6 Differences between Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor

Kevin Roy
Head of Product Marketing
May 28, 2024
Reading Time: 6 mins

Conductor is a workflow orchestration engine for creating complex, durable, or long-running executions across distributed components. Originally built at Netflix by its platform team, Conductor powered its astronomical growth as the leading video-streaming service. In 2016, Conductor was made open-source and has seen massive adoption across sectors, with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s using it for their mission-critical workflows.

In 2021, Orkes was founded in order to deliver enterprise-grade Conductor service so that developer teams can focus on scaling with Conductor without worrying about managing its infrastructure. Orkes took over the project as the official maintainer of Conductor project in 2023, launching Conductor OSS as the new open-source repository on GitHub.

A common question arises: “What is the difference between Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor?” In this article, we will explore the six key differences between the two Conductor versions and which solution is the most suitable option for you.

Sign up for our upcoming webinar: Conductor OSS vs. Enterprise Orkes Conductor: How To Identify What Solution Is Right For Your Business.

First, let’s take a look at Conductor’s core features in both open-source and enterprise versions.

Conductor’s core features

Conductor decouples workflow definitions from its execution policies and its runtime implementation, so that you can quickly build complex code-centric processes that are durable, dynamic, and traceable.

Diagram of code operations without Conductor versus with Conductor.
Conductor decouples your core business logic from other infrastructure and plumbing code, so you can build durable and fast-changing workflows without breaking it.

Developer-first experience

As a workflow orchestration engine, Conductor allows you to easily define your workflows and execution policies and then handles the tricky intricacies of its runtime behavior for you. This means that enterprises can focus on building out their core business value without spending hours creating resilient plumbing code to connect components, trying to avoid breaking things when changing their workflow logic, or tracing where and why the process failed or terminated.

Language agnostic

Conductor is language agnostic, so developers can code in Java, Python, CSharp, Golang, or any language that best suits the task at hand. Using Conductor means that you can wire up a Python worker function with an SQL expression or an HTTP call into the same workflow or process without the extra work of connecting all these different bits together.

Easily build anything and scale

These workflows can be easily built in two ways:

  • In code, using Conductor’s SDK clients and APIs
  • In the UI-based visual editor

With Conductor’s decoupled architecture, users can change up and deploy their workflows at any time without breaking existing runtime executions.

Conductor enables you to build workflows using a wide range of tasks, providing speed and scalability in any use case:

  • Build microservice-based applications in multiple languages
  • Set up long-running processes that persist across months or years, such as billing and subscription management, shipping and logistics, or infrastructure upgrades
  • Orchestrate pipelines for intelligence and operation-heavy domains like DevOps, DataOps, MLOps, or SecOps

Observe, troubleshoot, and test

Conductor encodes durability for all its workflows while removing the complexities involved in maintaining a durable execution state. Using Conductor, all users not only get full visibility into the workflow progress and outcome but are also equipped to test and troubleshoot their code without wasting time.

Conductor OSS vs Orkes Conductor

At its core, both Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor are powerful orchestration engines that can streamline and accelerate complex processes. However, both versions are equipped with varying features. Let’s explore the differences between Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor.

1. Extensive tasks and integrations

Both versions offer a wide range of in-built tasks so that developers can build with ease. With these tasks, Conductor executes common application-building components such as HTTP calls and database operations, minimizing the need to write microservices.

Orkes Conductor offers an even wider range of tasks in its enterprise version compared to the open-source version. From webhooks and human task forms to AI agent tasks, Orkes Conductor provides much more flexibility in orchestrating diverse processes.

Infographic of tasks available in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor. In both: Worker Task, Event Task, HTTP Task, Inline Task, JSON JQ Transform Task, Switch, Do While, Wait, Dynamic Task, Set Variable, Sub Workflow, Terminate Workflow, Terminate, Fork Join, Dynamic Fork, Join. In Orkes only: HTTP Poll Task, Business Rule Task, Wait for Webhook Task, JDBC Task, Update Secret Task, Get Signed JWT Task, Update Task, Start Workflow Task, Human Task, Get Workflow, LLM Text Complete, LLM Generate Embeddings, LLM Get Embeddings, LLM Store Embeddings, LLM Search Index, LLM Index Document, Get Document, LLM Index Text, LLM Chat Complete, OpsGenie Task, Query Processor.
Comparison of tasks available in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor.

Compared to Conductor OSS, Orkes Conductor also provides dozens of integrations out of the box with large language models, vector databases, message queues, and more.

Infographic of integrations available in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor. In both: AMQP, AWS SQS, Confluent Kafka, Apache Kafka, NATS Messaging. In Orkes only: Azure Open AI, Open AI, Cohere, Google Vertex AI, Google Gemini AI, Anthropic Cloud, Hugging Face, AWS Bedrock Anthropic, AWS Bedrock Cohere, AWS Bedrock Llama2, AWS Bedrock Titan, Mistral, Pinecone, Weaviate, Amazon MSK, Azure Service Bus, GCP Pub Sub, IBM MQ, PostgreSQL.
Comparison of integrations available in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor, with more integrations to come.

