Orchestration describes automated arrangement, coordination, and management of complex computer systems and services.
Orchestration and Automation: What is the Difference
For the longest time, it seemed the only thing any sysadmin cared about was automation. Recently, though, the mantra seems to have changed from automation to orchestration, leading many puzzled admins to wonder: “What’s the difference?”
The difference between automation and orchestration is primarily in intent and tooling. Technically, automation can be considered a subset of orchestration. While orchestration suggests many moving parts, automation usually refers to a singular task or a small number of strongly related tasks. Orchestration works at a higher level and is expected to make decisions based on changing conditions and requirements.
However, this view shouldn’t be taken too literally because both terms-automation and orchestration – do have implications when they’re used. The results of both are functionally the same: things happen without your direct intervention. But the way you get to those results, and the tools you use to make them happen, are different, or at least the terms are used differently depending on what tools you’ve used.
For instance, automation usually involves scripting, often in Bash or Python or similar, and it often suggests scheduling something to happen at either a precise time or upon a specific event. However, orchestration often begins with an application that’s purpose-built for a set of tasks that may happen irregularly, on demand, or as a result of any number of trigger events, and the exact results may even depend on a variety of conditions.
Decision Making and IT Orchestration
Automation suggests that a sysadmin has invented a system to cause a computer to do something that would normally have to be done manually. In automation, the sysadmin has already made most of the decisions on what needs to be done, and all the computer must do is execute a “recipe” of tasks.
Orchestration suggests that a sysadmin has set up a system to do something on its own based on a set of rules, parameters, and observations. In orchestration, the sysadmin knows the desired end result but leaves it up to the computer to decide what to do.
Seth Kenlon, opensource.com