Blog Post Cloud Orchestration and Automation Explained

Cloud orchestration has become a critical part of the multi-cloud and hybrid IT infrastructure for most major enterprises. But being in the cloud does not simply mean storing critical data there—cloud jobs and workloads can be automated to perform essential tasks that support the business and significantly boost business efficiency and productivity. This post will explain how to orchestrate your cloud when combined with Workload Automation (WLA).

What is Cloud Orchestration?

Cloud orchestration involves organizing multiple automated tasks into a single harmonious workflow, making IT processes simpler and more efficient. Too often, IT processes are developed within organizations on a reactionary basis. This approach leads to silos of automated tasks that serve point solutions. In order to mitigate the high risk and high cost of automation silos, it is crucial that IT operations decision-makers, often working with cloud architects, orchestrate the siloed jobs into workloads that span across their entire IT operations environment. Cloud orchestration, combined with a modern Workload Automation solution, offers the opportunity to gain an agile, multi-directional system.

This concept has an advocate in Gartner, who recently released their Market Guide for Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms. One of the primary themes of the report ties to using evolved workload automation solutions to orchestrate compex hybrid IT cloud environments. 

Benefits

Cloud orchestration allows organizations to move to a true hybrid infrastructure without having to worry about the interconnectivity and interaction between systems. The right cloud orchestration tool serves as a single point of control for the entire system, resulting in superior customer care and consistency. Other benefits include:

  • Innovation: a fully orchestrated hybrid IT system allows for a more creative approach to IT that will inevitably help IT Ops problem-solve more efficiently.
  • Full control at your fingertips: no more worrying that your solution is only giving you a partial picture of your enterprise’s IT landscape—it’s all there, within a single pane of glass view.
  • Compliance guaranteed: orchestrating an entire system to work as one allows for universal built-in checks and balances, so your system is always compliant.
  • API management with superpowers: orchestrated workflows can call up APIS like tools from a toolbox to perform specific tasks based on event triggers, making for seamless coordination and synchronicity.  
  • Future-proofing: with cloud orchestration, IT operations teams can sleep well at night rather than worrying about the future of their IT environments.

Cloud Orchestration with Workload Automation Use Cases

The thought of cloud orchestration sounds great in theory, but how does it work in practice? Let’s examine a couple of real-life examples.

Use Case 1: Automating Tasks with Cloud Service Providers Like AWS and Azure

A modern workload automation solution will be able to orchestrate any hybrid environment, be that hybrid cloud, or even multi-cloud (an ecosystem composed of more than one public cloud service provider). WLA software can build workflows across multiple platforms that enable the entire IT system to work as one unified force. To do this, it must play well with all cloud service providers as well as on-premise and distributed environments. This requirement means the WLA solution must have the flexibility to integrate with existing applications and data within those environments. We outline several key features of both the AWS and Azure clouds below, providing some simple technical examples of how a WLA solution helps to automate them as part of a holistic hybrid IT ecosystem.  

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Automation

AWS has emerged to be the most prominent public cloud provider. They currently have over 100 services available in over 20 regions across multiple continents. Among these services are various offerings for server, storage, and database resources. Below are just a few examples of how WLA automates key features:

  • EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) – WLA is designed to provision one or multiple EC2 instances. Additionally, an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) allows you to provision a customized server. By using EC2 in concert with WLA, a default or customized server can be provisioned in an event-based fashion in any AWS region.
  • RDS - The database offerings from AWS, such as Aurora or even data-warehouses such as Redshift, can be automatically provisioned by the right WLA solution.
  • Cloud Storage - AWS offers multiple storage tiers such as S3 and Glacier. WLA can be used as a central location to implement long term log storage. For example, tasks can be executed daily or weekly to compress logs and then transfer them to S3.
  • Beyond Default APIs - AWS has APIs which allow resources to be manipulated programmatically. WLA can be used to fill the gap for APIs that function in a "fire and forget it" manner.

