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What is Cloud Automation?

Austin Fuller

6 min read

Last updated on July 19th, 2022 at 11:38am

Cloud automation refers to the processes and tools that reduce or eliminate manual efforts to deploy and manage cloud computing workloads and services.

In contrast to operating in a traditional data center environment, automation is essential to leverage cloud infrastructure successfully to receive the full benefits of the cloud, such as cost transparency and efficiency, scalability, and greater security. It can include tasks such as automated storage and backups, managing security and compliance, financial management, changing configurations and settings, and deploying code.

In addition to deploying cloud resources and services, automation tools can also be used to optimize the performance of the cloud environment by reducing the need for IT teams to perform repetitive tasks or make decisions about capacity or performance in real-time. Automation, when properly implemented, can maximize your budget and your resources.

What are Examples of Cloud Automation?

Whether in the cloud or a traditional data center, deploying and operating enterprise workloads is time-consuming and complicated. The significant difference in the cloud is that it offers “unlimited” scalability; manually performing tasks can reach a scale that makes it no longer feasible to perform without automation. These management tasks can involve repetitive tasks, such as:

  • Creating users and granting them permissions.
  • Sizing, provisioning, and configuring resources such as virtual machines (VMs).
  • Invoking virtual networks.
  • Monitoring and managing availability and performance.

Although each of these repetitive and manual processes is effective, they are inefficient and often fraught with errors. Errors mean taking time to troubleshoot and remediate the issue, which delays the workload's availability. Mistakes can lead to security misconfigurations that expose sensitive information and put the organization at risk.

Cloud automation eliminates these repetitive and manual processes to deploy and manage workloads. To properly automate tasks in the cloud, an IT team needs to use orchestration and automation tools that run on top of its environment.

Cloud Automation Benefits

Employing automation in the cloud can be difficult but comes with a host of benefits essential for realizing the full potential of the cloud within organizations of all sizes.

Faster, More Secure, and Scalable than Manual Processes

Cloud automation enables IT teams, freeing them from repetitive and manual administrative tasks, to focus on more meaningful work that aligns closer with an organization's business needs, such as integrating higher-level cloud services or developing new product features instead of being bogged down by manual provisioning and configuration. Cloud automation also helps reduce manual processes and delivers infrastructure resources faster.

Cloud automation significantly benefits software development teams operating under the continuous deployment strategy or working within the DevOps paradigm. Continuous deployment aims to automate the deployment pipeline to increase the frequency of updates to applications. Proper automation can enable development teams to deploy automatically to a preconfigured cloud-based IT environment, driving innovation and more frequent deployments.

Eliminate Shadow IT

The accessibility and scalability of the cloud mean that the procurement and provisioning of potentially costly cloud resources and services are only a credit card purchase away. The lack of proper governance, orchestration and automation in the cloud can lead to long delays in the delivery of needed resources. This causes employees to go outside of the corporate IT policies.

These “shadow” resources exist outside of the governance and management of the corporate IT structure and, as such, are not subject to the proper controls and policies to ensure their security and compliance, posing a risk to the organization.

Proper automation and orchestration can be implemented to create a self-service structure for requests that help streamline the process of obtaining new cloud accounts, environments, and other resources required to perform job functions.

Prevent Zombie Cloud Infrastructure

When an organization loses track of any given cloud resources, the result is “zombie cloud infrastructure.” Zombie infrastructure consists of cloud assets that have been forgotten by the organization that purchased them. These cloud instances are active and accruing monthly costs but are unused, resulting in a complete waste of the spending on these assets.

Cloud automation can identify zombie infrastructure and automatically terminate it to curtail wasted spending.

Why do we need cloud automation?

As virtualization and cloud computing continue to rise in popularity, the required tasks to manage cloud environments multiply, as does the workload for internal teams. Manually scaling, provisioning, configuring resources, setting up virtual machines, and monitoring performance is repetitive, inefficient, and leaves the environment vulnerable to errors from mistakes made during manual completion. Modern technology stacks are vast and dynamic, with many different moving parts. Operating them manually prevents you from receiving the full benefits of the cloud's agility and scalability.

Cloud automation enables the infrastructure and the people working in your cloud. Cloud automation removes repetitive tasks for developers, security personnel, and IT engineers to perform more critical initiatives instead of spending time performing repetitive administrative tasks. Cloud automation helps organizations realize the full benefit of the cloud by empowering their people to move farther and faster to transform their business.

What is cloud orchestration?

Cloud orchestration arranges and coordinates automation to produce a consolidated process or workflow. Many IT operations organizations implement cloud automation in an ad hoc or myopic fashion. This creates automation siloes that fail to benefit the broader organization or contribute to a larger strategy. Cloud orchestration is the systematic approach to maximize the effectiveness of the benefits of cloud automation.

What's the difference between Cloud Automation and Cloud Orchestration?

Cloud automation and orchestration are different yet complementary practices to realizing the full benefits of the cloud. Orchestration is never entirely manual, and automated tasks are vital to effective orchestration.

Cloud automation comprises various steps and processes to deploy and manage workloads in the cloud with minimal or no human intervention. Cloud orchestration describes how an administrator arranges and coordinates those automated tasks to occur at specific times, under particular conditions, and to produce the desired outcome.

Together, automation and orchestration create new possibilities and help to eliminate tedious, manual grunt work that usually accompanies IT and DevOps.

Cloud Automation & Orchestration from Kion

Cloud automation and orchestration are one of the three pillars of Kion. Kion helps you automate the cloud lifecycle while delivering visibility and transparency for all your users by assisting organizations in managing and controlling their cloud environment, ensuring teams get the business value of the cloud without sacrificing security and compliance or incurring substantial cost overruns.

We automate cloud activities from account spin-up to retirement. Tasks that took weeks now take minutes, giving practitioners time to focus on more value-add activities. To help you start correctly from day 1 in the cloud, Kion automates the provisioning of accounts with the proper controls around allowed services and budget. For example, when a budget threshold is approached, a security policy exemption is requested, or a decommissioning request is received, Kion can automatically respond - freezing spending or initiating a workflow.

These are just some ways Kion can orchestrate automation to eliminate manual tasks in the cloud. Kion can deliver a self-service provisioning experience for your users, easy-to-apply boundaries for admins, and grant the power of automation to all your cloud users.

Automation & Orchestration is just one of the three pillars of Kion, along with Financial Management and Continuous Compliance, which comprises the three pillars of cloud enablement. If you’d like to learn more about how you can automate various facets of your cloud environment, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts.

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About the Author

Austin Fuller

Austin is the Director of Product Marketing at Kion.

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