Cloud Automation Guide Part 1

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The potential of cloud automation is limitless, but some practices are better than others.

Automation is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on. People want to finish tasks quicker and in a more efficient manner. In the long run, you can easily save a lot of time and money by transitioning from manual work to automated work. This principle can apply to pretty much any industry or field. It especially applies to cloud computing. Cloud automation can be a lifesaver; it does all the work for you with little to no manual intervention. Lucky for you, I’ve written a guide on cloud automation, and this is the first part of that guide. Look out for the second and third parts in the future, you won’t want to miss reading those!

So, what can you expect in the first part of my ultimate guide on cloud automation? Well, you’ll learn about what cloud automation is, how it works, and its benefits. Let’s start with a definition!

What Is Cloud Automation?

Cloud automation is a process where you automate manual tasks that require cloud computing to increase the delivery speed of infrastructure resources. This can work on a self-service basis or by automating large repetitive business processes.

In general, you can divide cloud automation into 3 categories:

  1. Configuration
  2. Deployment
  3. Security

Depending on the type of company you own, different types of cloud automation would be beneficial. But, theoretically, the limits of this method aren’t clearly set. If a cloud process involves repetitive work by employees, or the system itself, then odds are you can automate it.

Good Platforms as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS) providers can assist in the creation of these solutions. In some cases, automation solutions might even come with the platform. In most cases, you would need to develop specialized custom solutions. 

Now that I explained what cloud automation is, let’s look at how it actually works!

How Does Cloud Automation Work?

Cloud automation relies on the fact that most of your company’s resources and information are cloud-based and categorized. Because of this, you have many easy-to-automate processes.

Automation can work with a trigger. For instance, an overseer would start the task automation, and then that task would have to get reviewed at a designated time later on. But, everything else would happen during downtime. This allows someone operating the system to leave it to work for itself and only reap the benefits.

Alternatively, you can also automate background processes. This allows you to better allocate resources and have better time management. This would include tasks such as:

  • Security checks
  • Updates
  • Backups
  • Syncing

As you may notice, none of these tasks are overly complex, but waiting for them to finish can be time-intensive. Using automation would mean less downtime for your employees that would otherwise need to wait for the tasks to finish before progressing.

Depending on the type of platform hosting your cloud server, many of these automation processes can be quite simple. A more complicated automation process might require an application programming interface (API) .

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The power of the cloud is intense!

In most cases, you can use cloud automation with relatively simple PHP scripts on platforms such as Microsoft Azure. The script will simply run predetermined tasks at a dedicated time after you pre program the tasks.

Or, you can use a special script or automation maker where the cloud administrator can set tasks, times, and options. These would be typically included with the server.

So far, you’ve learned about what cloud automation is and how it works, but what exactly are the benefits of this magnificent process? The next section has the answer!

What Are the 4 Benefits of Cloud Automation?

As is the case with all automation, cloud automation has multiple benefits depending on how you use it. But, because cloud computing allows for some special features, those benefits can get compounded through automation.

At the moment, you have 4 main benefits when it comes to cloud automation. Let’s talk about each benefit in more detail:

1. Reducing Labor Costs

The first and most obvious benefit is labor, and more specifically, the time management and cost associated with it. Many tasks out there take a lot of time to complete. You can easily use automation to eliminate any downtime of your employees. Overall, cloud automation is important when it comes to significantly reducing your hourly costs.

Here’s an example: Let’s say that a cybersecurity specialist needs to run a security check at your company. They’ll need to run anti-virus and anti-malware software for that. While these checks are running, the specialist doesn’t actually do anything and just stands there waiting for the checks to finish. With automation, a complete check runs before they even start!

2. Reducing Human Errors

Because employee tasks are so mundane, they’re more prone to human error and mistakes over time. By automating these tasks, the chance of a mistake gets reduced. If you have an error, it would clearly show once the operator tries to access the function. In turn, this allows your employees to run deeper checks and advanced tests.

You’ll especially notice this benefit over longer periods of time. For applications such as software deployment or development, small mistakes can accumulate and you might not even detect them or patch them in time. As a result, your costs will increase. You can completely avoid this problem with automation!

3. Standardizing Safe Testing and Modeling

You can automate a lot of software development tasks using cloud automation. In most cases, automation gets done in the same way as object-focused coding, where you’d make specific tools to standardize and simplify the code.

You can apply the same principle to testing and modeling, where you can do the checks automatically through predetermined parameters. You don’t even need the developer to run the tests directly. The system will notify the developer if it notices a flaw.

