Cloud Automation Guide Part 2 – Uses and Types

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Is automation the future of technology?

Welcome back to my ultimate cloud automation guide

In the first part of the guide, I discussed what cloud automation is and how it can benefit any business. In this part, I’ll go deeper into the different uses and types of cloud automation. I’ll also share a few examples that might benefit you in the long run.

Educating yourself on these various uses and types will provide you with a lot of knowledge you can leverage for your company. You can use this knowledge to effectively and efficiently master the use of cloud automation. In turn, your company will have an edge over competitors who don’t take advantage of cloud automation.

Having said that, let’s get started. I’ll first go over the different uses of cloud automation.

3 Uses of Cloud Automation

Although I’ve discussed the main benefits of why you should consider cloud automation in the first article, it’s a good idea to discuss the main uses as well. 

The uses of cloud automation aren’t the same as the benefits. This is because what a business might get in the end is very different from how cloud automation actually assists that business.

Also, it’s important to know the limits of cloud automation and not expect it to be an end-all-be-all commerce solution. While you can automate a lot, some things are virtually impossible to automate without the assistance of human specialists.

Now, I’ll go over the 3 main uses of cloud automation.

1. Infrastructure

Employees have a lot of mundane tasks to deal with, especially when it comes to administration and tracking. This is where any AI shines through. It’s also why most companies that use cloud automation do so to add assistance to their infrastructure.

Primarily, this has to do with software development and deployment. In fact, being able to make, adjust, and upgrade your software quickly is useful for any software development business. I’ll talk more about this point specifically later on in the article.

You can also use cloud automation for human resources. In this area, profile management and tracking can divide tasks and assess progress in various fields. This is especially valuable for companies with a lot of employees working on different projects.

Finally, automatic communication that works externally for sales also works internally for prompts. If you’ve opted for the software to give out tasks automatically, you don’t need a person to inform various people of such tasks. Rather, the system would give out a prompt about the task, expectations, and deadlines.

2. Sales

Sales were probably one of the first adopted uses of cloud automation inside industries and niches that aren’t tech-based. Additionally, sales automation is one of the greatest benefits of online commerce. Automating sales through the cloud is a very lucrative tool to improve how quickly and efficiently you can sell a product.

The most common use is with software, where online purchases trigger automated software deployment. In many cases, online stores simplify this process.

But, you also can improve sales with the automation cloud. You can do this through profile management and automatic communication.

Through profile management, a business can tailor what a customer would see on their website. Through page monitoring, they can even collect cookies about what customers are viewing and clicking on the most. Then, through automatic communication, the customer can get informed about some benefits of buying exactly what they wanted.

Image of two computer screens with a hand emerging out of each one; one is holding a credit card, and one is holding a bag.
Cloud automation and online sales work really well together!

3. Security

You can use cloud automation for security in two ways. For one, you can use it to monitor and report regularly for any incursions, mistakes, or detected malicious software.

First, regular monitoring for cybersecurity threats is extremely useful because it’s always running. But it only informs the cybersecurity specialist if something is urgent. Additionally, automated security monitoring may make regular repairs automatically.

The second use is by recovering the system after a disaster or a cyberattack. Because your cloud servers are always available and can have multiple backups, these servers can go online and offline in seconds. In turn, this allows for some innovative cybersecurity measures.

For example, if you have an ongoing issue with the system getting infected from an unknown point and getting compromised, it’s possible to simply plug out the entire system and engage a backup instantly. This won’t affect your business in the slightest. Meanwhile, you can figure out where the attack came from and how to combat it.

And there you have it, those are three uses for cloud automation. Let’s dive deep into the types of cloud automation now.

Types of Cloud Automation 

Before looking at the specific types of cloud automation, it’s important to look at the relationship between cloud automation and the size of your organization.

On one side, you have large operations suitable for large companies or corporations. On the other, you have cloud automation gauged towards individual websites, as well as mobile applications.

The difference between these two types isn’t just the size of the operation, but also the requirements needed by the two types of businesses. Let’s quickly touch upon these requirements.

Image of a group of people sitting at a table with notebooks, laptops, pens, and cups.
Cloud automation can be beneficial depending on the size of your business!

Cloud Automation and Business Types

For large businesses and corporations, cloud automation can speed up both connections between intra-company users as well as any customers.

In those cases, the company can have back-end tasks such as bandwidth manipulation and resource allocation managed by the cloud platform. Also, various front-end tasks such as security checks can happen this way. This helps in reducing overall downtime.