Azure Automation

Automation Microsoft Azure is one of the largest public cloud providers in the market. They currently have over 600 services in 52 regions around the globe. Below are just a few examples of how WLA automates key features:

  • Container Instances – WLA solutions will automatically deploy containers to the cloud using the event-based trigger approach. This provides increased agility with containers on demand. In addition, WLA will automatically erase the containers when no longer needed. This auto-erase approach helps to reduce Virtual Sprawl.
  • Virtual Machines – WLA will help you automate the on-demand requirements to spin up virtual machines in minutes. Sure, Azure can do that on its own if someone goes and configures it. But WLA solutions will automate this process via containers when triggered by Dev Ops, Service Management, and other applications that business users natively use – without ever having to request support from IT.
  • Azure Cloud Scheduler - Azure has a built-in cloud job scheduler. However, a WLA solution will be cloud agnostic, allowing enterprises in a multi-cloud environment to automate across all cloud service providers within their environment. This helps to unify diverse landscapes, while allowing complex and nested workflows to be created with ease. 
banner hybrid data ecosystems report

Use Case 2:  Compliance and Security Updates Across Hybrid or Multi-Cloud

Imagine your organization utilizes a hybrid cloud and multi-cloud infrastructure with applications residing in two separate public cloud service providers, as well as on a private cloud. How do you easily make compliance and security updates across all these applications, regardless of where they are housed? Without the right orchestration and automated approach, this is a highly manual effort, requiring disconnected scripts, native job schedulers for each application, and the people on staff to make the changes. A cloud orchestration approach, using a WLA solution, can schedule and install the updates across all platforms during a maintenance window from a single “command-center” type of interface.

When combined with WLA, cloud orchestration can be used to keep an inventory of resources and configuration items. Together, WLA and cloud orchestration tools can automatically track changes across your services and software and notify you of potential issues from the same “command center” noted above. These alerts are much quicker than traditional manual monitoring, leading to a faster reaction time when errors occur.

Use Case 3: Hybrid Cloud Storage and File Transfer

When utilizing a hybrid environment, organizations realize that their data needs to be portable to anywhere at any time. Suppose, for example, that you have a data pipeline in place where data needs to be transferred from a private cloud to a public cloud platform. However, suppose that it needs to be transferred to an Amazon S3 now, and an Azure BLOb tomorrow. In addition to that, what if the input data first needs to be aggregated from several different on-premise environments such as Windows, Linux, and Unix.

Managing this data pipeline sounds complicated, right? The reality is that the one outlined above is just the starting point for enterprises interested in getting to real-time data sharing. This is where cloud orchestration using workload automation comes into play. Having the ability to cross the firewall or the silos between multiple cloud service providers, WLA uses a number of secure methods to move data back and forth via hybrid managed file transfer. Because this managed file transfer is native to the WLA solution, you have the ability to make this whole process based on triggers or events. The event-based trigger approach to hybrid cloud storage and file transfer allows organizations to manage their data pipeline in real-time versus waiting for time-based jobs or batches.

Conclusion

With the prevalence of hybrid cloud environments today, cloud orchestration is extremely important to allow organizations to realize the full benefits of their hybrid landscapes. Proper orchestration will serve as the single point of contact for managing all aspects of interconnectivity between the systems. Cloud orchestration, when combined with WLA also reduces errors by reusing automated tasks as building blocks. Orchestration enables a truly scalable and flexible infrastructure.

Start Your Automation Initiative Now

Schedule a Live Demo with a Stonebranch Solution Expert

Request a Demo

Further Reading

Detailed Product Demo Infrastructure as Code Header purple background

DEMO: Infrastructure-as-Code for Self-Service Cloud Provisioning

During this detailed product demonstration, you will learn how Universal Automation Center's infrastructure management solution enables automated self-service...

Detailed Product Demo Job-as-Code Header purple background

DEMO: Job-as-Code for DevOps. Move Workflows to Source Control Management Repositories

During this detailed product demonstration, you will see several use cases in action as you step you through the Universal Automation Center's Job-as-Code...

Infrastructure as Code for Automated Self-Service Cloud Deployments Header Webinar

Infrastructure as Code for Automated Self-Service Cloud Deployments

Watch this webinar recording to learn how Stonebranch’s Infrastructure as Code solution automates and simplifies the whole self-service infrastructure...

Transitioning to Stonebranch - 11 Ways to Prepare for a Migration to a New WLA Solution

Transitioning to Stonebranch - 11 Ways to Prepare for the Migration to a New WLA Solution

learn how to ensure a successful migration project with a process-driven approach to switch from one workload automation solution to another.