When migrating to the cloud, many organizations focus on which cloud platform suits their workloads best and how they can keep their workloads secure and compliant in the cloud. While it’s often not the first element they consider, cloud automation is a vital part of the answer to these questions.
What is Cloud Automation?
Put simply, cloud automation refers to the processes and tools an organization uses to reduce manual efforts during the provisioning and managing of cloud workloads in any cloud environment: private, public, or hybrid.
Cloud automation covers a wide range of use cases. Here are just a few:
- Auto-scaling – adding new server instances to meet demand
- Cost/resource optimization – finding and eliminating orphaned or underutilized resources
- Disaster recovery – backup or replication of data at pre-set intervals
- Compliance – automatically disconnecting non-compliant resources such as a database exposed to the public internet
- Security – automating a response to known security threats
7 Benefits of Cloud Automation
In a world in which IT departments are stretched thin and many IT professionals wear multiple hats, cloud automation has some readily apparent benefits:
- Fewer errors – When repetitive tasks are automated there is less room for human error in the process, e.g., forgetting to do a backup.
- Greater compliance – According to a recent report by McAfee, 99 percent of public cloud misconfigurations go unnoticed. Automating the identification of and response to these resources can help prevent a breach.
- Greater resilience – From data breaches to natural disasters, to human error, your data and systems are always at risk. Automating backup and replication processes minimizes the time it will take to recover from a disaster and the potential for data loss.
- Improved agility – Estimating the capacity you’ll need to support a business initiative can be extremely difficult. Auto-scaling of resources will allow you to keep up with actual demand and create a better customer experience.
- Increased productivity – Cloud automation allows you to develop predictable, reliable workflows, simplify processes, and free up your IT team to work on other business initiatives such as data analytics and AI.
- Reduce costs – Finding and eliminating orphaned and underutilized instances can cut monthly cloud costs dramatically, especially for organizations that spin up a lot of resources for development and testing.
- Tighter security – By automating a response, an organization can reduce the time it takes to contain a data breach. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the meantime to contain a breach (MTTC) was 69 days. However, those organizations with an MTTC < 30 days spent over $1 million less on remediation than those with an MTTC > 30 days.
Evaluating Cloud Automation Tools
Most cloud platforms will have some sort of cloud management tool available. Popular platforms are also likely to have a variety of third-party options available as well. It’s a good idea to evaluate these tools before migrating to the cloud so you can include them in your migration project plan. In some cases, the available tools can even affect your cloud platform decision.
Here are a few things to look for when evaluating cloud management tools:
Your platform vendor, e.g., AWS, Azure, IBM, etc., is probably going to focus most on developing management tools for their platforms. Yet, almost all organizations end up leveraging multiple clouds, and many of these hybrid-/multi-cloud environments include clouds from more than one vendor. For example, we support many customers that have combined a private, hosted IBM cloud from Connectria with a public AWS or Azure cloud. If your cloud platform doesn’t have a tool that covers multiple platforms, you may end up needing more than one tool. That can complicate cloud management.
Even if you only deploy workloads in one type of cloud, chances are good that you will have multiple instances. Some tools don’t allow you to combine the management of all of these instances onto one dashboard. Again, this decreases visibility into your cloud resources and increases cloud governance complexity.
Breadth of functionality
Cloud governance requires managing three main areas: security/compliance, performance, and cost. Many point solutions focus on just one of these areas. Even if they do it particularly well, you’ll end up needing multiple tools to ensure you’ve covered all your cloud-governance bases.
Depth of functionality
Even if the tool covers all three cloud governance requirements, they may focus on one area at the expense of others. The only way to get a real feel for the depth and breadth of cloud management functionality is to watch these tools in action. Request a detailed demonstration before making a decision.
Finally, although this falls under the depth of functionality, it makes sense to call out automation functionality in particular. Even without automation, a cloud management tool can help you identify challenges and make the right decisions. However, automation is essential to realizing the full potential of your cloud investment.
At Connectria, we’ve developed a powerful cloud management tool called TRiA to ensure the effective and transparent management of our customers’ clouds. With multi-cloud capability, TRiA simplifies the management of AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM, and VMWare. All of our managed cloud customers are given full access to TRiA as we’ve found that transparency facilitates healthy collaboration and better alignment on our customer’s goals, objectives, and priorities.
TRiA is now also available as a service (SaaS) for any organization that manages their cloud environments in-house or through another managed service provider. If you’d like to learn more, here are some additional resources: