Conductor

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Conductor is an orchestration engine that runs in the cloud.

Motivation

We built Conductor to help us orchestrate microservices based process flows at Netflix with the following features:

  • Allow creating complex process / business flows in which individual task is implemented by a microservice.
  • A JSON DSL based blueprint defines the execution flow.
  • Provide visibility and traceability into the these process flows.
  • Expose control semantics around pause, resume, restart, etc allowing for better devops experience.
  • Allow greater reuse of existing microservices providing an easier path for onboarding.
  • User interface to visualize the process flows.
  • Ability to synchronously process all the tasks when needed.
  • Ability to scale millions of concurrently running process flows.
  • Backed by a queuing service abstracted from the clients.
  • Be able to operate on HTTP or other transports e.g. gRPC.

Why not peer to peer choreography?

With peer to peer task choreography, we found it was harder to scale with growing business needs and complexities. Pub/sub model worked for simplest of the flows, but quickly highlighted some of the issues associated with the approach:

  • Process flows are “embedded” within the code of multiple application.
  • Often, there is tight coupling and assumptions around input/output, SLAs etc, making it harder to adapt to changing needs.
  • Almost no way to systematically answer “how much are we done with process X”?