What is cloud orchestration?

Cloud orchestration is the process of automating and managing core infrastructure and workflows across cloud-based systems.

The advent of the cloud has provided companies with a reliable, effective solution to delivering essential capabilities and services to their customers, at scale. As such, the cloud itself has become an intrinsic part of modern business. Cloud computing gives organizations the resources they need to improve operational efficiency, cut up-front costs, and increase data and processing flexibility.

However, as the need for cloud resources increases, so does the need for effective cloud-resource management. With massive amounts of data spread throughout multiple cloud environments, establishing and maintaining coherent processes becomes a difficult prospect. To meet these rising challenges, companies are benefiting from new advances in cloud technology created to provide cloud-infrastructure management solutions. This technology is known as cloud orchestration.

Cloud orchestration works with the three primary delivery models for cloud services:

SaaS

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model where a provider makes an application available to a customer using a web-based interface. There are terms of service agreements that allow the customer to use the application, but they have no control over how the application is configured.

PaaS

In a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model, the provider is responsible for storage, systems, operating, servers, networks, and capabilities that are needed to host a customer’s application. It typically works as a code execution platform using a pay-as-you-go model.

IaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a model in which service providers are in charge of network hardware, storage, and servers for a customer.

Clouds are orchestrated by vendors that provide public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions. They automate manual workloads, implement common processes, and reduce costs through innovation and by meeting service level agreements (SLAs), while also ensuring compliance with relevant business policies.

Cloud orchestration empowers businesses to manage automated, cloud-based tasks at scale. Capable of handling complex dependencies while also allowing for effective monitoring, visualization, and security, cloud orchestration provides the tools companies need to create automated, self contained tasks. They can then combine tasks where needed to create effective, automated processes customized to their needs and the needs of their customers.

More specifically, cloud orchestration is capable of the following:

  • Protecting sensitive data and infrastructure by ensuring that only properly authorized users are able to access vital automation systems.
  • Eliminating or greatly reducing the risk of human error by automating important tasks.
  • Simplifying complex processes associated with data integration.
  • Providing broad diagnostic support for debugging and auditing.
  • Managing data-integration governance policies.
  • Creating an infrastructure in which new automation tasks may be easily added without the need to build new tooling.
  • Reducing the need for human intervention in many essential tasks.

As an end-to-end automation solution for service deployment in the cloud, cloud orchestration helps to streamline and optimize cloud-based processes. These capabilities bring a number of advantages to modern organizations.

Increased operational efficiency

Cloud orchestration reduces manual and repetitive tasks that can be automated away. IT teams are able to configure automated tasks, and use those tasks to build customized end-to-end processes. This eases the virtual and physical resources coordination, allows businesses to scale infrastructure according to requirements, and manage security and authorization. This saves both time and money, and gives teams what they need to operate more efficiently.

Supporting DevOps initiatives

There are significant benefits for software development teams that are working for continuous deployment, and who operate in cloud-based environments. Using effective cloud orchestration to automate monitoring, provisioning, configuring, testing, and more, developers are able to focus more of their attention on delivering applications and updates.

Enhanced security and visibility

IT operators may sometimes make simple network configuration errors. Unfortunately, these simple errors are some of the leading causes of cloud security breaches. Cloud orchestration eases the process for IT organizations to leverage their resources and perform vulnerability scans, compliance testing, and configuration validation, increasing security and visibility in the process.

Governance/consistency

Cloud Provisioning and Governance provisions on-demand cloud services, accelerating service delivery while providing consistent, nonintrusive governance guardrails that prevent uncontrolled cloud spend. It directly leverages native cloud provisioning capabilities.

Cloud Centers of Excellence need the ability to create a catalog of standardized cloud services. DevOps and other users simply select the cloud service they want, enter configuration parameters, and submit their request. Cloud Centers of Excellence should have a consistent, secure, and auditable way of ordering services across multiple clouds, delivering effective governance while simplifying and accelerating provisioning for users.

Cloud Centers of Excellence need role-based permissions and policies for your users, creating non-intrusive guardrails that are only triggered when there is an exception condition. Policy examples include storage and CPU quotas, allowed cloud service types, naming conventions, workload placement, resource sizing limits, tagging policies, and more. This enables the management approvals for policy exceptions while instantly fulfilling compliant requests. It is also important to be able to automatically deprovision cloud resources—reducing cloud sprawl and stranded cloud assets.

Managing all cloud resources and associated governance from a single portal helps to create new cloud services, manage existing cloud services, track approvals, and see associated changes and incidents for cloud resources. A single portal with quota utilization information, creates situational awareness and encourages users to release cloud resources they are no longer required.

A dedicated Cloud Administration Portal, providing a single pane of glass where IT managers can govern their cloud resources and deployment policies across multiple cloud vendors.

Cloud automation and cloud orchestration tend to be used interchangeably. But while connected, they are actually separate concepts. Cloud automation controls a single task like launching a web server, and makes it repeatable via automated methods with minimal human intervention. It requires manual coding in a single workload.

Cloud automation is a subset of cloud orchestration. Cloud orchestration brings together automated tasks, and places these activities within a process flow. It gives operators the power to combine established, automated tasks as kinds of building blocks, with which they can then construct more complex processes and workflows. Cloud orchestration coordinates multiple tasks with fewer manual coding requirements and less redundant work. It operates on a higher level of coordination, as cloud automation has already streamlined the process.

The concept of cloud orchestration is more than just a set of ideals. Today, businesses enjoy a range of available tools and solutions. These include the following:

Cloud services

Cloud services are essentially software designed to promote easy, effective cloud management for businesses. These services offer security and compliance, and help organizations better orchestrate their processes within the cloud.

Continuous deployment

Providing automation and release management of applications across different application lifecycles, continuous deployment uses automated testing to ensure stability before pushing autonomous deployment to production environments.

DevOps

Development solutions help unify development and operations for faster innovation and transformation.

Enterprise architecture

Identifying redundancies and waste within new and established processes, enterprise architecture driving transformation while increasing operational efficiency.

API management

API management software administers the lifecycle of apps, integrations, and APIs within SOA and heterogeneous environments.

The cloud has changed the way that businesses deploy information systems. Now, organizations of all sizes may enjoy direct access to powerful deployment tools, without having to invest large amounts of money in hardware or software installation and maintenance. Readily available resources allow for unprecedented flexibility and scalability. However, as dependency on cloud-based solutions increase, so does the burden placed on IT departments to build and manage cloud-based software systems.

Cloud orchestration seeks to close this gap. With fully generalizable environments and the ability to build complex workflows from building-block automations, IT departments can leave cloud-infrastructure responsibilities behind, and again turn towards business logic and other vital issues.

In the coming years, we can expect to see cloud orchestration become not only common, but essential to business success. As increased cloud complexity makes traditional automation management unfeasible, long term stability will only be possible with cloud orchestration solutions.

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