Migrating your data to the cloud is a huge undertaking, rife with challenges and obstacles. It’s also an opportunity to simplify your life if you choose the right solution. Cloud BI is becoming increasingly common, as more organizations put their data on the cloud. BI providers have responded by offering a range of options to deliver the analytical horsepower users demand, with the simplicity they have come to expect from cloud-based solutions.
Meanwhile, cloud automation tools allow you to free yourself from tedious database tasks by taking care of the provisioning, configuration, and management of your cloud-based infrastructure for you. This allows you and your team to focus on higher-value tasks that actually advance your organization’s mission. While most of these tools can be used with any cloud service, we’ll look at two broad categories: general cloud automation tools and AWS automation tools, the latter dealing specifically with cloud offerings from the Seattle tech giant.
Before we jump into the specific solutions, let’s talk about what automation looks like and why you want it.
Automate to Dominate
Think of all the tedious tasks you do as part of your day.
Now imagine them all going away forever. Automating during your cloud migration won’t make all your most-hated tasks disappear, but it’s a start. While you’re moving all your data over to your chosen cloud solution you can choose to use a service to handle the tedious details for you so that you can stay on top of the larger challenges that only a human can solve.
In addition to not having to personally deal with provisioning, configuring, and managing your data and infrastructure during the migration, automating also speeds up the whole process, reducing your company’s risk during migration. A quicker migration means less chance of an outage or lack of availability of the data you need to handle your mission-critical tasks. It can also help lower the unit costs of the individual workload, making automation a win for you and your company’s bottom line.
Next up: cloud automation solutions.
Cloud Automation Solutions: Simplifying Complex Migrations
Every migration has a ton of moving parts and it’s easy to miss something important or forget to prioritize a specific department’s needs, only finding out when they need to run a query or perform analyses and they’re unable to. Take the guesswork out of your migration and stay on top of the big picture with help from Puppet, Ansible, or Kuburnetes.
Puppet has been in the cloud automation solutions world for a while and is a strong contender when scale is a must—basic deployments of Puppet Enterprise (the commercial version) can run up to 20,000 nodes! It also allows you to handle every part of your cloud infrastructure: computing, storage, network resources, you name it.
Another of Puppet’s assets is versatility, as you can run it on public, private, and hybrid cloud systems. To deploy Puppet, you install individual agents on managed nodes and handle all admin via a centralized system called Puppet Master/Server. A GUI allows you to classify and manage your cloud machines and you can write more complex commands using its domain-specific language (DSL). It’s worth noting that Puppet Master it made for Linux distributions, but you can run Puppet clients on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
If you’re dealing with a migration that includes a ton of nodes and you’re already a Linux fan, this could be the solution for you. (Special mention: Puppet Enterprise’s AWS Opswork option includes a full suite of automation tools, so this one is also useful if you have an AWS product.)
Ansible, part of the Red Hat family of products, is all about ease of use. One of its main selling points is its simple DSL, which users employ to create “playbooks” that manage all aspects of the automating, configuring, and orchestrating tasks. Interestingly, you can do this without installing agents inside your cloud infrastructure.
There are two versions of Ansible to choose from: Ansible Open Source (free) and Ansible Tower (not free). The commercial version, Ansible Tower, lets you schedule jobs, manage inventory via a GUI, and even implement multi-playbook workflows. It’s also got a REST API that’s highly customizable and lets you embed Ansible Tower in most task-based configuration management processes. Ansible works with pretty much every system out there (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Google Cloud Computing, etc.), so whatever you’re using, they have you covered.
Lovers of all things cloud-native will know all about Kubernetes. Originally a Google creation, Kubernetes handles container orchestration to automate, scale, and manage containerized applications. It’s such an important program that it pretty much sets the standard for container orchestration, per the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
Kubernetes leans into the whole cloud-native thing, simplifying deployment and operation of apps based on a microservices architecture compatible with almost any cloud. Let Kuburnetes control resource consumption, load-balance, and more, while your dev teams focus on pushing out new applications. If you’re working on a cloud-native project and need a system that easily handles containerized applications, Kuburnetes could be for you.
AWS Automation Tools
You can’t hear “the cloud” without thinking “AWS.” From a humble beginning selling books out of a garage, the Seattle ecommerce giant dove headfirst into cloud computing and established itself as a leader in the field. It’s no wonder that software companies of all kinds are going cloud-native and putting their entire offering on the cloud, including AWS BI tools. If you’re migrating to an AWS solution, you definitely need to know about these two AWS automation tools: AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS Code Deploy. (Though, again, Puppet, Ansible, and a variety of other solutions can be used with AWS).
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
It doesn’t get much simpler than this for AWS migrations: this is a free service from AWS that lets you only pay for the resources provisioned by Beanstalk. It also handles apps written in a slew of languages (PHP, .Net, Ruby, Java, Python, the list goes on) and has native Docker support. It deploys quickly and easily across your EC2 instances, and if there are any failures, it automatically rolls back to prior instances. It’s also seamlessly integrated with an array of AWS services, including Autoscaling, Elastic Load Balancer, and many others. Peace of mind also comes standard, as CloudWatch and SNS notifications keep you apprised of any service issues.
AWS Code Deploy
The second of our two AWS automation tools to be aware of is AWS Code Deploy. First off, it allows you to deploy to thousands of targets across different environments. It also integrates with other configuration management tools like Puppet, Ansible, and more (in case you started using one of them before reading this article!), plus version control tools (GitHub, etc.) and continuous integration tools (Bamboo, etc.), and other AWS services like AWS CloudFormation, AWS OpWorks, AutoScaling, and many others. So you’ve got this all-in-one solution that pulls together any other programs you may be using and lets you manage and monitor them from one centralized location and includes reports for your deployment process.
It also allows you to run scripts and establish permissions during a variety of lifecycle events (ApplicationStop, BeforeInstall, etc). If you’re using a collection of AWS features and maybe some third-party software as well, AWS Code Deploy could be just the thing to bring everything together in one place for you.
Your migration is a big lift for your company and your team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it and come out ahead. Whatever you’re building, don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. Pick the cloud automation tool that suits your needs and let it do some of the heavy lifting for you. Then you can focus on smoothing over issues, putting out fires, and contributing to your company’s overall mission (and maybe you’ll even leave work on time!).