Camunda announced today it is making available a community edition of its Zeebe workflow engine for Kubernetes that integrates with open source Apache Kafka and Elasticsearch frameworks.
Company CTO Daniel Meyer says organizations are developing more microservices than ever, yet there is no simple way to unify them all to drive a digital business process. Zeebe solves that problem by providing access to a workflow engine that each microservice can be attached to via a gRPC application programming interface. A gRPC API is a more modern implementation of a traditional remote procedure call capable of spanning multiple platforms.
Camunda already provides a business process management (BPM) framework, but Zeebe is written from the ground up for Kubernetes environments, where microservices will be employed to drive more agile use cases for BPM, Meyer says. A Kubernetes platform provides the high-availability attributes required to ensure the Zeebe workflow engine is always available.
In general, BPM platforms are experiencing a resurgence as organizations of all sizes look to embrace digital business transformation initiatives to drive more flexible e-commerce processes spanning multiple organizations. Microservices based on containers would make it simpler for those organizations to extend a workflow by adding and replacing containers dynamically.
To achieve that goal, Zeebe provides not only the ability to design workflows incorporating multiple microservices but also monitor workflows and associated service level agreements, Meyer says. Organizations also can maintain audit logs to run historical analysis across those workflows using a toolkit for modeling, executing and troubleshooting business processes, Meyer says. That approach, he adds, also makes it possible for business analysts and developers to share a common set of graphical tools to construct, map and extend business processes within the same visual application development environment. In addition, that level of collaboration should reduce significantly much of the friction that has existed between those two teams.
It’s unclear how much the convergence of BPM and microservices based on containers will accelerate digital business transformation projects. However, the pace of those projects is occurring at a rate most business and IT leaders would like to accelerate. The prospect of an entire industry being disrupted by an unexpected rival leveraging modern IT to render incumbents in a vertical industry obsolete keeps many executives up at night. A more agile BPM platform would not only make it easier to close any digital gaps that might suddenly appear, but also enable incumbents to gain market share as they deliver a more modern customer experience. After all, a graphical user interface running on a mobile computing device isn’t going to be of much use if the application isn’t connected to a variety of backend services.
It may take a while for organizations to reach this next stage of digital business innovation enabled by microservices and containers. But organizations that are not already moving down this path probably won’t be around to see how it all eventually turns out.