2 application integration capabilities, including the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, adapters to a wide range of platforms and applications, the WSO2 API Manager and other capabilities.” Iot server, which spans all IoT related capability, is also on the way. It handles device management and many others and folds into the rest of our platform – of course, everything’s open source.

Of course, you needn’t take our word for it. Gartner’s report is readily available at https://www.gartner.com/doc/3314217/cool-vendors-internet-things-analytics. Do pay them a visit and see exactly why they chose us as cool vendors. To learn more about analytics “on the edge”, as it were, visit http://wso2.com/analytics and http://wso2.com/iot to see what we can do for you.

What does it take to build a platform ?

At WSO2, we pride ourselves to have built a very strong runtime platform, which is called Carbon. All products are based on Carbon, no exception.

For Carbon V5, we rebooted the architecture to make it leaner, as it had grown a bit of a fat belly over the last 8 years, but the principles remain the same: modular, composable, extensible architecture. We continue to leverage OSGi, which has served us well, but we are removing the dependencies on technical components which also served us well, such as Axis2, but have unfortunately grown old and are not so fit for the new IT world.

Developer Studio, which is based on Eclipse, already has a modular/extensible architecture. In V4, we are just changing the packaging so that each product team can release their tooling individually. Starting very soon, you will see appearing dedicated tooling for each product (such as Dev Studio for ESB) on every product page but of course, as for Carbon, you will be able to combine the ESB features, for example with the DSS and CEP ones if you need to to have a single IDE across all the WSO2 products.

For analytics, Data Analytics Server (DAS) is our combined offering for all types of analytics: batch (analyzing data at rest), streaming (analyzing data in real-time) and predictive (learn from existing data and predict behavior). Again , Data Analytics server serves well as a platform, since applications to be installed on top (aka toolboxes) are packaged individually and deployed. So Data Analytics for API Manager will be nothing more than the DAS product with pre-installed toolboxes for log analysis, API activity and technical monitoring. Similarly to Carbon and Dev Studio, analytics for multiple products can be combined on a single DAS server.

In fact, in order to provide a consistent experience across a large number of products, you have no choice but thinking about the underlying components first. What I explained above extends to our stores (API Store, Apps Store, Processes Store, etc.) . To do that right, we first created an enterprise store, which is really a framework for building your own store. To build dashboards for analytics, we needed a dashboard product, on which our teams could build their own visualizations and gadgets. That was User Engagement Server, now renamed as Dashboard Server.

This philosophy can be represented in the diagram visible below: at the bottom, you find the foundation servers and frameworks. On top of those, product teams build extensions and don’t have to worry about the core functionality of the framework. Of course, customers can also create extensions, or modify the default ones, typically adding their own analytics and own visualizations.

At WSO2 we are committed to this approach, as it has allowed to quickly evolve and innovate in the past 10 years. Customers benefit from this in many ways, primarily on consistency in installation, behavior, or operational management.

Transform Your Enterprise IT: Integrate and Automate

Most enterprises deal with a variety of common IT problems to which they would find quick fixes. One such example is the need to maintain five different usernames and passwords to login to five different systems. Another typical example is the closing of a sales deal – the sales department would conclude the deal and ensure the goods are delivered; this would be updated on the sales records, however, when the finance department reconciles invoices against sales at the end of the quarter, there might be mismatches because the invoicing process was missed.

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To address these issues, most enterprises will use a combination of basic IT and collaboration software to manage day-to-day requirements. And over time, these requirements will change, prompting a slight shift in the enterprise’s IT landscape too. This may result in a situation where different teams within the organization will find the most efficient ways to carry out tasks and meet their IT requirements with the use of packaged software, possibly by building their own, or even subscribing to more SaaS-type offerings.

While this might temporarily fix specific problems, it will pose long-term challenges as such measures are often not pre-planned or do not follow a particular IT roadmap. The actual negative effects of individual teams working in silos would only be felt when the company starts to grow and the use of various systems increase as well. Eventually, the use of several systems that don’t talk to each other will cause operational issues and even hurt motivation among employees.

The recurrent problems with these multiple systems working in silos include extensive manual effort, errors, blame, rework, frustration, complaints, and the need to manage multiple passwords. These in turn result in inefficiencies.

