What is it
Application orchestration, sometimes referred to as service orchestration, is the process of integrating two or more applications and/or services together in order to automate a process or synchronize data in real-time.
Point to point integration (P2Pi) is used most often though as the path of least resistance. The concern with point to point is that it will often lead to a complex tangled mess of application dependencies (referred as 'spaghetti code') that is very hard to manage, monitor and maintain. Application orchestrations approach a) decouples, applications from each other b) allows for capabilities for message routing, security, transformation and reliability and c) most importantly gives you the ability to manage and monitor the integrations centrally.
This is not Automation
Automation in applications are a stand-alone component. Application orchestration cannot exist though without automation to drive the tasks and events. While they are individual tools using different roles and functions, they are joined together in the orchestration equation. Once a business chooses an orchestration product, they will still need to perform automation via the provided tools in place or building on them. What is important to note is that adopting an orchestration platform will bring the automation tools into the final workflow for the application.
These workflows are critical to the application orchestration platform as they help to establish safeguards and checkpoints for a DevOps team in order to identify and remove missing steps and configuration issues in the application. When workers then apply orchestration to the workflow, they remove a part of the human element from the workflow. This will remove some of the risk of human error and allows for focus on more critical tasks and approvals in the workflow rather than being consumed with day-to-day tasks.
Most major software developments require some sort of application orchestration. This allows for quick integration with different applications increasing the rate of data manipulation while mediating message flow. Application orchestration is preferred as the proper approach over point to point integration as the integration logic is decoupled from the applications themselves and instead managed in a container that provides security and transaction management, reliability and monitoring/tracking capabilities.
IT is no longer relegated to a stand-alone island that operates independently. While a business support partner, IT is also a business driver that needs to take advantage of established business workflows and processes to better the organization. Automation was the first step-orchestration is the next step as IT continues to evolve and build on successful deployments.