I believe cloud automation has the potential to truly shape the way we interact with technology. And even more importantly: How technology interacts with different systems.
But before we get into all that, let’s break it down a little bit.
DevOps cloud automation is a new category. A category that combines test automation and RPA, but runs in the cloud. This category is still shaping out — but already today, it is a reality to have both DevOps teams and cloud bots working with cloud infrastructures.
As we know, bots are using the internet as we speak. 🤖
Let’s start with an example: You have a web service. By using simple regression testing, you can set up a cloud bot that checks and tests your services at any predefined intervals.
Now, let’s look even further. New software tools keep popping up all the time. The interconnected world we live in has companies relying on software that traditionally operates in the offline world.
Think of an apartment block. How many things are connected through different software? You have your heating, an elevator, maybe fridges?
Where do all these things come from? Most likely, that apartment building doesn’t have a designated person who manually moves the elevator every time someone wants to go up and down, but instead, the system is automated.
Cloud automation is about using artificial intelligence for interfaces that are designed for humans to make processes more efficient and reduce the manual workload. But here, the software runs in the cloud instead of a physical room or server.
If you want to know more about DevOps automation and cloud automation tools, you can find our guide to DevOps automation here.
The current state of cloud automation
When it comes to technical capabilities, we are already quite advanced in this space.
But what is lagging behind is the adoption. This is surely about to change soon, companies are looking for solutions to the problem. Think of it in a business context: What if you could automate your procurement processes? What if you could have a bot running manual tasks that are currently taking a lot of time from your team?
Beyond the business context, there is a lot of potential on the consumer side, too.
Imagine if you never had to do your grocery shopping again. Instead, there would be a bot that would help in designing a healthy and well-balanced diet, as well as ordering it for you.
In order for all this to be possible, bots need to be built in a way that enables them to use interfaces originally designed for humans.
What is the real value that cloud automation brings?
Whenever AI or automation is up for discussion, there is always a concern that humans will become obsolete and people will lose their jobs.
This is nothing new, and the same worry existed at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Actually, this happens whenever a new technology is introduced. But as we very well know: Video did not kill the radio star, nor did TV kill print media.
The only thing that happens with new technologies is that the context changes.
Humans are designed to solve problems and adapt, and we always do. Even in a highly automated world — but with advanced automation technology, we will simply live a bit more efficiently.
The value cloud automation brings is all about automating routine tasks that are usually done even better through automation. Computers don’t make human errors, and they typically perform certain tasks a lot faster.
While robots are doing their thing, people are freed up to work on tasks that require a human touch, as well as more creative sides of the business. This means things like innovation and creating new business models or services.
For businesses, there is a clear competitive edge that comes with cloud automation. Those who are among the first movers now will end up with the best advantage.
Naturally, automation reduces costs, saves time and arrives at the same, or a better, outcome.
But what about cloud security?
With public cloud environments, and frankly our entire lives, there is always the question of security.
Is the cloud less secure, as often feared?
No, it’s not. Security is an evolutionary requirement for the cloud. The cloud is built to be open and technically accessible, but this is exactly why it has to be secure by design. Otherwise it would not have survived.
Security is an important topic because many companies who haven’t been software companies from birth are now working with different cloud solutions, and there can be mishaps when it comes to security.
This is why companies need to have security built into their culture.
There was a recent case where a water plant was subject to hacking. But it wasn’t the cloud that was not secure — or the automation, for that matter — it was the system itself that hadn’t been properly set up.
The cloud will help you make everything accessible from different places.
Especially with the COVID pandemic and people working remotely, companies can no longer rely on local installations, environments and machines. It’s simply not sustainable.
Before you start your cloud automation process...
I want to highlight a couple of things that are crucial to keep in mind when you move toward cloud automation.
Don’t automate bad habits
If you really like your process, you might be inclined to replicate it to the cloud. You can do this, of course, but then the bot will have the same bad habits as you. When you set out to automate things I’d recommend you to clearly go through all your ways of working and processes to make sure you are doing things in a way that makes sense.
Not only does this create transparency, but it will also save you from creating a bot version that is the accumulation of your bad habits that you have developed as a business for as long as you’ve existed.
✅ Map out your ways of working before automating any processes.
Don’t forget that automation is still people-based
Especially when you think of DevOps and cloud automation together, this is a relevant thing to bring up.
It’s actually both an advantage and a disadvantage. DevOps is all about creating a culture that unifies both IT and development departments towards continuous delivery, improvement, learning, and deployment.
Your DevOps culture can be codified into automation tools. The culture that previously relied on people will stay with your company even longer than those people. In other words, even if people leave, your culture will not fall apart.
But of course, caution is needed because if you automate a bad culture that will have the same effect as automating bad habits.
✅ When your DevOps culture is in a good place, make sure it stays around.
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