To address these challenges, the enterprise needs an easy-to-implement, cost-effective solution. There’s no guarantee though that there would be a plug and play type of system or one that could be customized to meet the enterprise’s exact requirements. The enterprise would seek a unique, bespoke solution that would either mean they change the way they work with existing software or rethink the software itself.

The most viable option would be to integrate the systems (which, of course, have proven to be efficient to meet a specific requirement) used by different functions and then explore some sort of automation that will provide relief to employees.

WSO2’s highly-acclaimed open-source middleware platform has the capabilities that enable seamless integration of IT applications, thus streamlining day-to-day business activities of a given enterprise. This in turn will boost efficiency and integration across business functions and teams and improve overall productivity as well.

For instance, WSO2 Identity Server (WSO2 IS) can define an identification for a user in a particular organization, enabling him/her to log into multiple systems on-cloud or on-premise with a single username/password.

The enterprise too will benefit as WSO2 IS offers provisioning capabilities that allow your IT to register and auto-provision new employees across multiple systems as well as easily de-provision them when they leave the organization.

WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus can meet all your integration challenges with its capability to connect various systems that speak different languages. It also comes with a defined set of connectors to further support integration of systems, be it on the cloud or on-premise.

Once all of your systems have been integrated, you can leverage WSO2 Data Analytics Server (WSO2 DAS) to pull reports from different functions within your organization and automatically collate data that will translate to valuable information required to make business decisions. WSO2 DAS has in-built dashboard capabilities that will automatically create and publish dashboards on a real-time basis.

Moreover, all WSO2’s products are 100% open source, which gives enterprises the freedom of choice and empowers the business with limitless possibilities to expand.

Learn more about WSO2’s comprehensive and open platform for your connected enterprise.

For more details on how to establish friendly enterprise IT and get more love from your team, watch this talk by WSO2’s VP Operations, Shevan Goonetilleke.

Enterprise Mobility Management: Moving Beyond Traditional Mobile Device Management

Today, managing mobility is not just confined to embracing the bring your own device (BYOD) or corporately owned, personally enabled (COPE) concepts in your enterprise, or which device platform or operating system you use. The focus has shifted to more advanced strategies that enable enterprises to become connected and reach a new level of agility through digital transformation.

While the modern enterprise mobility management landscape has transformed significantly, it has also brought about more complexities.

Employees now work from locations all over the world, access data from various data centers and share this data not only through corporate networks, but also through cloud services and APIs. Because of this sense of globalization and the advent of cooler and more convenient mobile devices, enterprises started adopting mechanisms that consider all these factors in their infrastructure in order make their employees and their company as a whole more productive.

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This made device management not only about managing, securing and storing device data. It’s now about making mobility management part of the entire enterprise ecosystem. This means you need to think about broader aspects like governance, analytics, and identity provisioning. Such a system needs to

  • Be extensible enough to support all devices and operating system types.
  • Have a plug-in model that allows you to integrate with other tools (such as analytics and governance tools) existing in your environment.
  • Be able to moderate, approve and provision applications through a corporate app store.
  • Produce analytics dashboards, audit trails and reports to supplement business strategies.
  • Have comprehensive policy management and enforcement functionality with capabilities such as compliance monitoring, containerization, data encryption and password enforcement.

So how exactly do you go about building such a comprehensive enterprise mobility management system? By using the right tool for the right job. You need to implement a tool that not only meets the above requirements, but is also scalable enough to accommodate your enterprise’s growth. It should also be user-friendly and customizable in order to win over your employees.

Where can you find such a solution? Right here. WSO2 Enterprise Mobility Manager (WSO2 EMM) offers all of this and more. Key advantages of adopting WSO2 EMM:

  • Gives you the ability to compose, enforce and manage granular level security policies for individual and groups of devices.
  • Enables strategic decision making by making information gathered across all mobile business activities available through powerful dashboards with analytics and reporting.
  • Strengthens security through data encryption and password enforcement among other things.
  • Embraces device ownership schemes like BYOD enabling employees to be more efficient and make decisions faster while saving enterprises the procurement and data plan cost associated with each user.

WSO2 EMM is a 100% open source comprehensive enterprise-grade platform with all the capabilities you need for enterprise mobility management including device configuration management, policy enforcement, app management, device data security, and compliance monitoring.

To learn more about WSO2 EMM and its capabilities, watch WSO2 Technical Lead Prabath Abeysekara’s talk on Enterprise Mobility Management: Moving Beyond Traditional MDM at WSO2Con Asia 2016.

