an interesting writeup on rule-engine performance, comparison between
MS-Biztalk-Rule-Engine, Drools and Jess.... plus a rather lengthy (and friendly!) comment thread.
One summary: one should really care about rules and their management (most engines don't provide much support here!), less about details of rule algorithms... Your business simply doesn't care about RETE or not, unless their rules are interpreted correctly.
Would be nice if more commercial rule-engine providers would publish comparable benchmarks... maybe one of you readers could wake them up!