Ankur Mandal

Cloud Infrastructure Automation: An Ultimate Guide


Ankur Mandal

5 min read

As cloud infrastructure management becomes more complex, simplifying cloud orchestration activities is essential for reducing costs and boosting operational efficiency. Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have made automation a crucial element in streamlining operations, enabling organizations to integrate it into nearly every aspect of their business.

In this blog, we will discuss cloud infrastructure automation, its benefits, and some of the best practices you can follow to achieve operational excellence and significant cost savings.

What is Cloud Infrastructure Automation?

Cloud infrastructure automation refers to automating the provisioning, configuring, and managing cloud resources to streamline operations and improve efficiency. The primary goal of automation is to tackle the challenges that arise from manual cloud provisioning, such as:

  • Right-sizing, provisioning, and configuring resources and virtual machines (VMs): Automation helps ensure resources are optimized for their workloads, preventing over-provisioning and reducing costs.
  • Monitoring and analyzing the performance of cloud resources: Automated monitoring tools track performance metrics and can quickly identify and address issues before they escalate.
  • Managing virtual networks: Automation simplifies the creation and management of virtual networks, enabling better connectivity and security.
  • Testing and deploying software: Automated testing and deployment processes improve software reliability and speed up release cycles.
  • Storage provisioning: Automating storage provisioning helps ensure data availability and scalability while maintaining data security.

Given their complexity and repetitive nature, automating them is crucial to avoid operational disruptions and maintain the business's overall health and performance. Various automation and orchestration tools are available to help efficiently manage cloud infrastructure and keep it in optimal shape. 

How Is Cloud Automation Different From On-Premises Automation?

Cloud and on-premises automation differ in several key aspects related to deployment, cost, and management as IT operations evolve.

In on-premises automation, the software is installed and hosted on servers in your own data center. This approach provides greater control over the infrastructure, including direct management of security and maintenance. However, implementing and maintaining on-premises automation requires a significant investment in physical hardware and personnel for continuous upkeep, making it a more time-consuming and expensive option.

In contrast, cloud automation leverages a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, hosting the tools in the cloud and accessing them via the Internet. Cloud automation focuses on streamlining services within a virtual infrastructure and is typically easier to set up and use. The cloud provider handles the investment in resources for developing and maintaining security, scalability, performance, and availability. Your only cost is the license fee to access the software, making cloud automation generally more cost-effective than on-premises automation.

By choosing cloud automation, businesses benefit from lower upfront costs and ongoing operational expenses. They avoid the need to purchase and maintain physical hardware or employ a large team of DevOps professionals. This allows organizations to focus on their core business activities while the cloud provider takes care of infrastructure management.

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure Automation

Automating critical aspects of your cloud infrastructure can lead to significant advantages for your business:

  1. Enhanced Cost-Savings: Automation can help optimize your cloud environment, reducing the need for manual provisioning and configuration, which can be expensive and error-prone. It also minimizes unnecessary costs by eliminating idle resources and accurately matching usage with demand. Furthermore, using AI-driven predictive analytics, you can forecast future resource needs, align your budget accordingly, and detect and correct any anomalies in spending patterns.
  2. Improved Cloud Security: Automation enhances cloud security by enforcing consistent security policies across all your resources. This ensures smooth, secure deployments while quickly identifying and mitigating anomalies or cybersecurity threats. As a result, your cloud environment remains resilient against potential risks.
  3. Higher Scalability: Automating your cloud infrastructure allows you to scale operations more efficiently to accommodate changing market conditions and workloads. By integrating AI and ML tools, your cloud can automatically provision and configure resources according to evolving business requirements and demands, unlocking the full potential of your infrastructure.
  4. Time Savings: Manual cloud provisioning and configuration can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Automation simplifies these tasks, allowing them to be performed with greater accuracy and fewer errors. By automating routine activities, DevOps teams can focus on higher-value tasks requiring specialized attention, improving overall productivity and innovation.