Modern Solution Development: The Battle Between ‘Retaining’ and ‘Changing’ Technology

In today’s fast-paced technology world, change is constant and rapid. New concepts continually emerge, gain traction, disappear, and reemerge. While it’s important to embrace this evolution, core concepts that work in older technology should not be tossed out either.  

During his closing keynote at WSO2Con USA 2015, Dr. Donald Ferguson – former vice president and CTO of Dell, identified concepts independent of the specific technology realization in order to highlight requirements that current technologies don’t meet.

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He noted that although concepts such as loose coupling, service delivery, and asynchronous messaging have been used for various different technologies like common object request broker architecture (CORBA), Web services, and service-oriented architecture (SOA), each of these is just an improvement, yet based on the same ideas. “The key thing when going forward is to make sure that we don’t loose some of the things that we managed to bring forward because they were good,” he adds.

He explains these similarities, improvements, and limitations are apparent when comparing SOA to microservices for instance; features such as programming style, code type, messaging type, and the use of databases are similar in both concepts whereas there are certain important distinctions in means of evolution, systematic change, and scaling. “It’s more about how you do it – the internal architecture, than the externals. With one exception – smart endpoints and dumb pipes” says Ferguson. This concept encourages the microservice community to use a light-weight message bus (a hub) that acts solely as a message router and leaves the smart part of things (receiving a request, applying appropriate logic and producing a response) to the service itself.

But as Ferguson states, “You don’t want just a hub, you want it to be active”. If you open any book on enterprise application design patterns, they first show you what not to do – a monolithic point-to-point architecture. To avoid doing this you need to connect everything through a hub that needs to be able to reformat, route and combine messages as well as understand different protocols and data types that will travel across it. This is where middleware, or specifically the enterprise service bus (ESB) becomes important.

Ferguson notes that dumb fast messaging seems more appealing than using a powerful ESB but it just repeats the fallacies of quick point-to-point connections. Using an active hub and taking advantage of middleware to do it is much more advantageous because it adds value and improves robustness, reusability and scalability.

He further adds that any organization can realize tremendous value from microservices and other new technology; however, this could sometimes result in the risk of losing benefits like interface dependency and optimized composition that emerged in the past. “This needs to be done through application design patterns and middleware that empowers them…that’s part of the value WSO2 is,”he concludes.

WSO2’s complete middleware stack includes the WSO2 integration, API management, security and analytics platforms. By leveraging these components and more you can easily develop modern solutions despite what technology you use.

To learn more, watch Don Ferguson’s presentation at WSO2Con US 2015.

 

How you can Increase Agility and Expandability with Event Driven Architecture (EDA)

From ordering your favorite kind of pizza or a taxi to manufacturing and financial processes, everything is event driven today. People expect to do everything immediately, get instant feedback on the status of their request, and interact in real-time with anybody involved in the process.

John Mathon, the former vice president of enterprise evangelism at WSO2, wrote a white paper which explores how you can keep pace with these demands by implementing event driven architecture (EDA) in your enterprise.

EDA is essentially a messaging system that notifies interested parties of events that occur in order for them to benefit from it. The publish/subscribe model was implemented in the earliest real-time event-driven systems. Anonymity, discoverability and guaranteed delivery were a few of the characteristics that made it popular.

But this simple model deemed insufficient for the demanding and varied needs of subscribers, notes Mathon. Here came the rise of the enterprise service bus (ESB), which standardized enterprise integration patterns, the business process server (BPS) which allowed messages to trigger business processes that dealt with events and business activity monitor, now named data analytics server (DAS), to monitor the health of enterprises through statistics.

These tools became standard components in an EDA and are useful even today, which is why IoT is reusing pub/subs all over again.

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The easiest, fastest and most efficient way of implementing EDA in your enterprise is to incorporate already existing event-driven technologies. You may think writing dedicated software would be more cost efficient and cater more to your specific needs, but in the long run the cost of maintenance would be over a dozen times more than the initial cost of development.

Existing tools are designed to increase performance and reliability of your system. It’s also easy for non-programmers to use because of features such as drag-and-drop components. They can handle large loads and are robust, secure and resilient to failure.

