Camunda Hopes to Solve Microservices Analytics Conundrum

The advantages microservices offer are many, including allowing applications to be broken down into different modules that can be replaced or modified without interrupting business processes. The benefits also include the ability to configure, test and deploy microservices that can be shared with a range of applications, while improving development speeds and agility compared to traditional monolithic application deployment.

However, managing them can pose difficulties as they scale in size. If a single microservice fails, for example, it can, in many cases, cause one or more applications to fail. Detecting, probing and fixing one bad microservice out of many can also pose challenges.

Meanwhile, existing business process workflow platforms running on microservices have lacked analytics capabilities to pinpoint individual microservice issues. The problems are compounded when a system is running hundreds or even thousands of interconnected microservices.

Germany-based Camunda says it has a solution. Its Optimize 2.0which serves as an extension to its enterprise platform, allows enterprises to monitor and analyze the entire ecosystem of potentially thousands of microservices an organization has deployed. As Camunda’s platform allows for emerging massive scale event processing and orchestration of complex business flows based on microservices, Optimize 2.0 facilitates close monitoring of individual microservice performance, according to the company.

“With big workflow management solutions we offer, you can process massive amounts of transactions and complex distributed chains of microservices and make sure everything works,” says Jakob Freund, co-founder and CEO of Camunda. “With Optimize 2.0, you have the visibility to make sure each microservice is working and that the architecture is resilient. You then have the monitoring capability to make sure everything is happening as it is supposed to happen.”

Optimize 2.0’s user interface (UI) features a flowchart diagram that details the sequence of steps for the different processes. The flowchart shows, among other things, which processes and microservices are executed most often.

With the help of the flowchart, potential bottlenecks in business processes can be detected ahead of time, Camunda says. One potential use-case scenario might be if, for example, an organization receives a cluster of 1,000 unexpected orders and transactions during a short time period. Thanks to the visibility the Optimize 2.0’s workflow diagram offers, monitoring and reconfiguring individual microservices to prevent or fix workflow bottlenecks are facilitated, Camunda says.

The Camunda Enterprise Platform is based on the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard. This is an open source graphics interface of business workflow processes and transactions.

Other companies, such as Netflix, Uber, ING and Amazon, have developed their own open source engines for microservices orchestration and analytics.

In the case of Netflix’s Conductor, millions of users select, stream and download movies and TV series, with the help of microservices running transparently in the background. Netflix’s Conductor serves as an orchestration engine to manage these thousands of microservices with a JSON DSL-based blueprint, which defines execution flow. Conductor enables Netflix developers and administers to analyze, test, pause and stop, and repair individual models within the different processes, all of which power Netflix’ worldwide network.

Alternatives for BPMN coupled with microservices analytics and monitoring capabilities include very large-scale and arguably pricey solutions, including Oracle’s BPM packages or IBM’s WebSphere Processor Server.

Camunda’s Enterprise Platform and Optimize 2.0 customers withstanding, BPMN architectures with microservices analytics are almost exclusively developed in-house, especially for cloud-based deployments, says Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. “One of the problems of moving microservices to the cloud is [that] not all the necessary infrastructure such as analytics is available yet,” Mueller said. “It’s like two years ago, when you built a new app in the cloud, but all integration tools had to run on-premises to connect the new app with the existing application landscape.”

Camunda is available as an open source platform, while Optimize 2.0 is part of the commercially licensed Camunda Enterprise Platform.

Camunda so far has more than 200 customers including AT&T. Goldman Sachs, which uses Camunda’s open source platform, is not counted as a customer yet.

“Companies are now just beginning to set up complex microservices architectures. The next leap is how to handle this complexity, which is also the next challenge,” Freund said. “Workflow automation will also play a major role in microservices analytics.”

B. Cameron Gain

B. Cameron Gain

B. Cameron Gain first began writing about technology when he hacked the Commodore 64 family computer in the early 1980s and documented his exploit. Since his misspent youth, he has put his obsession with software development to better use by writing thousands of papers, manuals, and articles for both online and print. His byline has appeared in Wired, PCWorld, Technology Review, Popular Science, EEtimes, and numerous other media outlets.

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