Cloud Infrastructure Automation Best Practices

Here are some best practices you can follow to ensure you get the best out of your cloud when automating all activities within your infrastructure.

1. Clearly Define Your Use Case for Cloud

Before introducing automation solutions into your cloud infrastructure, it's essential to clearly define your use case and establish a solid framework for automation. This involves making informed choices about which aspects of your cloud environment to automate and how to approach the process.

  • Decide What to Automate: Begin by identifying the specific areas of your cloud infrastructure that you want to automate. Depending on your organization's needs and goals, this might include automating just certain workloads or your entire cloud infrastructure.
  • Choose a Cloud Provider Strategy: Decide whether you want to work with a single cloud provider or adopt a multi-cloud approach. Each option has its advantages and challenges, so consider factors such as cost, performance, and compatibility with your existing systems.
  • Identify SaaS-Driven Elements: Determine which cloud infrastructure elements will leverage SaaS solutions. This may include computing, storage, and visibility. Ensure that the SaaS tools you select align with your use cases and provide the desired benefits.
  • Focus on Enhancing Capabilities: Your use cases should aim to improve key aspects of your cloud infrastructure, such as performance, scalability, and security. Choose SaaS tools and other resources that can enhance these capabilities.
  • Explore Extended APIs for Cloud Automation: Look for SaaS providers that offer extended APIs to support cloud automation. These APIs can help streamline and integrate automation processes, providing greater flexibility and control.

By clearly defining your use case and establishing a solid automation framework, you can make strategic decisions to optimize your cloud infrastructure. This approach will help you select the right tools and strategies to achieve your business objectives and maximize the value of your cloud environment.

2. Implement Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a practice that involves provisioning and managing cloud infrastructure using code rather than manual processes. Automating your cloud operations with IaC is considered a best practice, as it eliminates the need for manual provisioning, configuration, and management of cloud computing tasks, storage resources, and other infrastructure components during development, testing, and deployment.

By adopting Infrastructure as Code, you can streamline and automate critical infrastructure operations such as provisioning, configuration, deployment, and management of cloud resources. This approach enhances innovation, agility, reliability, and efficiency in today's competitive digital landscape.  

3. Drive Focus Towards Storage Optimization

Storage is a key aspect of every cloud infrastructure, making automation of storage optimization crucial for maximum performance and cost savings. Properly aligning your resources to meet your cloud's storage requirements is vital, as failing to do so can lead to operational disruptions and higher cloud expenses.

According to Virtana's "State of Hybrid Cloud Storage 2023" study, 94% of IT industry respondents experienced a significant increase in cloud storage costs, while 54% reported higher storage expenses than their overall cloud bill. This indicates that cloud storage, a fundamental part of IT infrastructure, is often overlooked, negatively impacting a company's performance and profitability. Hence, keeping an eye on storage is essential, and seamlessly managing storage resources without causing any operational disruptions must be addressed effectively.

This is where Lucidity’s cloud cost automation solution comes to the rescue and also addresses the following pain points of today's cloud environments:

Lucidity a cloud infrastructure automation solution website homepage
  • Over-provisioning/Under-provisioning of Storage: Companies often overprovision storage capacity to avoid performance bottlenecks, leading to unused resources and inflated cloud bills. Alternatively, underprovisioning can result in storage limitations, causing costly downtime and recovery expenses.
  • Inefficient Management: Manual storage provisioning is complex, costly, and time-consuming for DevOps teams. This can delay application deployments, hinder user experiences, and increase the potential for errors. These challenges are exacerbated in multi-cloud environments.
  • Unpredictable Workloads: Businesses frequently experience fluctuating market conditions, seasonal spikes, and unexpected growth phases, which lead to varying storage demands. These changing workloads can impact cloud performance and contribute to issues like over- and under-provisioning.

Lucidity offers a block storage optimization solution that dynamically adjusts storage resources based on usage and business needs. It is the industry's first storage orchestration tool that automates live shrinkage and expansion of your cloud's block storage, ensuring efficient and effective management of storage resources.

