Welcome to the third and final part of my ultimate cloud automation guide!
In the first two parts, I discussed the benefits and types of cloud automation and its more complex form called cloud orchestration.
Developing solutions from scratch is difficult for some businesses and impossible for others. So, in the final part of this guide, I’ll discuss readily available tools you can use to start reaping the benefits of cloud automation right away.
At the moment, 5 options beat other available tools, either for their ease of use, number of features, or price point:
- Exinda Network Orchestrator
- Azure Automation
- Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform
- AWS CloudFormation
I’ll discuss each one in more detail later in the article. I’ll also explain the cloud automation tool characteristics and their helpful use cases. Let’s start with the characteristics.
Cloud Automation Tool Characteristics
If you’re an entrepreneur not operating in the tech industry, it might sound obvious you should purchase something you can’t develop. But, even if you have developers in your company, you may find it’s still wise to get outside help from a competent source.
Generally, it’s much better to spend time adapting and customizing existing high-quality software solutions than developing new ones. Additionally, all of the options cited have been tested and provide an array of solutions in different fields. In this case, you don’t need to prioritize new developments.
Still, you can source the best cloud automation software when you make new solutions from scratch. Good cloud automation software will always be easy to implement, quick to integrate, and will help the business immediately.
Here are 3 things to consider when choosing the appropriate tool for your busines.
1. Speed of Delivery
It’s generally better to go with a cloud automation tool—versus making your own solution. Why? That’s because of how quickly you can integrate it with the rest of your business.
The best cloud automation tools will always have guides and best practices. These will help you learn what the tools are and the best way to use them. This alone makes using cloud automation tools cheaper and easier.
2. Ease of Adaptation
It can be extremely difficult to develop a system to exactly fit your business needs. When you develop original software, they may not always work as they’re supposed to. You often end up spending time, money, and resources on development—something you didn’t expect.
But, cloud automation tools have already solve these problems. You can pick the tool that’s the best fit for your business. Then, you can use customization tools to make slight adjustments, instead of starting from scratch.
3. Reduction of Mistakes
Regardless of the business, mistakes are unavoidable. To avoid them, it’s best to let someone else make them. With cloud automation, you should start with best practices and go from there. Best practices are available for a reason—they’re generally created after developers make many mistakes.
In this case, you’re starting with tools that work well and can upgrade your business. You’d build on that to improve how they work and imagine new and improved solutions. So, you’d avoid paying for the same mistakes companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, have already paid for. Unless you’re Tim Cook, your company probably doesn’t have the same budget to afford the same mistakes.
After highlighting these characteristics, I’ll go through some examples of features you’ll want to look for in your cloud automation tools. Most tools should include these features, but it’s better to confirm. That way, you can ask for specific features before requesting a quote.
Cloud Automation Use Cases and Features
You can find many cloud automation applications, so it’s tough to give a definitive list of uses and examples. If you think you might have a problem you can solve with cloud automation, you probably do. You just need to make the correct commands.
Some of the most common automation examples are:
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
- Workload management
- Infrastructure and identity provisioning
- Application deployment
- Monitoring and remediation
- Data discovery and classification
Some of these are easy to use and implement in virtually any business. Others will have situational utility for some businesses, where you should only consider them in specific situations.
I’ll now explain each of the automation examples, and it’s up to you to decide which apply to you and which you’ll put on the back burner.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
IaC uses code instead of physical devices to organize system data. With cloud automation, you can keep all your information on cloud servers and allow automation to create definitions, communications, and hierarchies that streamline the process.
This system is usually much faster, demands fewer resources, and is easier to use for employees and customers.
Automation mostly assists in workload management. In this example, you can organize timesheets and responsibilities according to predetermined needs and parameters.
For instance, time requirements, vacations, and predicted sick leave for future work schedules could automatically be filled out. This leaves a margin for the job to be fully completed.
