Camunda Leverages Kubernetes to Push BPM to the Cloud

Camunda today unfurled a beta edition of a business process management (BPM) platform accessed via the cloud that the company developed using microservices running atop Kubernetes clusters, which enables organizations to create custom workflows capable of responding to events in near real time.

Announced at the CamundaCon 2019 conference, Camunda Cloud is a multi-tenant platform that provides enough isolation to enable each customer to customize workflows without having to set up their own IT environment to run Camunda BPM software.

Camunda CEO Jakob Freund says legacy BPM platforms are notoriously inflexible. Organizations are forced to resort to hard-coded workflows or deploy software on top of a BPM platform to build custom workflows using, for example, low-code application development tools. Those approaches add additional costs in the form of both software and the development teams needed to master those tools, he says.

The core open source Camunda platform provides built-in workflow capabilities based on a cloud-native workflow engine dubbed Zeebe that is built on top of Kubernetes. That engine is extended using the Cawemo workflow modeling tool. Camunda also provides access to an Operate monitoring tool to provide IT teams with visibility into the environment.

Because the Camunda platform is based on microservices, it’s now possible to leverage Zeebe to respond to events in near real-time. That capability is critical because modern digital business processes require organizations to provide visibility into workflow processes to see, for example, where orders are in transit. Organizations can invest in building or maintaining their own platform to provide that capability or now leverage a highly customizable BPM platform that is accessed in the cloud much like any application, says Freund.

BPM platforms have been around for a long time. But setting them up in on-premises IT environments has been both expensive and time-consuming. Those legacy BPM platforms also are typically built on top of a batch-mode processing model that doesn’t allow organizations to incorporate events in near real-time, says Freund, noting without that capability, updates to business processes typically take 24 hours or more.

As organizations seek to modernize their business processes, it’s clear other providers of BPM platforms will be reengineering their offerings to incorporate microservices based on Kubernetes. As a startup, Camunda is now benefiting from its decision to incorporate Kubernetes within an open source that platform to disrupt established commercial BPM platforms—a move it is now following up with a managed cloud service. In fact, Camunda already counts 24 Hour Fitness, AT&T, Lufthansa Technik and Zalando among hundreds of customers paying for support.

It remains to be seen to what degree providing a cloud service will expand the Camunda customer base. However, many organizations have historically preferred to extend an application platform rather than build custom systems from the ground up. The challenge now is determining to what degree the Camunda BPM platform will address the most common business processes in a way that still enables organizations to differentiate themselves by customizing as they best see fit.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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