ProcessMaker’s workflow journey

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If you’re a workflow and BPM technology insider, you’ll be aware of a number of open-source technology providers, and names like Red Hat and Camunda might spring to mind. You might not necessarily know ProcessMaker – a company originally founded as Colosa, with its core product, also called ProcessMaker, first launched in 2008. It’s certainly had a fairly low profile in the US and Europe for most of its history, but that doesn’t necessarily mean very much: ProcessMaker now has around 350 paying customers and employs around 150 staff.

The core ProcessMaker BPM technology product has flourished in diverse situations and locations partly because it’s not only open-source technology; it’s also implemented using the commodity LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) technology stack – so it can be understood, extended and hosted by members of the huge, global web developer community. There have been over 1m downloads of the product, but ProcessMaker is also available as a hosted service; it’s been offered since 2008.

ProcessMaker has historically been adopted by mid-market and large companies, and some of its clients work with it extensively – for example an international automotive supplier runs 300 processes on ProcessMaker with around 80,000 cases per month, and an internation telecoms company runs over 50 core processes on ProcessMaker with over 20,000 cases monthly. However, most of its revenue actually comes from third-party software vendors (e.g. SugarCRM, Ellucian) licensing the product to embed in their applications.

Now ProcessMaker is taking another step on this journey, and readying a new workflow technology offering specifically designed to be embedded in other applications (CRM, ERP, SCM, ECM, and so on).

Processmaker.io is a workflow service, delivered as a cloud-managed service on AWS (US East today, with more to follow) via a REST API. It’s BPMN2 compliant; the company is working with other modelling tools to ensure that models created in popular tools can be used with no change. ProcessMaker is also working on its own web-based, embeddable workflow modelling tool, though – and whereas this tool will save models as BPMN2 XML, the aim is to serve relatively non-technical users and scenarios with a high-level modelling experience. This component will be open-sourced, though the core runtime service won’t be.

Processmaker.io has already been verified to perform millions of transactions per second. It’s currently available as an alpha release, but when commercially available, pricing will be based on monthly BPMN token transitions (costing between 1 and 2 cents per transition, depending on volume).

The evolution of ProcessMaker’s technology has some parallels with what we’re seeing elsewhere with Camunda’s zeebe.io project; although there are differences, both are exploring new use cases for embedded workflow capabilities, being brought about by the shift to the cloud and organisations’ digital transformation agendas.

This is a fast-changing space; even Netflix is getting some airtime. We’re watching with great interest.

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