With Orkes, you can use Conductor to handle more complex workflows such as:

  • Streamlining human-driven processes, such as onboarding, claims processing, or alert handling
  • Building generative AI capabilities with AI agent tasks, prompt templates, and integrations

2. Visual workflow editor

In Conductor, users can view their workflows as flow diagrams for ease of visualization. Orkes Conductor takes that feature a step further, allowing users to build and edit workflows directly in a visual editor.

Workflow visualization screen in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor.
In Orkes Conductor, users can build and edit workflow directly in a visual editor. In Conductor OSS, the visual diagram is simply a static representation of the workflow, which is built in code.

3. Robust by design

Conductor’s architecture, where tasks are indexed in persistent queues, means that it is capable of handling high workloads with no downtime. Conductor is also equipped to handle large volumes of parallel tasks, even dynamically at runtime. With Orkes, you can even execute up to 60,000 parallel forks in a single workflow execution.

Crucially, Orkes guarantees up to 99.99% availability for all its Conductor servers and provides auto-failover so that you can run mission-critical workflows with high availability needs.

Comparison table of Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor for throughput, parallel forks, and availability. Conductor OSS can execute ~100 tasks per second, while Orkes can execute 1,000+ tasks per second. Orkes can also handle 60,000 parallel forks in one execution and has up to 99.99% availability.
Abbreviated comparison of performance in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor.

4. Enterprise-grade security

Conductor OSS is a self-managed platform and has limited security features. On the other hand, Orkes runs Conductor on SOC 2 Type II certified infrastructure and has multi-layer threat mitigation policies, including code vulnerability scans, firewall, and DDoS protection.

Users can securely sign into Orkes Conductor using single sign-on (SSO) with any OAuth 2.0 provider and create workflows that securely pass sensitive data, like authentication tokens, using secret variables.

Furthermore, with its fully-featured role-based access controls (RBAC), Orkes Conductor provides granular control over authorized access to workflows, tasks, secrets, AI prompts, and more.

5. Heightened observability

By default, Conductor provides visibility into each workflow execution, including its input/output parameters, starting timestamp, number of retries, reason for failure, and so on. These parameters empower developers to quickly troubleshoot workflow executions and make the required adjustments.

Workflow introspection screen in Conductor OSS versus Orkes Conductor.
Conductor provides visibility into the execution state, with Orkes Conductor offering more viewing options.

Using Orkes, developers can also leverage its metrics dashboard for aggregated analytics and alerts on all workflow executions. In other words, users get key insights into cluster usage, workflow performance, and more, enabling them to quickly identify patterns and resolve bottlenecks.

6. Managed infrastructure

To start using Conductor, users must run and deploy it with the appropriate infrastructure, like Redis for persistent queue storage and Elasticsearch for indexing. For the open-source version, this underlying infrastructure has to be self-managed.

On the other hand, Orkes provides managed infrastructure services, with the flexibility to deploy and host Conductor on your preferred cloud provider (AWS, Azure, or GCP). Orkes handles the infrastructure set-up, maintenance, and upgrades so that users can focus on leveraging Conductor without the burden of operational challenges.

While both versions are built for performance, Orkes Conductor is deployed on infrastructure specially engineered for low latency, extra persistence, and high availability.

Which solution is right for my business?

Conductor OSS is a great starting point for getting into workflow orchestration. Compared to Orkes Conductor, Conductor OSS is a self-managed solution, which allows room for configuring a custom set-up for your Conductor cluster. At the same time, these operational costs can add up when running workloads at scale, making it more expensive to maintain and manage enterprise-ready Conductor clusters on your own.

On the other hand, Orkes Conductor is perfect for any organization that wants to accelerate their orchestration journey without its operational load of building infrastructure. With more enterprise-grade features and a managed infrastructure, using Conductor via Orkes will help slash the total cost of ownership while providing amplified support for building powerful workflows.

How can I switch from Conductor OSS to Orkes?

Both Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor run on the same architecture and core engine, so switching from the open-source version to enterprise or vice versa is simple.

All workflow definitions are stored as JSON, and Orkes will help you import them from your existing Conductor cluster into the new cluster.

Summary

As a workflow orchestration engine, Conductor is a powerful companion for all sorts of complex processes. Here are the key differences that give Orkes Conductor an edge over Conductor OSS:

  • A wider range of in-built tasks and integrations
  • Visual workflow editor for a more seamless experience
  • Increased robustness for higher workloads and service availability
  • Enterprise-grade security with SOC 2 Type II certification, secrets, SSO, and RBAC
  • Heightened execution observability, with insights from the metrics dashboard
  • Managed infrastructure with the cloud provider of your choice

Interested in trying Conductor? Orkes Cloud is a fully managed and hosted Conductor service that can scale seamlessly according to your needs. When you use Conductor via Orkes Cloud, your engineers don’t need to worry about setting up, tuning, patching, and managing high-performance Conductor clusters. Try it out with our 14-day free trial for Orkes Cloud.

Full comparison

For more information, check out the full comparison between Conductor OSS and Orkes Conductor. Orkes is also holding a webinar on 5 June 2024 to share more about picking the right orchestration solution for your organization. Register now.

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