In this blog series, we highlight the customers who have chosen to utilize Camunda Platform 8 and explore the challenges those companies are attempting to overcome using process orchestration. For the latest installment of Why Camunda 8, we spoke with R-KOM, a telecommunications company based in Regensburg, Germany.

When R-KOM was founded in 1997, its shareholders pooled their telecommunications infrastructure, which had evolved over decades with utility networks for water, electricity, and gas. Initially, R-KOM’s services were limited to business and the public sector, but now it has developed further in line with demand. Over the years, the company’s high-performance infrastructure and a broad range of products have grown.

Today, R-KOM has a number of city networks in Eastern Bavaria (Germany), which are connected to form a regional network. These networks consist of fiber optic cables for high-speed transmission and a large number of connection points to national/international fixed networks. R-KOM focuses on long-term success and continuously invests in the expansion of its own telecommunications infrastructure.

R-KOM has been utilizing Camunda since the beginning of 2021, and at the beginning of 2022, the team decided to migrate from Camunda 7 to Camunda 8. We spoke with R-KOM’s head of process management, Thomas Kiefer, to learn more about the motivations behind the migration. 

Tell us about your use case. What is the problem you’re hoping to solve with Camunda 8?

Thomas Kiefer: “We are trying to automate the service production of our internet, telephony, and television products as much as possible in order to achieve full automation.

“We have a colorful bouquet of use cases, with a total of 200-250 different workflows. A few examples are customer onboarding, i.e. the setup of different products, and the coordination of service calls or additional services such as address changes. In the future, we also want to be able to automate services for problem-solving in the event of outages.

“The biggest challenge from a process perspective that all these use cases have in common is that many different systems, and also many people, are involved in the processes. Additionally, the event that triggers the process can come in from different systems and at very different times.”

Which options did you evaluate to solve your problem?

Thomas Kiefer: “First, in 2020, we looked for replacements for our in-house developed workflow engine, as it was 20 years old and could no longer meet today’s automation requirements. 

“In total, four options were evaluated. In the end, the decision was between Activiti and Camunda. We already had Activiti on our radar, as some interfaces were already running on it and we had experience with it.” 

What were the key decision criteria you had when evaluating options, and why did you choose Camunda 8?

Thomas Kiefer: “We chose Camunda for many reasons. Firstly, because of the BPMN standard, but also because of the proximity to Activiti, as our developers were already familiar with it. However, for user interventions, i.e. for user tasks, Activiti did not work as well as we would have liked. and since it was very important for us to be able to include manual interventions in our workflows, Camunda was a natural fit.

“We then started to develop in Camunda 7, but soon after we received the news that Camunda 8 will be introduced. Truthfully, we didn’t know what to think about Camunda 8 at first. But since we were still quite early in our development cycle – we had only rolled out three processes – it was a very practical decision to migrate. If we continued to build architecture in Camunda 7, we would migrate it to Camunda 8 sooner or later anyway. To minimize the effort in the coming years, we thought it would be better to go right along and develop in Camunda 8.”

Why did you decide to go SaaS? What are the benefits compared to self-management?

Thomas Kiefer: “Actually, we never wanted to switch to SaaS because it is company policy to have the critical infrastructure in-house. But since we couldn’t have managed our own Kubernetes administration due to limited resources, we first considered buying in support. But then we would have another service provider on board. With Camunda, we get everything from a single provider, and since they have a vested interest in keeping things running, we don’t have to worry about the SaaS infrastructure and administration ourselves.

“After more detailed evaluations, the technical department at our company was very enthusiastic, and from an architectural point of view, we didn’t find any potential issues. After further risk assessment, there were also no more objections from a data protection point of view. Another advantage was that it would have taken much more time to set up our own infrastructure. With Camunda 8 SaaS, we could start right away. 

“And so, we decided to go the SaaS path together with Camunda. As far as we can tell, it’s been the right decision, simply because it simplifies a lot of things.”

What’s your advice for anyone evaluating Camunda? Any helpful lessons you’ve learned and would like to share?

