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What is Azure Automation?

Microsoft Toolset for automating infrastructure reduces the probability of errors through manual execution. Let's explore it further.

In this section, you’ll learn about automation. You’ll discover Azure Automation and find out how it addresses automation scenarios and enables and accelerates DevOps.

What is automation?

Automation, or the minimisation of manual effort, is a core method driving DevOps. It employs scripts and configuration, with the goal of never having to perform the same manual activity twice.

DevOps is the optimisation of the relationship between developers and information technology (IT) professionals. Automation brings them together by promoting use and familiarity with the same processes and tools. The end result is that the job is easier on both sides.

Benefits of automation

Reproducing environments automatically brings many benefits to the development lifecycle.

Let’s take a look at them.

  • Automation frees people from performing repetitive, monotonous work. This also helps to eliminate mistakes.
  • Automation gives people more time to work on creative ways to provide strategic value to the company.
  • Automated processes are faster than their manual counterparts.
  • Automation improves the quality of the entire release process because it standardises important steps such as deployments. Ensuring well-understood processes and environments results in predictable outcomes.
  • Automation reduces costs if you take a medium-or-long-term viewpoint. Once they’re in place, automated processes cost less than manual processes.

Azure Automation

Manual execution of environment provisioning and configuration management is both laborious and error-prone. DevOps advocates automation to reduce the probability of errors introduced through manual execution, and automation delivers the added advantage of being able to carry out the work more quickly without relying on subject experts.

Azure Automation is a service offering within Azure. Because it’s a hosted managed service, you don’t have to set up any infrastructure yourself. It helps you automate the manual operational tasks that you have within the organisation. It gives you an interface to script, test and execute all the operational tasks that are a part of your application lifecycle management process for server provisioning and server configuration.

Server Provisioning

Server provisioning has a lot to do with runbooks, a term that was borrowed and has evolved from the era of traditional IT server management. A runbook is simply a set of scripts or a set of steps that need to be performed when a problem occurs in production.

Azure Automation allows you not only to create these runbooks from within Azure but at the same time, leverage the ecosystem that surrounds Azure Automation. It also allows you to operate and monitor runbooks and track its’ successes and failures.

Server Configuration

Server configuration is about managing the state of the environment or server. Azure Automation gives you an engine for managing the desired state.

Automation Tasks

Azure Automation is not the only way to automate within Azure. You can use open-source tools to perform some of these operations, but the integration hooks available to Azure Automation remove much of the integration complexity that you would have to manage if you performed these operations manually.

The following are some common automation tasks:

  • Disaster recovery. Deploy new instances of Azure resources quickly within an alternative Azure datacentre after a disaster occurs. Resources might include Azure virtual machines (VMs), virtual networks or cloud services in addition to database servers.
  • Provisioning. Perform initial and subsequent provisioning of a complete deployment. For example, a virtual network where you assign VMs to it, create cloud services and join the services to the same virtual network.
  • State management. Apply DSC to manage the state of your machines.
  • Running backups. Azure Automation is very helpful for running regular backups of non-database systems, such as backing up Blob storage at certain intervals.
  • Deploying patches. Azure Automation allows you to develop a runbook to manage the updates at scheduled times to manage patch remediation. Ensure machines continually align with the configured security policy.
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Microsoft Future Ready: DevOps Development, Implementation and Azure Automation

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