For smaller businesses and mobile apps, the demands are different. These companies are much more focused on external users and customers. Such pages and apps need to have their run-time environment isolated to increase security and stability.

Also, apps need to be able to scale quickly with the demands of the market. A single app when gaining popularity can have millions of new users in a day. Because of this, you need an automated cloud server to expand resources to allow those customers to use the app.

Now then, without further ado, it’s time to look at the actual types.

8 Types of Cloud Automation

Because of the versatility of what automation in cloud environments can do, no list of types is strict or finite. This is because it’s both possible, and advised, to adapt and evolve the uses to fit your needs exactly. 

Still, as it stands, you can categorize cloud automation into 8 major types:

  1. Software Deployment
  2. Software Development and Testing
  3. Monitoring and Error Detection
  4. Profile Management and Access Distribution
  5. Multi-Cloud Interaction
  6. Automatic Communications with Clients and Customers
  7. Resource Management
  8. Data Backups

In theory, you can automate every repeating task in your business. But this isn’t always the case as not all tasks are as repetitive as you think. Let’s take, for instance, sales calls. They might seem repetitive overall, but it’s a different call to a different person every time.

Because of this, I’ve created a table that categorizes the previously mentioned types into 3 columns: automated, supervised, and manual. You can automate each of these types, but I’ve also added the supervised and manual counterparts for each in the table.

If you match these types with what your company does, it shouldn’t be a problem to figure out where you’d benefit from cloud automation.

AutomatedSupervisedManual
Software DeploymentUpdate IntegrationAPI Customization
Software Development and TestingBeta TestingSoftware Patches
Monitoring and Error DetectionError EvaluationError Solving and Patching
Profile Management and Access DistributionProfile UpdatesProfile Deletion
Multi-Cloud InteractionHybrid Cloud InteractionCloud Upload
Automatic Communications with Clients and CustomersCustomer SupportPersonalized Calls
Resource ManagementResource AllocationResource Denial
Data BackupsDisaster RecoveryExploit Patching
Automate some tasks, do others manually!

Now, let’s talk about each type in more detail, starting with software deployment.

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You need code, but you need humans, too.

1. Software Deployment

Software deployment is one of the most frequent examples of cloud automation. The packed software executable can be completely held on the cloud server and deployed to predetermined devices at regular intervals.

This is a system that currently works with virtually all smartphone and mobile apps. But it also works with simpler apps that operate on desktop computers.

In most cases, the same process can be fully executed with updates. An example is if your customer has agreed to get remote and automated updates for their apps.

But, if someone has concerns about how new updates would affect the rest of the system and how they’ll get integrated, it’s always best to monitor and supervise that process.

Finally, any type of software customization, such as API customization needs to be done by hand. This means a developer tests and reworks the process until it isn’t a drain on resources and works as intended.

Pro Tip

The best way to automate software deployment is to include as many options and customization in the main package. With such executable files, you’ll make your software more stable with less need for any supervision or support.

2. Software Development and Testing

It’s always possible to create software from scratch. For most developers, even that means scrolling through Stack Overflow searching for code they can copy and paste to their project. Thankfully, you can automate most of that process in the cloud.

This is exactly how development platforms like SAS (previously known as “Statistical Analysis System”) and FileMaker work. These tools let you automate most of the software development and testing process.

With automation, especially when it comes to testing, it’s possible to avoid many small coding mistakes, such as missing brackets or permuting letters. And with simplification, you have the capabilities to make solutions faster and more reliable with the rest of the system.

Regretfully, you can’t automate everything in the testing process. At some point, actual customers need to test the software. At that moment, you’ll need some supervision to evaluate how issues came about. Then, you’ll follow the full path, not just the moment a problem happened.

Finally, you can’t automate patches because bugs are so unpredictable. These patches and workarounds need to be fully done manually and patiently. Your software may stop working for many reasons.

Pro Tip

If software development is your core business, it’s prudent to make your automated processes to make all future development more reliable. If it’s not, hiring a third party made of professionals, or using Software as a Platform (SaaP) for development is much more advisable than venturing into a whole industry in search of your solutions.

3. Monitoring and Error Detection

When it comes to cloud automation, monitoring for errors and issues is one of the best ways to save labor hours and increase efficiency. Everything going through the cloud can get automatically monitored. And it can also get monitored and evaluated at any time.