Infrastructure and Identity Provisioning
Provisioning is the process through which IT infrastructure becomes available to employees and users. It ties directly into both resource management and profile management when it comes to cloud automation.
With cloud automation, infrastructure provisioning is completed through the user interface under predetermined rules. The IT manager doesn’t need to manually input privileges, which would be virtually impossible for individual customer users.
This is an essential tool for any smartphone app. Few people would download an app as data-only, side-load it, and install it on their device. Rather, the process should be automatic by just pressing ‘’install’’ on a platform.
The application will download, install, check, connect, and run itself. The deployment automation will also create shortcuts on the device in predetermined places.
Monitoring and Remediation
Monitoring is one of the main advantages of cloud automation. It’s used in virtually all industries that have adopted cloud automation. Unlike manual monitoring, automated solutions can work in the background and only notify the user if it detects a serious issue.
For customers, monitoring can work in conjunction with application deployment, where the redeployment of the software to the device can solve any corruption issue in a file.
Data Discovery and Classification
Cloud automation rests on the fact that cloud servers can notice and extract specific data from a wide variety of non-related information and manage resources on a larger scale if the task gets repeated frequently.
You can use the data discovery type of cloud automation to classify all cloud-based information through existing metrics. This makes the data discovery and management process simpler and easier. You can do all of this automatically in the back end while anyone uses the system.
After going through these features, it’s time to discuss 5 of the best tools for cloud automation.
Top 5 Cloud Automation Tools
When you want choose a tool for your company you’ll consider the tool’s ease of integration into your existing business model. The less time you spend on training and development, the sooner you can take advantage of the benefits of your chosen solution.
Finally, the price is always something you have to consider. None of the tools are overly expensive, but you sometimes have issues with overhead. Thankfully, some options charge by bandwidth usage, so they’re quite adaptable to startups and smaller enterprises.
Thankfully, you have a variety of good solutions that can accommodate virtually any type of business. Here’s a table summarizing the top 5 tools I’ll discuss. Below this table is an analysis and discussion for each tool.
|Exinda Network Orchestrator||★★★★★ (5/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)||★★★★ (4/5)|
|Azure Automation||★★★★ (4/5)||★★★★ (4/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)|
|Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform||★★★★ (4/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)||★★★★ (4/5)|
|AWS CloudFormation||★★★ (3/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)|
|GitHub||★★★★ (4/5)||★★★★★ (5/5)||★★★★ (4/5)|
1. Exinda Network Orchestrator
Exinda Network Orchestrator is one of the best choices for users that don’t have a lot of experience in software development or coding. You don’t need any previous know-how in the area to use the software.
The user interface (UI) is easy to navigate and colorful, helping you visualize what you have to do instinctively. Even if you don’t understand automation, you’ll find it easy to start making your own solutions.
You have options for monitoring, oversight, deployment, and management. How to orchestrate between these features to make something new is also pretty clear.
Pricewise, you have cheaper options like AWS and Azure. Regardless, it’s still highly competitive and a good option for most businesses.
2. Azure Automation
Azure Automation is the native solution to the Microsoft Azure cloud server. As such, it lacks some of the features that need tinkering on the servers, primarily monitoring and communication. It mainly focuses on configuration and deployment.
The UI is also slightly dated and looks like an application from a decade ago. It’s easy to navigate, though, and most people won’t have an issue. But it’s best to command some of the terms before you start if you wish to be more efficient.
Finally, Azure is one of the cheapest options on the market, especially for smaller companies. They charge their services per hour, with the entire process externalized to Microsoft’s servers. It’ll cost you roughly 2 cents for every 10 hours.
3. Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform
Red Hat offers several cloud optimization solutions which all work for different fields. Their automation platform works to automate and orchestrate your cloud-based solutions. And it works extremely well.
The UI is solid, with only a slight learning curve to get the hang of things, especially if you’re using hybrid servers. All in all, it’s quick to figure out and easy to use.
