In the realm (I think I say ‘realm’ a lot) of enterprise solution architecture, ensuring reliable and consistent transactions across multiple services or applications is a significant challenge. The saga pattern is a powerful solution to this problem, providing a way to manage distributed transactions without relying on things like traditional two-phase commits. This blog post will explore the saga pattern and compare a couple of key approaches to implementing it: process orchestration and process choreography.

What is the Saga Pattern?

The saga pattern breaks down a long-lived transaction into a series of smaller, manageable transactions. Each of these smaller transactions do something signification and can update the system. Other systems can be notified via the publication of an event, which triggers the next transaction in the saga. If any transaction fails, compensating transactions are executed to undo the changes made by the previous transactions, ensuring data consistency.

There are a couple of ways to manage/coordinate the various components of transactions into a larger ‘saga’.

Process Orchestration

Process orchestration involves a central orchestrator that manages the entire workflow of the saga. The orchestrator controls the sequence of transactions, handling their execution and managing compensations if needed. This approach centralizes the control logic, making it easier to understand and manage complex workflows.


  1. Centralized Control: The orchestrator provides a single point of control for the entire transaction, simplifying monitoring and debugging.
  2. Simplified Error Handling: Compensation logic is managed in one place, making it easier to handle failures and rollbacks.
  3. Easier Coordination: The orchestrator can manage dependencies and control the order of transactions efficiently.


  1. Single Point of Failure: The orchestrator can become a bottleneck or a single point of failure if not designed for high availability.
  2. Tightly Coupled: Services can become tightly coupled to the orchestrator, reducing the flexibility and scalability of the system. Very often, orchestrated systems rely on a team to manage the various process implementation which can create a team resource bottleneck.
  3. Complex Orchestrator Logic: The orchestrator’s logic can become complex as the number of services and transactions increases.
  4. Cost Usually software packages are purchased as orchestrators and these tools can be quite expensive. Also, the skills necessary to use and maintain these systems often rely on very expensive skillsets.

Process Choreography

Process choreography, on the other hand, is a decentralized approach where each service involved in the saga is responsible for executing its transaction and triggering the next step. There is no central controller; instead, services communicate through events to coordinate the workflow. These systems are often modeled as finite state machine.


  1. Decentralized Control: Each service is autonomous, reducing the risk of a single point of failure and improving system resilience.
  2. Loose Coupling: Services are loosely coupled, enhancing scalability and flexibility.
  3. Simplified Orchestrator: There is no need for a complex central orchestrator, which can simplify the system architecture.
  4. Flexible Technology Stack These systems can be constructed using almost any technology framework giving flexibility to the skillsets required.


  1. Complex Coordination: Managing the sequence of events and dependencies can be challenging, especially in complex workflows.
  2. Difficult Debugging: Tracking the flow of transactions and diagnosing issues can be harder without a central point of control.
  3. Increased Latency: Communication overhead between services can increase latency compared to a centralized orchestrator.

Choosing Between Orchestration and Choreography

The choice between orchestration and choreography depends on the specific requirements and constraints of your system:

  • Use Orchestration when you need centralized control, easier error handling, and simplified coordination of complex workflows. It’s particularly useful in scenarios where the transaction flow is intricate and requires tight control.
  • Use Choreography when you prioritize decentralization, resilience, and scalability. This approach is suitable for systems with simpler workflows and a need for higher autonomy among services.


The saga pattern is a vital tool for managing distributed transactions in modern distributed architectures. Both process orchestration and choreography offer unique advantages and trade-offs. By understanding these approaches, you can choose the one that best fits your system’s needs, ensuring reliable and consistent transactions while maintaining flexibility and scalability.