Basics of Azure Automation
Automation leads from the forefront of all IT solutions for businesses. If a process is redundant, you use technological resources to automate it. If a process is time-consuming, you find a way to automate it. If a task doesn’t carry a ton of value and you don’t need a person working on it, yet again you automate it. This is the simple theory behind Automation.
Azure Automation is one of those techniques that allow you to automate your tasks in a cloud-based environment. Let’s look at Azure Automation Accounts in detail and answer some important questions like what is Azure Automation and why to use it in this post.
Table of Contents
- What is Azure Automation?
- Why use Azure Automation?
- What are the different categories of Azure Automation?
- How to create an Azure Automation account?
- What are the benefits of Azure Automation?
- Final Thoughts
What is Azure Automation?
Azure Automation is all about automating manual and repetitive tasks in the cloud environment. This means that you don’t need a Virtual Machine or a physical machine. It allows you to automate tasks on a cloud environment that is hosted by Microsoft Azure.
Azure Automation is also referred to as Azure Runbook frequently. Runbook enables organizations to save time and increase the reliability of regular executive tasks.
Why use Azure Automation?
There are 2 major reasons why you can use Azure Automation for your business -
- The specified task is repetitive
- The task does not require human interaction
In both these cases, Azure Automation can be deployed to lower operational costs and increase output performance. Apart from these, you can use Azure Automation for several other reasons too. For example, some businesses use Azure Automation for managing their virtual machines at scale. The sky is the limit for what you can do with the power of Microsoft Azure.
What are the different categories of Azure Automation?
Now that you have a basic understanding of Microsoft Azure’s use cases, let’s take a look at their categories. From the type of their tasks and way it is carried out, Azure Automation can be divided into 5 categories -
- Process Automation
- Configuration Management
- Update Management
- Shared capabilities
- Heterogeneous Support
Process Automation allows you to automate tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming. You can use process Automation to lower your operational costs while improving the efficiency of these redundant tasks. That’s like killing two birds with a single stone!
Process Automation supports the use of other public systems for results. It also allows you to integrate other Azure services into Azure Automation. This move gives you the advantage of synchronizing multiple resources to create the perfect automation modules.
Configuration management is divided into two services. The first category is all about change tracking and inventory management. This is designed to help you track the changes that occur in -
- Virtual Machines
- IT infrastructure
This service allows you to keep track of crucial changes and alert you when it happens. Configuration management may be tedious to set up, but it can save you a lot of time when you do it right.
The second category of Configuration Management is the Azure Automation State Configuration. This is a cloud-based feature that allows you to manage your DSC ( Desired State Configurations ) resources inside Azure Automation. You can change or apply configurations to these virtual and physical machines with the power of Configuration Management.
Update Management is one of the best features of Azure Automation for large and medium-sized companies. Let us consider that your organization has 100’s of VM and physical machines. You need to keep them all updated and compliant so that the employees in your organization can work efficiently. Managing all on-premise and cloud systems becomes really hard without Update Management.
It allows you to schedule updates and other crucial installations from a single portal. You can decide when to go on with the update or when to pull it from deployment. With Update management, you can keep a check of your maintenance schedules and keep your employees informed of server downtimes and system unavailability errors.
Shared capabilities of Azure Automation
Once you start using it, you will understand that this is the next big thing in Azure Automation. Here are some of the shared capabilities of Azure Automation -
- Shared resources
- Role-based access control settings
- Flexible scheduling
- Source control integration for heterogeneous systems
Azure Automation offers you tons of shared resources. Let’s take a look at some of the top shared resources.
- Schedules - Allows you to trigger certain Automation at a pre-defined time.
- Credentials - Allows you to save highly sensitive information for later use by Runbooks and shared configurations.
- Connections - Allows you to define various connections between Runbooks and configurations at runtime.
- Variables - Allows you to create a storage place for all your content in runtime. Runbook and Configurations pick their data from variables when they are operating.
The other important shared capabilities are Role-based Access Control(RBAC) and Source control integration. RBAC allows you to grant varying levels of permissions to your team members. This control allows you to segregate your workers and provide access to only the documents they need.
RBAC offers 11 levels of action control. They are -
- Automation operator
- Automation Job Operator
- Automation Runbook Operator
- Log analytics Contributor
- Log Analytics Reader
- Monitoring Contributor
- Monitoring Reader
- User Access Administrator
The third important shared capability of Azure Automation is user Source Control Integration. This feature allows you to promote and control the codes that are created by your development team. With source control, you can switch your codes to your production automation account without any struggle.
Heterogeneous support across systems
Azure Automation was designed to work across multiple platforms and systems. This ability allows you to integrate workloads across various operating systems like Windows and Linux.
If you have an organization where you often come across a variety of VMs and operating systems, then this feature could be very advantageous.
How to create an Azure Automation account?
- The first step you need to take for creating your Automation account is to log in to the Azure portal.
- Click on the “New” button on Microsoft Azure’s home page.
- Click on the Monitoring + Management option and select the tab named “Automation” from that.
- Enter your account information and choose yes to automatically verify it to Microsoft Azure.
- Once you are done with the verification process, click on “Create”
- Go to Runbook in Automation from the overview page and create a new Runbook.
- Now select Azure Automation Tutorial Script. This will open the Runbook on the overview page.
- Click on “Start” to run the Runbook once it has been published.
- After it starts running, you can click on the “Output” to view the outputs of the current Runbook.
Now that you have created your Azure Automation account, here's a diagram of its working -
What are the benefits of Azure Automation account?
There are a ton of advantages offered by Azure Automation, here are the top 5 benefits of Azure Automation accounts -
Compared to all the other IT Automation platforms, Microsoft Azure Automation is low on cost and high on features. The pay-as-you-go model keeps your spending lean while allowing you to use resources when needed.
Also, the cost of using and deploying Azure Automation is very low, as costs are only incurred whilst your Automation is executing. On top of it, Microsoft provides you with the first 500 minutes of ‘execution time’ free; this significantly minimizes your initial outlay to achieve significant Automation benefits.
Integrates with other services easily
Azure Automation has more than 300 integration modules to integrate with services from Azure as well as other companies.
No charges for Infrastructure and maintenance
Since this a cloud-based platform, you don’t need to pay for IT infrastructure or the tedious maintenance costs.
Execute Runbooks on-premises
Azure Automation allows you to execute your Runbooks on-premises while keeping your data safe.
Choose from a range of programming options
Azure Automation supports different programming languages apart from the PowerShell modules. Some of the supported programming languages are graphical, Powershell, and python.
Azure Automation allows you to lower the time you spend on repetitious tasks forever. By creating Runbook and configurations, you can save a good amount of time for your organization. With support from multiple applications, you can write codes in Python or even scripts in PowerShell to create your Runbooks. Whatever your automation needs are, Microsft Azure can be used to automate them effectively and get your outputs efficiently.