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Workflow Orchestration: Introduction, Types, Tools and Use Cases

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Introduction to Workflow Orchestration

Workflow orchestration is the automation of a workflow or multiple tasks. In other words, orchestration handles multiple automated tasks to execute a single significant process or workflow.

Workflow

It is a set of sequences or steps of tasks and data processes between these steps. In other words, it tells us about the work's execution and data flow. In the previous workflow, the stage has a connection to the next one, which means data of earlier steps processes to the next one. If these steps are individual and no data flow between them, then it is not a workflow. 

Orchestration

It is configuringmanaging, and coordinating computer applications and services automatically. Orchestration is different from automation. Automation is automating a single task to make our business more efficient and productive, but the orchestration automates the whole process and workflow, which may contain different disparate systems.


Types of Orchestration

We have various types of orchestration, but we will be going to discuss only three of them. These are:

Cloud Orchestration

Cloud orchestration helps to start, deploy, or provision servers, manage networks, and gain access to services on the cloud. Its role is to manage interactions between workloads on private or public clouds.

Service Orchestration

Service orchestration provides end to end solutions. It includes designing, creating, delivering, and running an application.

Release Orchestration

Release Orchestration helps to manage and orchestrate an end to end release pipeline of software. Thus it takes care of the tasks and status of the release pipeline.


ARO tools enable enterprises to scale release activities across multiple, diverse, and multigenerational teams, technologies, development methodologies, delivery patterns, pipelines, processes, and their supporting toolchains. Source: Gartner, Inc

Tools Used for Workflow Orchestration

To choose the right tool for orchestration is an essential task. It can help to speed up the progress. As these tools have to execute repetitive manual tasks. For coherent and clear cross automation, it is necessary to choose a platform that brings Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Fuzzy logic, Natural Language Processing, etc. We have various tools and software which are useful for orchestration. Some of them are: 

  • KubernetesIt is an open-source platform that leads to the management of containerized workloads and also in automating computer applications deployment and scaling.
  • Ansible: Ansible is appropriate for managing all environments from setups with limited instances to enterprise environments with many thousand instances.
Check out our blog giving an Overview of Configuration Management with Ansible
  • CFEngineAn open-source tool that helps to break complex things into simpler ones by automating the configuration management process.
  • Microsoft Azure
  • TerraformTerraform is an open-source Infrastructure as a code that helps in enabling you to securely create, modify, and enhance infrastructure
  • Cloudbees: It helps in risk reduction and optimization of software delivery

Use Cases of an Orchestration Workflow

Case 1

Client Introduction: Spotify is an international media provider. It has headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

Story: Spotify is an early adopter of docker and microservices. He had containerized microservices since 2014. They are using Helios, which is an open-source homegrown container orchestration system. They migrated from on-premise data centers to Google cloud in 2016-2017. Now they have over 200 autonomous engineers working there. Day by day, as they were growing by late 2017, it becomes difficult for them to handle work using Helios with a small team.

Then they adopt Kubernetes, which is grown up at that time. Kubernetes added velocity, reduced cost, increased efficiency, and aligned the tools and industry on best practices. When they are replacing Helios, they can run both of these alongside. During migration, services are running on both, so reduce risk while adopting Kubernetes. Hence in 2018, they can use API and extensible features of Kubernetes for supporting and interfacing legacy systems. In 2019 they were addressing their last remaining technology.

Their 150 services have migrated to Kubernetes. Now they need to spend less time on manual tasks. They can perform the same job in seconds or minutes that was taking hours previously.

Case 2

Client Introduction: Babylon is a health service provider. It provides remote consultation that is in the United Kingdom. 

Story: They are using different technologies. Many products are leveraging technologies such as Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, due to which their organization is expanding day by day. It also starts expanding to other countries. To run particular experiments in these fields, they don't have enough in-house computing power.

Then to solve this problem, Babylon had migrated to the Kubernetes platform. The infrastructure team has started using Kubeflow. Kubeflow is a toolkit of machine learning on Kubernetes. They created their Kubernetes core server and deployed Kubeflow. Not only this, but they orchestrated the whole process. 

Thus this process helps Babylon to increase the efficiency of work. Kubernetes machine learning comes with the capability of scheduling and scalability, which allows them a lot.


Benefits of Workflow Orchestration

Automation

Automation is one of the benefits of Orchestration. It helps to increase efficiency, productivity, accuracy and reduce the time of performing tasks. Hence it reduces operational expenses. These tasks can be automated on-premise, in the cloud, or in other hybrid configurations.

Discover more about Orchestration vs Automation

Efficiency

Continuous delivery of changes and automation helps the organization to increase the efficiency of an organization.

Communication

It improves cross-department communication. In release orchestration, it becomes easy for the release manager to communicate with others working in that department. A centralized dashboard helps to take clear and consistent information about releases. It helps all to get a clear overview of things.

Cost Saving

Orchestration provides excellent efficiency in workflow. It helps to make significant revenue by orchestrating workflow as it contains fewer manual operations. It promotes the economical usage of resources.

Reduction of errors

There are more chances of mistakes when humans perform tasks. By orchestrating these tasks, it reduces manual errors. Orchestration enables a consistent and reliable environment by utilizing predictable processes in predictable situations.

Simplified Optimization

Workflow Orchestration automates workflow, which has various individual subtasks, and it also acts as an integrator of automation. It ensures complete maintenance of all elements of workflow in an integrated and harmonized way.


Challenge in Workflow Orchestration

The big challenge of Workflow Orchestration is new technology. So it is a technological change. As it is now, it is challenging for the user to adopt it. It takes time to change the mindset. Because every new change needs risks, this is the big challenge of workflow orchestration to make people's mindset to adopt it.


Conclusion

Workflow Orchestration helps to automate workflows. It helps to streamline and optimize processes and workflows. Organizations can use their workforce to focus on other tasks rather than on those that are manual and repetitive. Adopting workflow orchestration can help the organization to work effectively and efficiently. Workflow orchestration helps to increase the Return on Investment and revenue.

Cloud Orchestration vs Automation
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