5 things you need to know about Camunda 8
Today, Camunda enjoys a stable position on the market. Its beginnings go back to 18 March 2013 when the platform was first released as open-source software and made available to a wide audience. Ever since, its owners (a German company of the same name) have never stopped upgrading the platform, continually adding new functionalities and enhancing old ones. Today, Camunda is one of the most popular and frequently used BPM engines, with thousands of users and hundreds of deployments all over the world.
On 12 April 2022, Camunda announced breaking news: the release of a brand-new version of its platform, Camunda 8, now called the Universal Process Orchestrator. Its publishers decided to rise to the challenge of modern business demands, which include essential aspects such as software performance, availability and scalability. The new version of Camunda allows you to manage different types of business processes, including workflows, decisions and event-driven processes. It can be integrated with various systems, which means it is able to manage business processes at different organisational levels, regardless of process type and technologies employed.
The new version features a brand-new process engine, Zeebe (a cutting-edge cloud-native solution).
Camunda 8. New components
Camunda 8 consists of several types of components:
- Modeller (BPMN and DMN process diagram modelling and deployment),
- Tasklist (human workflow management),
- Operate (process issue monitoring, analysis and troubleshooting),
- Optimise (using process data to analyse areas in need of improvement, e.g. identifying bottlenecks).
- Workflow Engine, powered by Zeebe (a process engine responsible for wide-scale process automation),
- Decision Engine (a decision engine that helps automate business process decisions),
- Helm charts (files for app deployment process automation in Kubernetes),
- Connectors (software components that enable the integration of various systems, databases, apps, etc.).
1. Camunda Zeebe – a new process engine
The biggest difference between Camunda 7 and Camunda 8 is the new process engine, known as Zeebe. The engine was designed for horizontal scaling, which means it can be easily adapted to growing business needs and demands. It supports large and complex business processes, ensures greater reliability and shows better performance in distributed environments.
Zeebe is based on an event-driven architecture (EDA), which means that business processes are executed based on event flows, rather than a strict sequential process. This allows you to easily add or remove cluster nodes, and business processes will be automatically assigned to available nodes. This flexible horizontal scaling model allows you to ensure high availability, performance and scalability, which are of key importance to complex business processes.
Zeebe’s architecture consists of three main elements:
- Zeebe Broker — the central server, responsible for business process management and communication with other servers in the cluster. It can support many thousand business processes at a time, which makes it horizontally scalable;
- Worker — an app server launched on machines where process tasks are executed. Workers download workloads from the Zeebe Broker, process them and then return the results to the broker;
- Client — a client app used for modelling, launching and monitoring business processes. Clients communicate with the Zeebe broker via the gRPC protocol, which ensures short delays and high performance.
Zeebe Broker and Workers can be launched in Docker containers or as cloud apps, which enables the Zeebe process engine to be easily deployed and scalable in different environments.
2. Camunda Decision Engine – a new decision engine
The Camunda Decision Engine is one of the most important new functionalities in Camunda 8, which allows the process engine to be integrated with the DMN (Decision Model and Notation) decision engine. It was added as a new BPMN engine module and integrated with DMN 1.3 engine, allowing you to model and execute complex business decisions, based on rules and input data, analysed in real-time.
The Decision Engine in Camunda 8 automatically triggers DMN models directly from the level of BPMN processes and feeds them with input data. In response, the DMN engine selects the best decision rules to match input data and returns the results to the BPMN process. As a consequence, business decisions can be made in a way that is faster, more effective and less prone to human error.
Another important element of the decision engine is a built-in DMN Simulator, which allows you to test out DMN models before you deploy them. You can simulate various business scenarios and see what decisions the DMN engine would take, enabling you to understand your business processes better and optimise them accordingly.
3. Camunda 8 – no database
In previous versions of Camunda, the BPMN engine featured a database that stored information about business processes, workloads, task history, etc. Camunda 8 no longer requires a traditional relational database. In the new architecture, data on business processes and process instances are stored in the so-called Event Store, which is a special repository of events saved in a chronological sequence. Event Store keeps data about any changes in business processes, and the events are used to create the current state of the process.
Shifting to a no-database architecture allows you to boost your flexibility and scalability, because you no longer need to maintain and optimise a traditional database. What’s more, thanks to the Event Store, you can easily scale up your processes in Camunda 8, which allows greater loads to be supported and increase performance.
4. Cloud-native deployment
Camunda 8 was designed as a cloud-native solution, which means it is adapted to operating in the cloud and uses many of its functionalities. Here are just some of the features that make Camunda 8 a cloud-native solution:
- Flexibility. Camunda 8 is easily scalable, which means it can be adapted to different workloads and data volumes;
- Statelessness. In the new version of Camunda, the state does not need to be stored between requests, which makes it easy to launch in containers;
- Microservices. The platform consists of multiple microservices, which can be launched independently (this also facilitates scaling);
- Event-driven architecture. Camunda 8 uses an event-driven architecture, which means it can be integrated with other services and systems;
- Container support. The platform was designed to operate in containers (e.g. Docker and Kubernetes), which makes it easy to deploy in the cloud.
5. Camunda 8 licence changesy
The new version of Camunda comes with important licencing model changes. Until now, with Camunda 7 Community, you could use the BPM engine and components (Tasklist, Cockpit, Admin) both in the testing and the production environment. Of course, the components had certain functional limitations, which made it more difficult to use Camunda in production, but it was still possible to do so.
In Camunda 8 Community, additional components (such as Tasklist and Operate, which replaced Cockpit and Optimise) may only be used outside of the production environment. The rules for using the BPM engine remain unchanged. What does that mean in practice?
Unfortunately, in order to use Camunda 8 Community Edition in a production environment and enjoy its high-performance BPM engine, you will need to buy a Camunda Enterprise licence or look for alternatives to the above-mentioned components.