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06 December 2022 Blog Formpipe Cloud Platform SaaS Private Sector Interview

Top 6 Benefits of Cloud Automation

As the economic crisis continues to take its toll on businesses globally, many CFOs will be considering where they can optimise key business areas to save costs. By investing in cloud automation, organisations could improve efficiency, enhance scalability, and ultimately save much-needed funds.

In this article, we look at the top six benefits of cloud automation, with insights from Tomas Rudh, Formpipe’s Cloud Infrastructure Manager. He shares his own personal experience in automating cloud services and provides expert knowledge on how this can help businesses improve operational effectiveness and reduce cloud spend.

What is cloud automation?

Cloud automation refers to the process of using software to reduce manual engineering tasks by simplifying cloud-based services. It allows tech teams and software developers to create, modify and eliminate cloud resources automatically, saving time and reducing errors.

Tomas Rudh says: “Automation is important because it assures consistency and reduces the risk for mistakes. A script can perform any task, no matter how complex, without mistakes, every time.”

Cloud automation is not built into the cloud and needs the right expertise and access to specialised tools. Whether you’ve recently migrated to the cloud or been cloud-based for a while, it could be difficult to determine whether investing in automation is the right move for your business. However, you could improve scalability, enhance security and lessen IT costs by putting in the hard work now.

Eliminate unnecessary resources

By replacing manual configuration processes with automated ones, it’s possible to manage cloud resources more efficiently, with less human surveillance. This ensures that cloud resources are always in a known, consistent state and identifies underused or idle resources. As over 90% of AWS users have at least a few resources that are underutilised, it’s important to streamline IT focus and identify these resources through cloud automation.

Tomas explains: “With cloud automation, you’re able to constantly monitor resources for utilisation. This allows you to scale down underutilised resources, but, just as importantly, also scale up when needed.”

By finding and removing underused assets, businesses can reallocate resources to more critical operations.

Greater visibility

Cloud automation provides you the data needed to easily keep track of everything within your cloud environment. This visibility allows businesses to make more accurate, data-informed decisions along with a greater understanding of cloud costs and how to optimise spend. Automation software also allows for real-time notifications that are sent whenever a change occurs, enabling engineers to easily identify operational issues within the cloud environment.

“We have reports and alerts sent to us from Formpipe Cloud regularly, because all environments look the same alerts will also be consistent, making it easier to evaluate a possible problem.” says Tomas. “Should we get a problem in one environment, we can very rapidly assess if that could affect other environments.”

Increases team collaboration

Cloud technology enables all team members to access files and assets easily by working together on one collaborative platform. As cloud automation boosts visibility, everybody in the team can work from a transparent environment where they can group together to make data-backed recommendations and optimisation decisions.

With better collaboration and more time to focus on core tasks, cloud automation can also boost morale and productivity among engineers. This, in turn, can improve staff retention and save on recruitment costs later down the line.

Simplify cloud processes and improve efficiency

Adopting the cloud brings a complex infrastructure that could cause operational problems if not handled correctly. Cloud automation software can help organisations reduce the risk of complexities associated with these deployments and provide a level of standardisation.

In addition, cloud automation enables businesses to deliver faster, more dependable services and improves cloud efficiency. This means that businesses can easily change direction, optimise when needed, and scale with ease. By right-sizing cloud resources, eliminating waste, and accessing data insights, IT teams can increase the performance of their cloud environment.

Tomas says: “When we need to work in an environment in Formpipe Cloud we are greatly helped by the fact that they all look the same, we don't need to search for passwords for example, they are stored in the same way in all environments. Because the Formpipe Cloud setup is highly standardised we can install almost everything with scripts. Reducing time to install, and minimise risk for mistakes.”

Cost savings

By automating time-consuming tasks, reducing time wastage, and eliminating idle resources, cloud automation can help tech functions reduce spend and make better use of allocated budgets. In 2022, 32% of cloud spend went to waste on unnecessary resources. By automating cloud services, operational costs are minimised, and businesses have extra funds to use on other core business areas.

IT teams can also reduce spend on training and developing engineers to install, troubleshoot and maintain cloud resources. With less need to continually handle operational issues and crises, tech teams can focus on revenue-generating tasks.

“So when we first started Formpipe Cloud, we deployed everything manually and it took almost a day,” said Tomas. “And because the deployment consists of so many steps, there’s a big risk for something to be missed or overlooked. When you have done the same setup a couple of times it is easy to think you remember all steps and not read the documentation as carefully any longer. With a scripted install, the deployment is done in about 30 minutes, without missing a step. This helps us save time and reduce costs.”

Improve security and governance

Automating sensitive tasks means businesses don’t need multiple engineers and IT staff to log into critical systems. This means that the risk of malicious actors, human errors, and data leakage is greatly reduced. Automation workflows can also be designed with built-in security best practices, ensuring consistent cybersecurity principles in all deployments.

Cloud automation also provides businesses with automatic backups, protecting organisations against cyberattacks along with accidental erasure, equipment failure, and data loss.

The standardised nature of cloud automation frameworks means that resources can be set up in an always-compliant, controlled environment and provide a centralised way to control infrastructure.

Tomas said: “There always has to be a balance between cost, usability and security. But security does and should always come first. Every customer in Formpipe Cloud has its own internet address and its own certificate to secure traffic. All of those certificates are stored in a single repository and are automatically renewed when needed by a scheduled script.”

How to successfully automate cloud the cloud environment

Cloud automation is no easy task and requires the right people and the right tools. Businesses can leverage cloud automation technologies offered by a public cloud vendor, a private cloud platform, or third-party cloud tools which can perform automation in cloud environments.

When it comes to tips on successfully automating the cloud, Tomas says:

“Always be vigilant and tune into news on Azure, because Microsoft constantly changes and tweaks the resources. Also keep in mind that just because you have a functionality implemented in a way that works, that doesn't mean there isn't a better or cheaper way to do things.”

Employing a test-and-learn approach is also crucial when undergoing any cloud project. This enables tech teams to spot any errors and mitigate them instantly before anything goes live. Plus, be aware that not all cloud features necessarily need to be automated.

Tomas explains: “It is very important to test the scripts thoroughly before using them in production. But also consider the fact that not everything needs to be automated. It might not be worth the effort to automate things that might vary between environments, or is done very rarely.”

Enhance your cloud offering with Formpipe Cloud

Formpipe Cloud takes the complexity out of cloud services and allows you to concentrate on what’s most important to your business - delivering first-class solutions to your customers. Remove headaches such as backups, maintenance, hosting, and upgrades, and allow us to do the heavy lifting for you.

With Formpipe Cloud, you pay less than you would with on-premise solutions while allowing for greater scalability and security. Our SaaS team works to ISO 27001 standards to ensure that systems and processes are always correctly configured and regulated.

Are you interested in learning how to improve the efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness of your cloud environment? Chat to a member of our team about Formpipe Cloud and request a demo here.