You can choose a specific tool for a specific problem. For example, long-running processes use BPS and short-running ones use message broker (MB). Also, when the tools are combined together it can provide additional power by working together to achieve one goal.

The problem with combining tools is that they can each be large monolithic entities that require significant communication bandwidth and can cause increased load on servers. WSO2 solves this problem because all the tools you require are built as light-weight components with the same base framework making it possible to combine them in the same Java runtime.

When implementing an EDA you need to keep in mind the message flow rates and the characteristic of the message flows. Make sure not to create extremely large messages or do a lot of computation during processing. You also need to consider whether you will be designing for microservices; your architecture design depends on this. API management is another key factor that you need to keep in mind. And lastly, you need to know which tool to use for which job.

WSO2 offers a full suite of open source components for EDA to implement highly scalable and reliable enterprise grade solutions. This includes a complete middleware stack, which includes the WSO2 integration, analytics, security and API management platforms.

For more details download John’s whitepaper here.

Only 2 more weeks for WSO2Con Europe 2016!

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With only 2 weeks to go, we’re ready to rock your minds, and maybe even your bodies, at WSO2Con Europe happening at Park Plaza, Riverbank, London from June 7 to 9 this year. Get ready for three full days of knowledge, networking and entertainment at one of the biggest middleware conferences in the world!

We recently added guest speaker Roland Major, an enterprise architect at Transport for London, to the agenda, where he will be talking about Reducing Disruption to the Road Network Through the Cloud.

There’s more! Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Inspiring keynotes from industry leaders including Vice President and Principal Analyst of Forrester Research Inc. Nigel Fenwick’s talk on Digital Predator Or Prey: Which Will Your Company Be?
  • Insightful sessions on Internet of Things (IoT), microservices, API management, security, analytics and more including 12 guest speakers from Profesia, City Sprint, Yenlo, CSI Piemonte and Emoxa among others.
  • Hands-on product tutorials by WSO2 experts covering areas such as integration, security, IoT and mobility, analytics and devops.
  • Networking opportunities with industry thought leaders, peers and WSO2 experts at the welcome reception and conference party.
  • A strategy forum that will help CxOs uncover key strategies and gain insights into how their enterprise can remain competitive and grow revenue.
  • A solutions provider track where our sponsors, including Yenlo and RealDolman, will explore customer use cases on partner driven projects built around the WSO2 platform.

Visit https://eu16.wso2con.com/ for more information about the agenda, speakers and registration.

Connected Finance: Unleashing the True Potential of Finance with Technology

Evolution in technology has made customers more demanding, and at the same time, created new opportunities for financial institutions. The meteoric evolution of technology has prompted customers to look for quick and convenient ways to carry out banking needs, making mobile and online services popular. Financial companies need to make sure that they can deliver these services independent of location in a secure manner. It has also become compulsory to accommodate mobile payments and virtual payments in the connected finance ecosystem, resulting in a complex IT landscape.

Enterprises in the financial industry recognize the importance of delivering these needs to remain competitive; however, the challenge is to build a real-time system that centrally connects everything. Services and APIs are used to seamlessly connect the various backend components to build a robust connected ecosystem.

Asanka Abeysinghe, VP of Solutions Architecture at WSO2, recently authored a white paper – Connected Finance Reference Architecture – in which he discusses the significance of creating a connected finance system. He also explains how a middleware platform can be used to address each and every challenge faced at implementation.

Here are some highlights from this white paper.

The connected finance architecture will primarily facilitate regular, day-to-day functionalities, as well as call center-type functionalities, virtual payments, credit card payments and payment gateways. It will also make the vast amounts of data centrally accessible, allowing decision makers to gain business insights via customized reports and dashboards.

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Given the sensitive nature of the industry, this aspect is important and needs to be addressed properly. For this, the architecture should connect all the systems and ensure all security measures have been incorporated. Each and every transaction should be closely monitored while ensuring all transactions flow through the same layer allowing the company to  monitor, manage, and govern financial transactions.

In addition, Asanka explores the role of event-driven architecture (EDA) in the connected finance ecosystem along with an architectural pattern for monitoring gateways. He discusses how WSO2’s complete cloud architecture enables enterprises to implement a hybrid deployment that complies with the tight regulations of the financial industry.

For any financial company, becoming a connected business will help to provide customers a better service as well as enable them to become more efficient and profitable overall.

