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October 04, 2017
The value of automation in cloud migration and management
By: Sean Peterson

Automation is fundamental to a successful cloud journey—not just during the initial migration, but also during ongoing optimization of the cloud environment. A variety of emerging and maturing tools are assuming a lot of the heavy lifting associated with cloud migration and management and in doing so, they’re helping companies increase their migration speed, reduce risk, and boost the overall quality and precision of their decision making.

Accenture is a huge proponent of automation. In fact, Accenture today uses automation in every migration. We use tooling we developed to help with migration planning and execution, and reporting. And we leverage automation tools underneath to drive programmatic activities. After “go-live,” we use other tools—most notably, Accenture Cloud Platform—to deliver precise cost controls, governance and accountability in cloud consumption.


#Automation & the #cloud work hand-in-hand. For full reward, business leaders should keep 4 thoughts in mind:

 
 

Automation reduces cost, time and risk

Automating much of what’s required to migrate applications to the cloud lowers the unit costs of the individual workload being migrated and reduces migration time to fit into increasingly tighter migration windows. Reduced time translates into reduced risk of exposure to an outage: You cut the amount of time in which the business has its feet in both boats, so to speak.

Automation streamlines migration key work activities.

  • Tooling advancements: Advancements in tooling make it possible to automate the migration of the Virtual Machine itself, as well as the data (both at the storage level, as well as in translating the data from the current environment to the cloud). ACCELERATE is one example of such tooling, which is an important element of the Accenture Cloud Factory.

  • Automated scripts: Scripts also are available to manage a variety of pre-and post-migration activities that make each workload unique. Automated scripts, which are generated by a synchronization tool, describe the precise steps required to change a particular database from one version to another—i.e., from an on-premise to a cloud version.

  • Controller level automation: And there’s automation for the controller level that helps with planning ahead of time, as well as coordination during migration: what people involved need to do month by month, week by week, day by day, hour by hour.

Automation can optimize your cloud presence on an ongoing basis

  • Some automation tools are part of the native cloud platform capabilities. For example, Microsoft Azure Automation within the Azure Operations Management Suite provides a way for users to automate the manual and frequently repeated tasks that are commonly performed in a cloud and enterprise environment. And AWS OpsWorks, a configuration management service, automates how servers are configured, deployed, and managed across the cloud and on-premises compute environments.

  • Also valuable is a multi-cloud management platform with a compilation of dozens of discrete underlying tools and technologies such as the Accenture Cloud Platform (ACP) with Cloud Managed Services (CMS). For example, via ACP you can get self-service requesting, provisioning and deployment of virtual infrastructure across an expansive list of global infrastructure providers. This automated functionality allows users to build, deploy and manage their own virtual infrastructure and cloud solutions. It also automates and orchestrates repeatable manual tasks, and provides automated alerting, notifications and event management. And some application-specific tooling is available. For example, Accenture used a combination of ACP and native capabilities to build runbooks for SAP, which enables a company to gracefully turn the application off and on as needed without manual intervention.

The fact is, automation and the cloud work hand in hand.

But to benefit the most from automation, you should keep in mind four key thoughts:

  1. Don’t lose sight of the value proposition. Because if you don’t really know what the ultimate value will be, you’ll end up simply automating for automation’s sake. And whether it’s labor savings, quality improvements, efficiency increases or something else, make sure it’s measurable, so you’ll know if you’re getting what you signed up for.

  2. Standardize the service or capability you’re trying to automate as much as possible. If you use a lot of permutations, the automation itself becomes brittle and difficult to maintain. And there go the benefits you hoped to gain.

  3. Automate from the beginning. If you’re going to stand up an environment, don’t add automation after the fact. Instead, infuse it as early as possible and keep iterating on it. By building it into the environment from the outset, you’ll magnify the benefits.

  4. Stick with it. Automation requires extra effort. When a system goes down, resist the effort to simply fix the outage and not the automation that deployed it. If you don’t, your automation will atrophy and ultimately become useless.

One of the big limitations companies face in migrating to the cloud is marshaling enough resources to handle all the tasks associated with getting applications from the on-premises environment to the cloud. Automating these tasks is fundamental to a successful cloud journey—starting with the initial migration and ongoing to the optimization of the cloud environment.


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