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Gain Efficiencies and Lower Risk with Cloud Automation



The public cloud is a cornerstone of digital transformation, supporting the deployment of advanced technologies like AI and big data analytics, facilitating data-driven decision-making and operational efficiency.

However, there are challenges that many customers face as they expand public cloud use to leverage these emerging use cases. These challenges include cost management, security, compliance, management complexity, performance optimization, and a need for cloud skills. The encouraging news is the ability to automate processes and workflows to address these challenges dramatically increases with cloud adoption.

Maximizing Efficiency with Cloud Automation

Cloud automation enhances efficiency, reliability, and scalability in cloud environments. Automating repetitive tasks, reduces the risk of human error and frees up resources for more strategic work. Whether one is in IT management or operations, on a development team, or working directly as a CloudOps professional, automating cloud processes can be a huge timesaver. Automation also helps achieve cost efficiency by optimizing resource usage and reducing operational overhead. Additionally, it ensures compliance and security by consistently applying policies and standards. According to G2’s report Technology Trends 2024, more than 50% of cloud solutions are predicted to incorporate automation capabilities to enhance usability and simplicity by 2025.

Enhancing Strategic Flexibility with Cloud Orchestration

For businesses, cloud automation means quicker deployments, better management of cloud resources, and the ability to respond swiftly to changing market demands, making it a key component in modern IT strategies. Cloud automation must be scalable and flexible, designed to evolve with the business to be effective.

In this era where efficiency and compliance are paramount, solutions require that they are as innovative as they are flexible. This level of customization is crucial in addressing diverse requirements such as data sovereignty and security compliance. When exploring automation opportunities, it is important to target policy/configuration management solutions that allow for continual evaluation (configuration drift), as well as automatic reporting and remediation. A comprehensive policy-based approach allows different business units/individuals to operate independently while still adhering to company standards, maintaining critical cloud agility without compromising security and governance.

When developing a policy-based cloud automation approach, consider the following guidelines:

  • Identify the business objectives and requirements that need to be enforced by policies. These can be derived from various sources, such as regulations, industry standards, organizational best practices, or security preferences.
  • Prioritize tasks based on frequency of execution, potential time savings, risk association and cost optimization.
  • Translate the business rules into logical and technical expressions that can be applied to cloud resources. For example, a business rule that requires all data to be encrypted at rest can be translated into a policy condition that checks if the encryption property of a storage account is enabled.
  • Define the policy parameters and effects that specify how the policy should be implemented. Parameters are variables that allow users to customize the policy for different scenarios or environments. Effects are actions that the policy takes when a resource is non-compliant, such as audit, deny, append, or modify.

The Power of Azure Policy in Cloud Automation

One of the key features of cloud automation is the ability to enforce policies across different resources and environments. Azure Policy is a service that allows users to create, assign, and manage policies that govern their Azure resources. Policies can be used to ensure compliance with organizational standards, regulatory requirements, or best practices. For example, policies can restrict the locations, sizes, types, or tags of resources, or enforce specific configurations or settings.

Azure Policy works by evaluating the state of resources against the defined policy rules. If a resource is non-compliant, Azure Policy can either report the violation or automatically remediate it, depending on the policy effect. Users can monitor and audit the compliance status of their resources through the Azure portal, PowerShell, or API. Users can also create custom policies or use the built-in policies provided by Microsoft. Additionally, Azure Policy can integrate with other services, such as Azure Blueprints, Azure Security Center, or Azure DevOps, to enable end-to-end governance and automation of cloud resources.

Policy Design and Implementation

There are certain considerations you need to keep in mind when implementing policy/policy-as-code into your cloud management process:

  • Choosing the right level of granularity and scope for the policies. Policies can be applied at different levels, such as management groups, subscriptions, resource groups, or individual resources. Policies can also target specific resource types, properties, or conditions. Users need to balance the trade-off between flexibility and consistency when defining policies.
  • Designing and maintaining the policy definitions and parameters. Policies are written in code and can use logical operators, functions, and expressions to specify the policy rules. Users need to ensure that the policies are clear, accurate, and up-to-date with the changes in the cloud environment. Users also need to provide meaningful and user-friendly parameter values and descriptions for the policies.
  • Evaluating and enforcing the policy effects. Policies can have different effects depending on the compliance status of the resources. For example, audit policies can log the non-compliant resources, deny policies can block the creation or modification of non-compliant resources, append policies can add missing properties or settings to the resources, and modify policies can change the existing properties or settings of the resources. Users need to test and verify the policy effects before applying them to the production environment. Users also need to monitor and review the policy compliance reports and remediate any issues or exceptions.

Leveraging Azure Policy for Automation

The following are capabilities that Ensono leverages to implement and operate cloud environments for our clients:

  • Azure Policy for Governance: Utilizing Azure policy for configuration management at the Azure layer and the operating system level. This includes enforcing rules related to business practices and compliance. For example, policies can restrict deployment regions (platform), or enforce the installation + registration of monitoring agents (Operating System).
  • Comprehensive Policy Set for managing cloud environments: Develop and deploy policies encompassing all aspects necessary for valuable managed services, like patching, backup , antivirus, and OS configuration settings.
  • Customizable Customer-Specific Policies: Extend policies to align with custom business practices and compliance requirements. These policies can ensure that their cloud resources are managed in a way that is consistent with their organizational standards and goals.
  • Assistance with compliance: Leveraging policy for compliance (PCI, HIPAA) and operational efficiency, notably in provisioning environments and corporate standards.
  • Scalable and Flexible Policy Implementation: Combining auditing and enforcement policies for flexibility and managing these through source control and deployment at scale.
  • Tag-Based Automation for VMs: Implementing policies triggered by tags for backups, patching, and monitoring of virtual machines. Specific actions can then be automatically performed on virtual machines based on the tags assigned to them
  • In-Guest Policy Capabilities (also known as automanage): Expanding capabilities to govern elements at the Linux or Windows operating system level.
  • Azure Arc for hybrid environments: Cloud automation should aim to extend policy management into hybrid environments using centralized tools like Azure Arc.

These approaches ensure clients benefit from efficient deployment and robust policy management, ultimately improving business processes and outcomes.

Role Ensono Plays in Automating your Cloud

Ensono enables automation by implementing comprehensive and tailored solutions, ensuring customer environments conform to industry best practices and specific business requirements. This includes managing configurations at both the cloud and the operating system levels.

At Ensono, we understand that automation is a key driver in maintaining industry compliance standards while boosting operational efficiency. Reducing management overhead, we help businesses streamline their operations and focus on core objectives. Our innovation is continuous, adapting our services to meet the ever-changing cloud technology landscape and customer needs. With our expertise and forward-thinking approach, we are your trusted ally in navigating the complexities of cloud automation.

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