You’ll be able to monitor, configure, and communicate multiple systems simultaneously, as well as orchestrate how the features work together.
The price is slightly higher than Azure and AWS and more in the ranks of Exinda and GitHub.
4. AWS CloudFormation
Up next is AWS CloudFormation. Their brand is so recognizable, and AWS is probably the most used cloud platform in the world. Still, their user interface is really bad compared to all other choices.
You’ll get all the features we discussed, but you might need a course on how to use this AWS service if you want to become proficient. Amazon recommends just that, which is a staunch negative in any book.
Pricewise, it’s only second to Azure and is very affordable, even for companies just starting and especially for users who take it as part of the AWS package.
This is probably the most recognizable name aside from the big three (Google, Amazon, and Microsoft). For any company that’s knee-deep in tech, it’s one of the best solutions out there.
The platform does presume you’re tech-savvy, and their UI starts in dark mode, which might not be something you’re used to. Also, most features are only available through string commands, which only coders will find intuitive.
Some UI solutions are direct and rely on point and click, but if your business isn’t a tech company, you might want to avoid them.
If you have coding experience, though, GitHub might be the best option because of its feature flexibility, excellent deployment, and reasonable price for those features.
Overall, to make your choice, it’s always best not to focus on who offers the most features. Rather, focus on which cloud automation features you can use. Go through the benefits and the types, as well as how they work, and figure out what would give you the biggest leg up right now.
And there you have it! Those are the top 5 cloud automation tools in the market today. Let’s recap!
It’s faster and simpler to use tools. And cloud automation tools help you make fewer mistakes in development, integration, and use. Unless you plan on making a competing product to the ones cited, it’s better to use the ones already developed and build on top of them if needed.
At the moment, you have several use cases you can choose and apply in multiple ways. Using cloud automation for infrastructure as code (IaC) or workload management might be the most common use, but you shouldn’t limit yourself if you need cloud automation for something different.
Finally, I discussed the 5 tools that are currently the best on the market. And while other tools exist, these are the best for a reason. Most apps don’t require coding knowledge and can offer solutions for most businesses right out of the box.
I hope my cloud automation guide helped you. Feel free to refer back to any of its parts in the future should you need to.
Do you have any more questions about cloud automation? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!
Is cloud automation testing possible?
Yes. Automated testing of different features and even code is possible and available through most tools. It’s one of the main benefits of cloud automation overall.
Is a cloud automation engineer necessary?
If you’re using cloud automation tools, you don’t have to employ a senior engineer specializing in cloud automation. But, if you wish to develop some of your own tools or highly customize existing software, you should have one on staff, and these jobs are in high demand.
Which cloud automation tool is the best?
While you have many choices, options like Exinda, Azure, Red Hat, AWS, and GitHub are some of the most popular and have the most features.
Is Azure Automation a good cloud automation service?
Yes, especially if you use Microsoft Azure cloud services. Azure Automation works natively with the service. While it doesn’t have the greatest user interface and requires a bit of time to get used to, it also offers very competitive pricing and options.
Can I automate cloud storage?
You can automate cloud storage in multiple ways, in particular when it comes to automated backups, workload management, and even application deployment. Because the cloud storage market is so competitive, it’s also currently an excellent option for business.
TechGenix: Guide on Cloud Automation Part 1
Read more about the benefits of cloud automation and what you can expect.
TechGenix: Guide on Cloud Automation Part 2
Learn about the types of cloud automation and what you can and can’t automate.
TechGenix: Article on Monitoring Your Organization’s Infrastructure
Discover some tips and tricks to monitor your organization’s infrastructure.
TechGenix: Article on Attack Vectors
Check out the currently frequent attack vectors and how to avoid them.
TechGenix: Article on Continuous Monitoring
Learn all about continuous monitoring.
TechGenix: Article on In-Depth Cloud Scalability
Educate yourself about in-depth cloud scalability and how to use it.