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Rejoy Nair

In the first part of our Blog series, we discussed the need to pursue open-source alternatives for RPA.

Well, in this blog post, we review some of the most popular Open-Source RPA solutions. Furthermore, we‘ll follow it up with a discussion on other open-source RPA alternatives in our upcoming blogs series.

OpenRPA

The philosophical approach of OpenRPA is to combine the three: Systems, People, and things. By things here, we mean embedded systems, PLCs, newer protocols and technologies, and many such human-machine interfaces (HMI) that are part of the processes.

OpenRPA’s goal is to have an alternative to commercial software where the users can easily control their workflows, own their data, and all parts of the solution.

What is the Key Differentiator when it comes to Open Source RPA?

  • It makes use of OpenFlow - a mechanism to save and securely process an enormous amount of data. It is cloud-based and gives a comprehensive view of orchestrated bots.
  • It makes use of NodeRED - a powerful integration and automation system that talks to more than 15000 systems. This enables OpenRPA to be a Multi-user system, easy to save state, and easy to load-balance across multiple node-reds.

Architecture Overview

With OpenRPA, Robots can not only work offline but also be connected to an OpenFlow instance. OpenFlow is basically a couple of NodeRED installation and an API on top of a MongoDB instance, using RabbitMQ for scalability.

An RPA workflow can be initiated from NodeRED, OpenFlow, and OpenRPA as well. Robots can be used to control behavior inside NodeRED provided they are connected to an OpenFlow instance. From OpenFlow, one can control everything inside the robot i.e. OpenRPA activities and everything inside the NodeRED instance. NodeRED can be used to control the behavior of robots provided the robots are connected to the OpenFlow instance. This gives a lot of flexibility to developers to choose the platform to initiate and integrate their workflows.

How OpenFlow contributes to OpenRPA

  • Persistence, Recoverability, Resilience: The workflows that correspond to the bot (if persisted in its state) will be saved globally in the OpenFlow instance. If the robot is offline, the state can be persisted in a state machine. This means if a process faults, one just needs to install a new robot to continue from where the process had faulted. As we all know by now, that an OpenFlow is cloud-based hence the robot instance need not be device-dependent. The bot can begin from anywhere and there is no need for the persisting state in local files — MS Excel, MySQL, or PostgreSQL. This means even if the disk crashes, the process can be completed from another device.
  • OpenFlow is very scalable: It can be installed as a single node JS installation. All parts of the platform can be load balanced and it supports traffic shaping. Within no time you can create a setup that runs across several thousands of servers and six data centers easily. It’s a hyper-scalable solution that can run on low consumer hardware and big distributed systems across multiple data centers and take an enormous amount of load.
  • Multi-user support:: Multiple instances of OpenFlow can talk to each other. Not just that, OpenFlow can talk to an isolated instance of NodeRED too.

OpenRPA Interface

Unlike some of the other commercial platforms, OpenRPA lacks connectors that are available inside the designer interface. However, OpenFlow allows one to connect with the system using a NodeRED instance. Additionally, various nodes can be used to create an OpenFlow workflow on the OpenFlow designer interface.

The OpenFlow designer interface has a Palette available to install connectors to various systems. — SAP, SharePoint, Oracle, etc.

Also, AI integrations can be done from NodeRED and one can be connected to OpenAI, furthermore, the GPUs and CPUs of TensorFlow can be accessed from NodeRED.

Connectors for azure and 365, if not available on NodeRED, can be easily built on to integrate OpenRPA with the Microsoft technology stack.



Like some open-source successes, overtime, OpenRPA may be able to surpass the features, functionality, and quality of commercial products with more contributions from the developer community.

Rejoy Nair

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