This is the first in a series of posts introducing Cloud Automation. Although there are already blog posts and articles discussing this, I have decided I should put my own thoughts across. People have different views on what Cloud Automation is. Here is mine in very simple terms.
I decided to create a short video to get across what I believe are the main benefits, along with covering two important buzz words – Automation & Orchestration.
If you have watched the video, you might have noticed something. Although the video is called Cloud Automation, ‘Workflows’ and ‘Orchestration’ are mentioned. These are two of the components that make up Cloud Automation. You will find that people will say automation, orchestration, cloud automation or cloud orchestration! 99% of the time they all mean the same thing – hands off activities on your cloud platform.
You can have three different types of Cloud. Private, Hybrid and Public. Put simply,
- Private Cloud – on premises (think a traditional VMware stack in your datacenter)
- Hybrid Cloud – a mixture of on premises and public cloud (for example, VMware in your datacenter with some services living on Azure, AWS etc)
- Public Cloud – services provided by an external provider (such as Azure or AWS)
It is common to find businesses creating a private cloud and then later moving to a hybrid scenario. Some businesses have managed to migrate themselves to a pure Public Cloud environment (I expect this won’t be the case for a lot of the readers here).
But what is the difference between a Private Cloud and my existing VMware installation in my datacenter I hear you ask!
Cloud Computing has been around for many years already, it isn’t a new concept. If you use GMAIL or Office365 you are already using cloud based services. These services often come with an associated charge. Additionally, you can request items or functionality from the service and have them provisioned for you on demand. Behind these services, there aren’t people waiting for your request! All of this is automated.
When we talk about a Cloud Platform we are expecting to embrace some of these concepts
- Chargeback – users are charged for the resources that they consume, whether it be virtual servers, applications or something else
- Self Service – users should be able to request and provision resources for themselves through a central web portal
- Automation – automation should be used to ‘automate’ tasks such as deploying a new virtual server, or provisioning additional storage
- Orchestration – orchestration pulls everything together and manages the end to end request process
If you want to migrate your existing infrastructure to a Private, Hybrid or Public Cloud, then the above are some of the things that you will need to consider implementing. The good news is that there are lots of vendors in the marketplace offering solutions to one or more of the above areas.
So to answer the question, what is Cloud Automation, I generally see it as the ‘Automation‘ and ‘Orchestration‘ elements. These elements provide the interconnectivity across the infrastructure and into and out of the chargeback and self service components. The Automation and Orchestration elements are what remove the human interaction part. They take care of the provisioning of a new service, application, storage etc. They replace the human element of the process.