While few software solutions can go deeper into why some issues have appeared, an IT manager can get a full list of issues once they get back to their workstation. This allows the specialist to have more time doing functional work and not waiting for machines to finish what they can do automatically.

Issue solving and patching, especially if they’re major ones, will usually need to be manual. Patches are usually required for glitches, but also for quality of life improvements. As a result, these patches are often unique.

But, some solutions do exist, such as buffering or cache deletion, that can get automated during the patching process. If a routine process is introduced regularly, the patch might include an automated process to flush the memory or reroute resources at those times.

Pro Tip

To increase speed and reduce workflow issues, make the cloud server start error detection right after the specialist goes home. Only show pressing issues during work-time monitoring. This way, you’ll have daily times for error resolution, without dividing it into miniature chunks that break the workflow.

4. Profile Management and Access Distribution

When it comes to large companies, following who gained and who lost privileges to certain systems, passcodes, and information can be an issue and an angle of attack for cybercriminals.

But, with cloud automation, it’s possible to automate profile management. You can make specific conditions that specify when someone gets access and when they lose it.

For instance, the entire cloud server can be fully attached to the employee ledger that states their profile and position. From this information, you can get values that would designate someone having access to certain data or being completely restricted from seeing something.

In this scenario, their personal profile stays the same. But if their position gets changed, they’d automatically have new access with the same tokens or passwords, including key cards.

Similarly, if they’re taken off the list of people who have access, their existing passwords and keycards will stop working. You won’t need to revoke each privilege manually.

You’ll need to utilize profile editing and especially profile deletion here under supervision to remove any security risks. Still, aside from someone needing to flip the switch on someone’s profile, everything else would get automated.

Pro Tip

While we give certain jobs deeper meaning, the system just sees them as values. If you have a convoluted system of juniors, seniors, managers, and executives, it’s better to follow the military route and assign codes to positions. This allows you to make them sound better or worse to humans than they actually are while retaining the same efficiency from the system.

5. Multi-Cloud Interaction

Although automating the interaction between more than one cloud server doesn’t significantly reduce labor, it does reduce the number of errors that can occur.

This is because most cloud environments don’t have identical platforms and those small variations can create issues with regular use. But, if you automate the communication, this stops being an issue.

With automation, the codes in all platforms are automatically translated and used as if the whole network is a single cloud server. And, it can also perform security checks that prevent data leaks and espionage.

The only moment when some supervision is necessary is when you’re dealing with a hybrid cloud that works with terrestrial and cloud-based solutions. In this case, it’s always better to adapt one to the other in real-time. Otherwise, mistakes can damage the part that isn’t on the cloud.

Finally, the interaction between the cloud and physical servers that you need to upload to the cloud will still need manual oversight. Because of different hierarchies, this issue can’t get automated, and it’s best to upload anything you need as soon as possible.

Pro Tip

If you’re using different cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, it’s best to use third-party software such as Exinda or GitHub. This software can help automate communication between the three and allows you to use all of the features from all of the platforms.
Image of symbols of different elements of cloud computing.
Cloud systems might look the same, but most use slightly different code from each other.

6. Automatic Communications with Clients and Customers

This solution is relatively recent when it comes to cloud automation, but it has been taking the commerce world by storm. Namely, with automation, you can specifically target messages for clients and customers. This way, you can inform them and get them further down the sales funnel.

Bots that recognize keywords and give specific answers are now commonplace for virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa. But can also use these to answer frequently asked questions and help consumers with common tasks.

Additionally, you can automate tasks such as customer support, allowing just supervision of multiple conversations with customers. There, the machine will do 90% of the work. But in that case, the overseer only needs to jump in once the software notifies them that it’s out of pre-coded solutions.

This won’t solve personalization and direct calls, often the biggest sales resource, but it might cover a lot more ground and allow any cold calling to get done with additional information.

Pro Tip

Don’t try to make your automated messages sound like real people. Make software assist the process, but inform your customer base that if they need it, they do have a human there to help. Such openness and the ability to escalate the issue will be greatly appreciated.

7. Resource Management

Managing the system resources isn’t as easy to automate as it sounds. You need to know how your business works to know how many resources are available and how much is needed by any user.

But, if you can automate system resources and balance utilization across the board, then you can have every department in your company see benefits virtually immediately. One of the most common resources here is bandwidth, where you can determine the biggest users and give them preference.

This won’t prevent anyone from using the resources, but would rather optimize to allow bigger or more pressing users to have bandwidth first.

