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What is Orchestration and Choreography in ITSM? - Part 1
Kalyan Kumar Chief Technology Officer and Head, Ecosystems | August 12, 2016

Information technology as a dynamic industry has developed its own extensive lexicon with an even larger proliferation of acronyms. When everyday language is employed to explain niche concepts in IT, a deeper understanding is required to articulate the meaning being conveyed. The same can be said of orchestration and choreography, two otherwise innocuous words in everyday life, which belies a crucial significance in IT operations.

In this paper we shall provide our interpretation of these two terminologies and its related concepts. We will also provide our opinion on their functional importance i.e. what functions they represent and what purposes they achieve in modern-day IT and business operations and service management. We shall attempt to maintain the integrity of the original dictionary meaning of these words in our definition.

What is Choreography?

Choreography is a matter of composing the sequence of steps and moves for a dance that can be performed autonomously by an individual dancer in the group. The choreographer does not actually control or direct the dancer during runtime performances. The onus of producing the desired effect is not on the choreographer but on the individual performer. Choreography, in the context of IT, is thus a plan and control of operations in an autonomous manner where individual objects of control (task or process or service) interact and synchronize with each other according to sequences designed and learned in earlier stages of the operation. The onus of producing the desired outcome remains on individual element (task, process or service).

What is Orchestration?

Orchestration is the arrangement and directing of musical scores to produce the desired melody. The orchestrator assigns the different musical instruments and corresponding musical notes to individual musicians. The onus of producing the desired effect is on the orchestrator, not on the individual performers. In the context of ITSM, orchestration is the coordination and direction of the operation in an autocratic manner. The onus of delivering the desired outcome lies with the orchestrator.

The perfect example of Choreography and orchestration working in tandem can be seen in every Bollywood song, where music and dance just blends together perfectly.

The following table is a summary of the differences between the two concepts:


Related definitions

What is Process Automation?

A business process or an IT process which can be executed without human intervention. This is very common in all ITSM these days and there are built-in features in all ITSM tools for notifications, approvals, assignment, provisioning etc.

What is Task Automation?

Task automation is the execution of a discrete task in a process. For example purging a log file, deleting the history on log out etc.

Process orchestration vs. task automation

Processes encompass a value chain, which has many touch points within the enterprise IT landscape. The concept of BPM (business process management) has been prevalent in the business integration layer. We see the application of the same concept but in a more agile and integration-oriented play within the service integration domain. Process orchestration enables integration of multiple process areas and function areas across the extended enterprise to allow seamless flow of operational pipeline across multiple providers. Process orchestration focuses in “what”. It is focused on results or outcome of the value chain. With the advent of complex architectures like Cloud OS, Software defined data centers, etc., we feel that having a domain specific orchestrator and an enterprise Process Orchestrator connected to a Core ITSM system will be essential for service integration. Task automation is focused on sequencing of activities/procedures required to achieve the output, which is the how. Multiple outputs might be part of a larger outcome. Successful task automation doesn’t imply successful process orchestration.

Task automation visibility to the enterprise process orchestration is the key outcome of this integration.

Part 2