Thomas Kiefer: “We are very satisfied with Camunda in general, with Camunda 8 we are currently in the migration and implementation process. Camunda is a super partner in this process, we always have friendly contact persons and fast support. Also, the trainings have helped us a lot. 

“One thing we underestimated a bit is the effort it has taken to implement Camunda. But that is more due to internal structures that play into the overall project than to the software itself.”

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In this new blog series, we explore the reasons why customers are migrating to Camunda 8. For our first installment of Why Camunda 8, we talked to Gruner + Jahr, one of the largest premium magazine publishers in Europe.

G+J includes such established (German) print and digital brands as STERN, GEO, BRIGITTE, ESSEN & TRINKEN, and SCHÖNER WOHNEN, as well as younger brands such as CHEFKOCH, BARBARA, BEEF, 11FREUNDE. In addition to the numerous print and digital media offerings, G+J offers products and licenses such as the SCHÖNER WOHNEN collection. The digital business contributes more than half of revenues and is exhibiting continued strong growth. Indeed, the company’s digital products lead the rankings in all publishing segments, from news through to people and living. 

G+J has been part of RTL Deutschland since January 1, 2022. Together with G+J, RTL Deutschland is Germany’s leading entertainment company, spanning all types of media: TV and streaming, print and digital, radio and podcasts. It is home to some of the country’s strongest media brands, from RTL to STERN, BRIGITTE to VOX, and GEO to Ntv. 

For this interview, we talked to Thorben Heins, software architect at G+J.

Tell us about your use case. What is the problem you’re hoping to solve with Camunda 8?

Thorben Heins: “Our main focus is to orchestrate processes that span a wide spectrum of services like SAP, Sharepoint, Outlook, Salesforce, ServiceNow and any (micro)services, including RPA bots. We thus create a bracket that makes the state of the process visible in a very heterogeneous landscape. Coming from an EAI (Enterprise application integration) background based on distributed Apache Camel microservices, we also use Camunda 8 to monitor complex integrations that typically tend to provide us with maintenance issues. Operate helps us to quickly pinpoint issues in these cases.”

Which options did you evaluate to solve your problem?

Thorben Heins: “Before we considered introducing a workflow engine to get a better overview of business processes, we had our logging and metrics for infrastructure and business KPIs to gain an insight of the state of our processes. We quickly identified BPMN as a standard we would like to use, as it was already being used for documentation purposes. Based on that we compared workflow engines that supported this standard.”

What were the key decision criteria you had when evaluating options, and why did you decide for Camunda?

Thorben Heins: “When introducing new tools into our IT environment, we apply an enterprise architecture management mechanism and create a so-called solution architecture template, where we look at the solutions we might consider including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. In addition, we also estimate the costs over the next years and match the alternatives with our IT principles like usability, micro rather than monolith and service continuity. 

Besides looking at these facts and figures, we usually conduct PoCs (proof of concepts) to gain deeper insights before recommending one of the alternatives. It was really easy based on the Helm charts and is even easier now when using the SaaS offering for evaluation (which was not available at the time we evaluated). 

Camunda convinced us in this process. Their announcement of the Camunda 8 SaaS offering was a big factor in our decision-making process. Among the available alternatives on the market, we identified Camunda 8 to be the best match for us. The cloud-based modeling collaboration tools also suit us, since everyone is working remotely these days. The fact that Camunda offers free variants and pushes the open source community also convinced us as we have a history of building our solutions based on such stacks.”

Why did you decide to go SaaS? What’s the benefit compared to self-managed?

Thorben Heins: “It is in line with our IT strategy that we do not have to take over the operation of such systems ourselves.”

What’s your advice for anyone evaluating Camunda? Any helpful lessons you’ve learned and would like to share?

Thorben Heins: “Take the opportunity and register for a free trial to get hands-on experience with your first model. Join the community (forum, slack channel, meetups, conferences) and ask your peers what their real-life experience is and how they tackled obstacles.”

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