Enterprise organizations today are increasingly relying on cloud-based infrastructure, platforms, and applications to deliver critical capabilities and services to the organization and its customers. Cloud computing helps IT organizations operate more efficiently, reducing up their up-front capital costs while providing flexible capacity for data storage, processing, and other functions.
Effective management of cloud-based resources is a growing challenge for enterprise IT, as organizations migrate existing applications to the cloud and develop new capabilities that depend on cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud computing systems deal with huge amounts of data across multiple cloud environments, making it difficult to establish and maintain coherent processes that depend on increasingly disparate systems. As a result, IT organizations have turned to a new type of cloud technology designed to facilitate the management of cloud-based infrastructure: cloud orchestration.
Cloud orchestration is a relatively new category of software tools designed to help IT organizations manage interconnections and interactions between disparate systems in increasingly complex cloud environments.
There are three main delivery models today for cloud services: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
In the SaaS model, the service provider makes an application available to the customer through a web-based interface. The customer can use the application according to the terms of their service agreement but has essentially no control or configuration options with respect to the underlying infrastructure.
In the PaaS model, the service provider is responsible for the networks, servers, storage, operating systems, middleware and data storage capabilities necessary to host the consumer's application. PaaS typically functions as a code execution platform under the pay-as-you-go model. In the IaaS model, service providers are responsible for only for network hardware, storage, and servers.
In the past, an IT organization that wished to establish the IT infrastructure to host an application would face significant barriers. They would make the initial business case and wait for approval from management before the hardware could be purchased. Then, IT operators would install an operating system, connect to and configure networking, set up an IP address, allocate some storage space for the application, configure security settings, deploy a database, and connect the server with back-end systems - all before even deploying the application.
Today, the IaaS cloud service model includes virtualization services that help to streamline and automate many of these processes that were previously done manually. Cloud service providers ensure that IT organizations can access secure, connected storage and computing power when they need it, and IT organizations can configure virtual machines to deploy applications instead of waiting for approval on costly hardware purchases.
This brings us back to cloud orchestration: a new category of cloud technology that makes it easier for IT organizations to manage cloud infrastructure. Cloud orchestration is the end-to-end automation of the deployment of services in a cloud-based environment. Cloud orchestration tools take full advantage of the capabilities of IaaS service providers to achieve a fully automated deployment process, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual processes that characterized IT deployments in the past.
With cloud orchestration tools, IT organizations can streamline the allocation of resources, coordinate the distribution of workloads between cloud-based resources and organize the deployment of a service on multiple servers or cloud environments.
Cloud orchestration and cloud automation are both technologies that help IT organizations and software developers automate repetitive processes in the cloud, so on the surface, it seems like they could be used interchangeably. In fact, while cloud orchestration and automation are closely related, there are a few key differences you should know about.
Cloud automation is a subset of cloud orchestration. When we talk about cloud automation, we're looking at a single task and asking "How can we automate this task"? Cloud automation tools can automate singular processes effectively, like spinning up a batch of virtual machines with dedicated storage or deploying applications to the cloud with a specified configuration.
Cloud orchestration introduces and enforces a process flow for automated activities. It allows IT operators to take a set of automated processes and combine them into a specified workflow that fully automates the delivery of the service from the initial request through to completion. Cloud orchestration is all about process control - it uses automated tasks as building blocks to coordinate more complex processes that can involve multiple resources across cloud environments to meet client requests.
Cloud orchestration tools work by combining other automated tasks into a workflow that delivers a service according to customer requests. These automated tasks include the provisioning and deployment of servers, virtual machines, storage space, and other computing resources. Orchestration tools can also integrate security and permissions checks. The ability to effectively orchestrate automated tasks on the cloud delivers numerous benefits for IT organizations:
Increased Operational Efficiency
Cloud orchestration simplifies the management of repetitive tasks through automation. IT organizations can configure and optimize automated tasks, then use those tasks as building blocks to create customized end-to-end process automation. This makes it easier to effectively coordinate physical and virtual resources, scale infrastructure according to requirements, manage security and authorization requirements and numerous other aspects of cloud management. IT organizations save huge amounts of time and money by leveraging cloud orchestration tools to reduce their need to perform manual processes.
Supporting DevOps Initiatives
Software development teams that are striving for continuous deployment and working in cloud-based environments can benefit significantly from cloud orchestration software tools that help automate the deployment process. The ability to automate server provisioning, network and server configurations, firewalls and application testing and monitoring in production helps developers focus on their most valuable activity: designing and delivering frequent updates to meet consumer and business needs.
Enhanced Security and Visibility
One of the leading causes of cloud security breaches occurs when IT operators make simple network configuration errors that expose sensitive data. Cloud orchestration makes it easy for IT organizations to leverage their available resources for continuous vulnerability scans, compliance testing, and configuration validation. The ability to implement standardized configurations and re-use them as building blocks of other processes helps to avoid errors in configuration set-up that can cause data breaches.
Sumo Logic offers specialized applications for monitoring your cloud orchestration software tools, including the Kubernetes Control Plane and the VMware cloud computing virtualization platform. With Sumo Logic, you can easily aggregate logs from across your cloud environments and achieve full monitoring and visibility of metrics and events on the network.
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