Regretfully, it isn’t possible to automate dynamic allocation outside of a predictable range. Even then, it’s better to have supervision. Such supervision will use the same process as the automation and is necessary if you need to make quick changes.

Finally, while you can automate resource denial, such solutions garner a significant security risk. It’s better to leave this tool out of the hands of potential cybercriminals that might gain access so that they don’t have the tools to cut you out while you’re not watching.

Pro Tip

Run tests to check system use at peak, median, and low times. Use those to evaluate how much any of the sectors will need. But, always allow for a 20% leeway for extreme cases.

8. Data Backups

Regular backups are essential for cybersecurity, system stability, and good oversight. Regretfully, regular manual backups often get missed, cut short, or simply pushed to a more opportune time for the IT manager.

With cloud automation, this will never be an issue again. Primarily, it performs backups when everyone else has their downtime. The process should happen at the end of the day so that it can save everything done on that day.

With automated data backup, you can save multiple daily backups on the cloud, allowing even problems that are several days old to get reverted. Thus, even systemic problems, such as a faulty update or a system-wide bug, can be easily solved without anyone needing to stress about the data.

Some backup solutions, such as disaster recovery, won’t be as automated. You’ll still need stakeholders and specialists to supervise the disaster recovery service (DRS).

Additionally, fixes would need to be manual because if you knew what the problem would be, you’d fix it in the first place.

But, you’ll have all your information backed up all the time, allowing you more liberties with testing software, communication, and development.

Pro Tip

Always make the system make multiple backups that last at least 14 days in the past and store them in different locations. With these backups, even if cascading failures happen, you’ll be able to save your data and solve the issue without any stress or loss.
Image of a padlock shown over strings of numbers.
A backup isn’t only to prevent disasters, but to allow you to backtrack if you made any mistakes.

And that’s it for the second part of my ultimate cloud automation guide. Let’s wrap up.

Final Words

Primarily, you should focus on the 3 categories and see if your business has repetitive tasks within your infrastructure, sales, or security operations. If so, you have a beneficial aspect of cloud automation that you can leverage in your company.

Next, you have the specific types that may give a narrower focus on some specific aspect of your business that you can automate with a single type of automation, or by fusing multiple types into cloud orchestration solutions (I discussed this concept in the last part).

Finally, if you noticed that some examples match the purposes useful for your business directly, you can be certain that cloud automation is something for you.

In the final part of the guide, I discussed the use cases of cloud automation, as well as who the best providers are in the market. You also have some tools that will allow customization and would adapt even further to the needs of your business. Be on the lookout for part 3!

And if you want more details about cloud automation, check out the FAQ and Resources below!

FAQ

What is a cloud automation tool?

Cloud automation tools are sets of pre-made software solutions that help businesses automate various tasks inside their business, provided that they’re using cloud storage. These solutions can vary from simple monitoring software to complicated cloud orchestration models.

What is agile cloud automation?

Cloud automation that’s constantly customized and letting it evolve with the needs of the business is called agile cloud automation. With tools like Exinda, any business can constantly grow the capacity of its cloud automation and orchestration.

Is cloud orchestration better than cloud automation?

Cloud orchestration is the use of several types of cloud automation in conjunction to create a greater effect. But, while you can finish more complex tasks with cloud orchestration, that doesn’t mean that the solution provided is better than the simpler one provided by automation.

Is there cloud automation for AWS?

You have multiple cost optimization tools for AWS, and cloud automation is one of the options natively available with the service. AWS also allows finished solutions under their AWS Cloud Formation software.

Is Microsoft Azure good for cloud automation?

Yes. Microsoft Azure natively accepts all types of cloud automation. It even offers a set of solutions inside the Azure Automation package. Further development of Azure is also one of the main focuses of the company.

Resources

TechGenix: Guide on Cloud Automation: Part 1 

Learn what cloud automation is, how it works, and its benefits in the first part of this guide.

TechGenix: Guide on Cloud Automation: Part 3 

Stay tuned for the third part of this series to learn about the use cases and the best tools available for cloud automation.

TechGenix: Guide on Side-Channel Attacks

Follow a detailed guide on the types of side-channel attacks and how to defend against them.

TechGenix: Article on Attack Vectors

Explore what attack vectors exist and how to avoid them.

TechGenix: Article on HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage Services

Learn what the best HIPAA-compliant cloud storage services are.

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