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Cloud automation is the process of using virtual machine templates and configuration tools to set up and deploy cloud computing workloads. Automation aims to make all activities related to cloud computing as fast, efficient, and as hands off as possible through the use of various software tools installed directly on the virtualization platform and controlled via an intuitive interface. Cloud automation eliminates the repetitive and manual processes involved with workload deployment and management. Orchestration and automation tools running on top of a virtualized environment enable an IT administrator to codify the various processes involved with workload deployment, then invoke the processes automatically in the proper sequence, without human intervention.

Cloud automation involves deploying virtual machines, server clusters, storage clusters and virtual networks, as well as monitoring and managing the health of the entire system. With cloud automation, the setup of an entire fleet of uniform virtual machines can be done in a few steps, as opposed to setting up each one individually. The operator simply selects a few options and ticks some boxes. Automation software is either sold by third-party vendors or comes as part of the chosen virtualization platform.

Cloud automation is meant to alleviate the complexity of cloud computing. When implemented properly, cloud automation saves an IT team time and money. It also leads to fewer errors, as organizations can construct more predictable and reliable workflows, thus improving IT and corporate governance. IT teams can apply cloud automation to private, public and hybrid cloud environments. Cloud automation is a central element of workload lifecycle management. Workloads in the cloud are rarely long-term entities, and an admin can use cloud automation to remove them, along with their configuration items, when they’re no longer needed.