Some bugs will still make it past the checks, as that’s virtually impossible to avoid, but you’ll have significantly fewer bugs than you did before you started using automation.

4. Improving Task Efficiency

Last but not least, cloud automation improves task efficiency because it separates mundane tasks that can get automated from specialized ones that require oversight. With the inclusion of profile management automation, you can even automate the allocation of those specialized tasks.

While you can do task optimization in advance, you can also develop automation over time. This happens because you’ll notice which tasks can get automated and which type of profile management works best for you.

Image of strings of light fixtures illuminating a very high atrium.
When you have repetitive tasks, cloud automation is the way to go!

Now, you have an idea of what cloud automation is, how it works, and its benefits.

However, before I end the first part of this comprehensive guide, I think it’s a good idea to compare cloud automation with something called “cloud orchestration.” Learning about how these two processes relate to each other can fill in any gaps in knowledge about cloud computing.

In essence, if cloud automation is making one instrument play a certain melody when you want it to, then cloud orchestration is making multiple instruments work together to create a symphony. But let’s dive into more details.

Cloud Automation vs Cloud Orchestration

As mentioned at the end of the last section, you can use a musical analogy to think about the relationship between these two processes. And, same as with music, the added complexity means these processes are also more difficult to accomplish correctly.

Automation focuses on specific types such as monitoring or deployment. When you use these types to work together to create a better result, it’s known as cloud orchestration.

Some types of automation work together quite nicely and it’s usually very logical how you would combine them. But, orchestration also allows for some very out-of-the-box solutions that might change the entire way you do business.

For instance, you can use resource management and profile management to auto-create new tasks for people every day according to the needs of the system. Then, through software deployment and communication, they can have all the information they need on their device when they start.

If done correctly, you can reduce the need for supervision significantly and make all specialists much more efficient than before. Orchestration can also help with pushing repetitive tasks on the software. This will liberate your time to do things that require more flexibility and abstract thinking.

 Image of a violin orchestra performing.
If automation is a single violin, orchestration is an ensemble.

And there you have it, that was a brief introduction to cloud orchestration and how it relates to its younger cousin, cloud automation. I won’t go into any more detail here, I’ll save that for another article. Let’s wrap up what you’ve learned so far!

Final Words

In the simplest of terms, cloud automation is a set of software solutions that you can apply to cloud servers. While not all of them would be completely applicable to all businesses equally, you wouldn’t want to pass up any form of business automation.

Cloud automation gives you many benefits when it comes to labor hours, organization, efficiency, and avoiding mistakes. Each of these benefits can really make your life easier when completing tasks.

Finally, please note that this is the first part of a series of articles talking about cloud automation. If you need an ultimate guide on cloud automation, then this series is a must-read for you! Be on the lookout for the next parts coming soon on the official TechGenix website!

Do you have more questions on cloud automation? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

Why do I need cloud automation?

Cloud automation is very helpful to help reduce worker downtime as well as mistakes made from repetitive tasks. You can also use cloud automation to improve cloud data management and monitoring, as well as resource management.

What does a cloud automation developer do?

Although some cloud automation solutions don’t require a specialized developer, in most cases you’ll need a senior software developer. They’d need to have a specialization in cloud automation, orchestration, and integration. Finally, they should also know the system to understand what solutions need to be created, as well as best practices in the creation of those solutions.

What is an example of a task that you can use cloud automation for?

Security checks are the simplest solution that can get automated in a cloud system. Because it’s available 24/7, you can set up the system to perform a check before the cybersecurity specialists come to work, allowing them just to see the results and not waste time waiting on them.

What skills do cloud developers need?

A good cloud developer should be at least proficient in one programming language, with more being a benefit. They should also have a deep understanding of networking, database infrastructure, and software development.

What is the cloud programming language?

Although cloud-based operations can run in a variety of programming languages, the most commonly used are Java, ASP.NET, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

Resources

TechGenix: Newsletters

Subscribe to our newsletters for more quality content.

TechGenix: Article on Network Orchestration

Learn more about network orchestration and its best practices.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Data Management

Educate yourself on cloud data management and how to get started with it.

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Migration

Check out a step-by-step guide on cloud migration.

TechGenix: Article on Using the Power of Automation

Understand how to leverage the power of automation. 

TechGenix: Article on Cloud Scalability

Explore the question of cloud scalability and how to achieve it.

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