For more details on the Connected Finance Reference Architecture, download and read the white paper here.

Solving the DEBS 2016 Grand Challenge using WSO2 CEP

The ACM DEBS Grand Challenge is a yearly competition where the participants implement an event-based solution to solve a real world high-volume streaming data problem.

This year’s grand challenge involves developing a solution to solve two (real world) problems by analyzing a social-network graph that evolves over times. The data for the DEBS 2016 Grand Challenge has been generated using Linked Data Benchmark Council (LDBC) social network data generator. The ranking of the solutions is carried out by measuring their performance using two performance metrics: (1) throughput and (2) average latency.

WSO2’s been submitting solutions to the grand challenge since 2013, and our previous grand challenge solutions have been ranked as one of the top solutions among the submissions. This year, too, we submitted a solution using WSO2 CEP/Siddhi. Based on its performance, this year’s solution has also been selected as one of the best solutions. As a result, we’ve been invited to submit a full paper to the DEBS 2016 conference to be held from 20 June to June 24.

In this blog I’ll present some details of DEBS queries, (a brief) overview our solution and some performance results.

Query 1

As pointed out earlier, DEBS 2016 involves developing an event-based solution to solve two real world use cases of an event processing application.

The first problem (query) deals with the identification of posts that currently trigger the most activity in a social network. This query accepts two input streams namely the posts and comments.

Think of a Facebook post with comments. Our goal is to compute the top three active posts where the score of a post is computed as the sum of its own score and the score of its related comments. The initial score of a post is 10 and it decreases by 1 every 24 hours. Similarly, the initial score of a comment is also 10 and decreases by 1 in the same manner.

Note that the score of a post/comment cannot reach below zero; a post whose total score is greater than zero is defined as an active post.

Query 2

The second deals with the identification of large communities that are currently involved in a topic.

This query accepts three input streams : 1) comments 2) likes and 3) friendships.

The aim is to find the k comments with the largest range, where the comments were created more than d seconds ago. Range here is defined as the size of the largest connected components in the graph defined by the persons who have liked that comment and know each other.

The friendship stream plays an important role in this query, as it establishes the friendships between the users in the system. The following figures shows the friendship graph when the system receives 10 and 100 friendship events respectively.

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Figure 1: Friendship Graph (Number of Events = 10)

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Figure 2: Friendship Graph (Number of Events = 100)

Further analysis of the friendship graph indicates that the degree of distribution of the friendship graph is long-tailed (see Figure 3). This means that there are very small number of users who have a large number of friends and a large number of users have a few friends.

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Figure 3: Degree Distribution of Friendship Graph

Solution Overview

We implemented the solution using WSO2 CEP as an extension to Siddhi. The solution is a multi-threaded: it processes the two queries in parallel.

Each query is processed as a pipeline where the pipeline consists of three phases: 1) data loading, 2) event-ordering and 3) processing. Each phase in the query is processed using one or more threads. In the data loading phase the data streams are loaded from the files (i.e.disk) and placed in (separate) buffers. Each event stream has its own buffer which is implemented as a blocking queue.

The purpose of the event-ordering phase is to order the events based on their timestamps prior to sending them to the event processor (note: As far as events in an event buffer is concerned, they are already ordered based on their timestamps. The purpose of the ordering done in this phase is to ensure that the merged event-stream that is sent to event processor is ordered based on their timestamps). The core calculation modules of the queries are implemented in the processing thread.

Performance results

The solution was tested on a four core/8GB virtual machine running Ubuntu Server 15.10. As discussed earlier, the two performance metrics used for evaluating the system are the throughput and the mean latency. The performance evaluation has been carried out using two data sets of different sizes (see here and here).

The throughput and mean latency of query 1 for the small data set are 96,004 events/second and 6.11 ms respectively. For the large data set the throughput and mean latency of the query 1 are 71,127 events/sec and 13 ms.

The throughput and mean latency of query 2 for the small data set are 215,642 events/second and 0.38 ms respectively. For the large data set the throughput and mean latency of the query 2 are 327,549 events/sec and 0.73 ms.

A detailed description of the queries and specific optimization techniques that we have used in our queries can be found in a paper titled Continuous Analytics on Graph Data Streams using WSO2 Complex Event Processor, which will be presented shortly  in DEBS 2016: the 10th ACM International Conference Event-Based Systems, June 2016.