Cloudy with a chance of network automation

Cloud automation is a term that refers to the processes and tools that reduce or eliminate manual efforts used to provision and manage cloud computing workloads and services. Organizations can apply cloud automation to private, public and hybrid cloud environments.

Cloud network automation includes two major components: the grid master that has a cloud network automation license installed and one or more cloud platform appliances that provide the ability to process API requests. Instead of sending all API requests to the grid master, you can send requests directly to the cloud platform appliances.

The cloud network automation license installed on the grid master enables visibility and reporting on cloud tenants, VM IP addresses, and DNS record allocation. This license can be used in conjunction with cloud platform appliances to provide local survivability and additional scalability of cloud API requests within individual data centers, or it can be used with an existing grid master servicing all cloud API requests.

Traditional operation of enterprise workloads is a time-consuming and manual process. This often involves repetitive tasks such as: sizing, provisioning and configuring resources such as virtual machines (VM); establishing VM clusters and load balancing; creating storage logical unit numbers (LUN); invoking virtual networks; and monitoring availability and performance.

Although each of these repetitive and manual processes is effective, they are inefficient and often fraught with errors. These errors can lead to troubleshooting, which delays the workload’s availability. They might also expose security vulnerabilities that can put the enterprise at risk. With cloud automation, an organization eliminates these repetitive and manual processes to manage workloads.

Autoscaling – the ability to scale up and down the use of compute, memory or networking resources to match demand – is a core tenet of cloud computing. It provides elasticity in resource usage and enables the pay-as-you-go cloud cost model. Infrastructure configurations can be defined through templates and code and implemented automatically.

Continuous software development relies upon automation for various steps, from code scans and version control to testing. Assets can be tagged automatically based on specific criteria, context and conditions of operation. Cloud environments can be set up with automated security controls that enable or restrict access to apps or data, and scan for vulnerabilities and unusual performance levels.

When implemented properly, cloud automation offers many benefits: it saves an IT team time and money; it is faster, more secure and more scalable than manually performing tasks; it leads to fewer errors, as organizations can construct more predictable and reliable workflows; and it contributes directly to better IT and corporate governance.

Cloud automation invokes various steps and processes to manage workloads in the cloud with minimal or no human intervention. Cloud orchestration describes how an administrator codifies and coordinates those automated tasks to occur at specific times and in specific sequences for specific purposes. Cloud automation and orchestration are complementary and co-dependent. Automated tasks are part of an orchestration process.

While cloud automation tools or frameworks all share the same general goal, use cases vary widely, depending on the particular business and its goals. Some basic examples of cloud automation include: auto-provisioning cloud infrastructure resources; shutting down unused instances and processes (mitigating sprawl); and performing regular data backup. Another common use case for cloud automation is to establish infrastructure as code.

Cloud platforms typically organize compute resources into pools. Cloud automation processes and tools can draw from these resource pools to define common configuration items, such as VMs, containers, storage LUNs and virtual private networks. Then, they can load application components and services, such as load balancers, onto those configuration items, or create instances using templates or cloned VMs or containers. Finally, those items are assembled to construct a more complete operational environment.

Cloud automation is a central element of workload lifecycle management. Workloads in the cloud are typically long-term entities, but some of their individual components, such as scaled containers, may be ephemeral. Cloud automation can also play a role in hybrid clouds, to automate tasks in a private cloud environment and drive integration with public clouds. Cloud automation is also vital for busy app developers.

Lastly, cloud automation can provide version control for workflows, allowing organizations to demonstrate consistent setups that stand up to business and regulatory auditing. The business can see exactly which resources are currently in use, identify which users or departments use them, predict how resources will be used in the future and guarantee a level of service quality that is impossible with manual processes.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we help in the automated cloud networking space by focusing on organizational efficiency improvement through AI, machine learning and automation. We believe in making automation a walk in the clouds for our clients!

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