How Does Lucidity Work?

Lucidity’s storage audit solution offers a comprehensive, automated storage discovering process that is free of charge and spans one week. The solution identifies unused areas and idle resources within your cloud infrastructure while analyzing usage patterns and highlighting inefficiencies that lead to unnecessary costs.

The automated nature of the audit process means that DevOps teams do not need to be involved in manual auditing, allowing them to focus on higher-priority tasks. Once the audit is complete, Lucidity generates a detailed report that outlines current storage inefficiencies, idle resources to be eliminated, and potential cost-saving opportunities.

Key insights included in the report are:

  • Current Disk Spend Analysis: Provides a breakdown of storage costs to identify areas of excessive spending.
  • Disk Downtime Risks: Highlights potential risks associated with storage downtimes.
  • Overprovisioned Areas: Identifies areas with excess storage capacity that require attention for optimization.

By offering these actionable insights, Lucidity helps you optimize your cloud storage, reduce costs, and improve overall performance.

Lucidity storage audit report for finding disk utilization and saving opportunities

Once you understand your cloud's block storage, deploying Lucidity takes only about fifteen minutes and involves three straightforward steps:

  • Provide IAM permissions
  • Onboard your volumes

Once done, Lucidity starts taking care of managing provision for you.

Lucidity simple onboarding steps

One of Lucidity's main specialties is its auto-scaling engine. By gathering specific metrics such as disk utilization, IOPS, throughput, volume, etc., from the agent, it seamlessly processes and transmits instructions to the agent on whether block storage should be expanded or shrunk down while also adhering to your customization settings. 

Here are some of the benefits you are entitled to when you opt for Lucidity and implement it into your cloud infrastructure:

  • Maximum Cost-savings: By leveraging Lucidity, you can achieve up to 70% savings on your overall cloud bill. Lucidity optimizes your storage resources according to your requirements and removes underutilized resources that drive up costs. To identify further cost-saving opportunities, use Lucidity's ROI Calculator by inputting metrics such as disk spend, growth rate, and utilization.
ROI calculator to find how much you can get using Lucidity
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency and Zero Downtime: Lucidity's auto-scaler automates the storage provisioning process within your cloud environment, eliminating the need for costly, time-consuming, and error-prone manual actions. Manual cloud provisioning and maintenance can lead to downtime, which can be expensive for your company to recover from. Lucidity streamlines the entire process efficiently while maintaining the performance of your cloud's applications and resources, thus maximizing operational performance and minimizing disruption.
Benefits of using Lucidity for cloud infrastructure automation
  • Customized Policy: Lucidity's customized policy feature allows you to create and configure protocols tailored to your infrastructure needs. You can define and launch your policy by specifying parameters such as policy name, buffer size, maximum disk size, and disk utilization. Once your policy is set, Lucidity adheres to your preferences, enabling optimal right-sizing and instance management for your cloud infrastructure.
Lucidity custom policy feature for maintaining storage buffer
  • Seamless Integration: Lucidity integrates smoothly with a range of cloud service providers, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Integration typically occurs through API or agent-based methods, seamlessly incorporating Lucidity into your existing infrastructure without disruptions.

If you'd like to better understand how Lucidity works and how it can help you optimize cloud costs, feel free to contact us for a personalized demo

4. Incorporate Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment

Continuous Integration (CI) involves automatically and frequently integrating code changes into a shared repository. Continuous Deployment (CD) refers to the automated delivery of completed code to testing environments, followed by deployment when ready. Together, CI/CD streamlines the software development lifecycle, preventing downtimes and expediting the release process.

Integrating CI/CD into your cloud infrastructure can accelerate time-to-market, enhance software quality, and improve user experience. This can lead to a competitive edge in the market, fostering rapid innovation and efficient operations. 

