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Automating the cloud

Annie Andrews explains why, to truly take advantage of the computing model, businesses should also invest in cloud automation

Compared with the majority of Europe, Britain is racing ahead in its adoption of the cloud. 

Statistics published by Europa show that against a continental average of 26%, 41% of UK businesses used cloud technology last year. 

We’ve all heard of the rewards of cloud storage. Providing greater accessibility to data, unlimited storage, improved security and recovery of files should things go wrong. 

However, there’s less discussion on the advantages of automating processes that take place within the cloud.

In a nutshell, cloud automation describes tools and processes businesses can use to reduce manual efforts associated with cloud computing. This includes the deployment and operation of enterprise workloads, a process which is typically repetitive, laborious and time-consuming for IT workers, when completed manually.

Automating this process reduces the likelihood of error in software deployment, which also lessens the potential for security flaws. 

For IT teams, this automation can also ensure total consistency in software, giving workers the confidence to pass the code onto operations for deployment — without fear of things going wrong.  

However, risk avoidance isn’t the only advantage of cloud automation for IT workers. 

Mechanising this process also optimises the testing of software to ensure environments have been configured to the best possible standard.

“A common error in the cloud is failing to ensure environments have been configured according to best practice guidelines,” explained Hugh Valentine, Microsoft MVP and Curo Talent partner. “As investigating this requires manual intervention, it is common to discover that resources are not being optimally utilised and often, resources that are not required haven’t been disabled.

“Cloud automation can help to avoid these problems. Rather than the creation of resources in a traditional manner, automation scripts can be used to deploy these resources automatically, enforcing best practice from the outset.”

Automation also allows IT workers to use their time more effectively. Let’s say a developer is building an environment to be reused across several areas, or for numerous tenants.

Rather than rewriting the code for this environment manually each time, cloud automation allows for the batch creation of scripts to duplicate these resources automatically.

Streamlining processes isn’t the only possibility of cloud automation. Ultimately, businesses want software deployment and management to be achieved with as little human intervention as possible. However, in many crisis situations, this isn’t always possible.

Consider this as an example. An organisation’s website or application is struggling due to a sudden surge in online visitors. 

For instance, when tickets to Glastonbury festival are released, the event website experiences a staggering increase in traffic. Unless this surge is anticipated, servers will not be prepared for this influx, leading to crashes and downtime.

Rather than putting developers under pressure to attempt to fix the problem, cloud automation can allow for responsive infrastructure. In this case, the infrastructure could automatically scale up and deploy more servers to handle this increase in web traffic.

We’ve long heard about the accessibility, storage and security benefits of cloud computing.

However, these advantages are fruitless if businesses do not automate the processes that allow the enterprise to operate.

Thankfully, there are numerous offerings available to automate cloud platforms, including those from public cloud providers.

Annie Andrews is Head of Technology at Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent.

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