5. Implement High-level Security and Compliance Measures

Your data and applications face constant cybersecurity threats, making it crucial to enhance security and compliance measures to safeguard your resources and protect your company's finances and reputation. Automating cloud security can close gaps across multi-cloud environments by continuously monitoring security threats and taking proactive steps to neutralize them. Automation also facilitates regular updates to security policies, ensuring they align with regulatory and industry standards, thereby boosting the resilience and defensibility of your cloud infrastructure.

Adopting a Compliance-as-Code approach is another best practice. It automates compliance assessments and ensures that security policies are updated and enforced using frameworks such as ISO 27001, HIPAA, GDPR, and others. This approach instills confidence in your stakeholders and helps you avoid legal complications.

6. Implement Auto-scaling

Auto-scaling your cloud infrastructure allows you to quickly adapt to changing market and demand conditions, ensuring peak performance and availability. By automating the scaling of your cloud environment, you can define rules and configurations for adjusting resources and databases based on current needs. This ensures your resources are available when needed and your cloud can handle excess capacity without downtime.

You can use Lucidity’s Block Storage auto-scaler for optimized block storage. This tool dynamically adjusts your storage resources in real-time based on usage and requirements, helping eliminate unnecessary costs from overprovisioning. Since the tool automatically scales block storage up or down, you can focus on higher-value tasks without the burden of manual labor.

7. Promote Visibility Across Environments

Many cloud platforms offer built-in visibility and discoverability features that you can leverage to enhance transparency. While you can customize these tools according to your needs, enhancing visibility in hybrid or multi-cloud environments can be challenging due to the limitations of aggregating data into a single view. Automation can bridge this gap using effective cloud monitoring tools like Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Jaeger.

Among various monitoring options, Lucidity is a valuable tool for real-time observability of your entire cloud's storage capabilities and utilization. The platform's all-access dashboard gathers real-time data on key metrics like ROI, disk utilization (pre and post-Lucidity), cost-savings, and disk coverage, providing a comprehensive overview of your cloud storage environment.

8. Follow Tagging Strategy for Automating Cloud Resources

Adopting a tagging strategy in your cloud environment is an effective practice for sorting, filtering, and automating the provisioning, configuration, and deployment of applications. Tags are identifiers or labels assigned to instances, allowing you to group them into categories for easy access and simplified management. Since tags serve as metadata, automation tools, and scripts can be used to identify and prioritize workflows for immediate automation.

Tagging also plays a crucial role in enforcing governance and compliance policies. Tags enable automated flagging and resolution of deviations, helping you avoid non-compliance issues and keeping your business on the right track. Tools such as Terraform and Ansible are excellent options for automating the tagging process within your cloud infrastructure.

9. Properly Plan Out Your Monitoring and Optimizing Cloud Costs

Monitoring and optimizing cloud costs is essential for controlling your cloud expenses. While tracking costs in a single environment is straightforward, managing multiple clouds can be more complex. Automation can help by using policies and alerts to access resources immediately, notify stakeholders of usage spikes, and optimize idle resources.

By integrating Lucidity into your infrastructure, your storage challenges can be resolved. The auto-scaler continuously monitors block storage and removes idle resources. This proactive approach can help you save on your cloud bill and prevent operational disruptions.

Maximizing Efficiency & Performance with Cloud Infrastructure Automation

Cloud infrastructure automation is a transformative approach that brings significant advantages to modern businesses. By implementing automation across various aspects of cloud infrastructure—such as Infrastructure as Code, CI/CD, auto-scaling, visibility, tagging, and cost monitoring—you can enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and drive innovation.

Automation empowers you to maintain high levels of security and compliance while optimizing costs and resource utilization. It also allows you to adapt swiftly to market demands and scale your operations seamlessly across hybrid or multi-cloud environments.

Ultimately, by leveraging automation, you can create a more agile, reliable, and efficient cloud infrastructure that supports your business's growth and helps you stay competitive in today's digital landscape. As technology evolves, continuing to embrace cloud infrastructure automation will be key to unlocking the full potential of your cloud investments.

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