Automation vs Orchestration: Detailed Comparison

Introduction
What is Automation
Benefits of Automation 
Uses cases for Automation
What is Orchestration?  
Benefits of Orchestration
Use cases for Orchestration
Comparison Table: Automation vs Orchestration
Conclusion

Introduction to Automation & Orchestration

Data breaches are on rise at an alarming pace. Organizations get too many alerts, too many technology devices, components but there is always paucity of people to manage them. Security teams are overwhelmed with the number of alerts coming in and so many controls to implement. The traditional approach to manage controls is no longer safe due to which organizations are adopting automation and orchestration.

Automation has taken up organizations in a big way no matter what the industry is; automation is the way forward for saving costs, efficiency enablement, removal of manual errors and repetitive tasks which consume a lot of resources. Successful digital transformation requires automation along with orchestration to go hand in hand.

Today, we look more in detail about two important terminologies: Automation and Orchestration, understand the difference and similarities between them, purpose for which they are deployed and use cases etc.

What is Automation?

The word automation usage came first into existence after the 1920s but it got popular during the 1990s. Automation is all about doing an activity or task without any human intervention. Automation could apply to both desktop only and cloud only tasks. A single automated task can perform anything such as launching a web service, stopping a service, web app integration, sending auto mailer, capturing auto mail response and so on.

Automation task is part of an orchestration task. The ‘automation’ is used to add support for completion of different types of repetitive tasks such as data entry, processing of invoices etc. we do make use of Robotic process automation or ‘RPAs’.

Benefits of Automation 

  • There is no requirement of coding skills or programming knowledge 
  • Automation provides error free task execution and eliminates human errors 
  • It saves time as time to execute or complete a task is reduced
  • Automation facilitates inbuilt governance and compliance controls
  • Lower operating costs

Uses cases for Automation

  • Data extraction and submissions
  • Data comparison and validations
  • Web based user actions
  • Rule based decisions 

What is Orchestration?     

Orchestration is nothing but in simpler definition it is automating many tasks together. It is an entire IT driven process not just simple automation of a single task. So, it is a process of automating a series of tasks. Orchestration of a process requires underlying steps involved, tracking each step on a variety of environments such as applications, databases, mobile devices and so on.

Multiple tasks that are automated in order to execute automatically a larger workflow or processes. Orchestration lets streamline and optimize repeatable processes and eliminate redundancies.

Benefits of Orchestration

  • Better utilization of capital as lot of costs are saved.
  • Productivity enhancement as all tasks are automated and orchestrated between themselves.
  • Decreases the communication gap between teams for lack of a task completion as all tasks are automated. within orchestration resulting in reduction in human error.
  • Product and services are reliable and consistent across batches to standardize the activities. 
  • Processes and systems can be monitored centrally for improved ITSM, disaster recovery, and optimization of processes.
  • Central management of permissions and audit trails can be applied at enterprise level.
  • New tools and technology integration into existing environments so organizations can quickly adapt new trends.

Use cases for Orchestration

  • Speed up software development
  • Daily transactions batch processing
  • Multiple servers and applications management
  • Data Analytics
  • Employee onboarding process 

Comparison Table: Automation vs Orchestration

Below table summarizes the differences between the two terms:

FunctionAutomation Orchestration 
DefinitionTasks that can be performed without manual interventionArrangement of tasks grouped together which can be automated
Human interventionManual tasks completion required to deliver new environmentRequires less human intervention
Nature of toolsTools and activities occur in particular order using certain tools or groupsOrchestration tools enumerate the resources such as IAM roles, instance types, etc 
Policy Implement policy decisions outside OS level access control listsHandles all permissions and security of automation tasks 
Resources usedUse of minimal resources outside specified taskResources are effectively utilized
Alerting and monitoring Data can be sent to 3rd party reporting servicesMonitoring and alerting for its workflows 
Software’sSelenium , Robotium, Cypress etc Ansible, Control-M, Jenkins, Kubernetes etc
Comparison By: cloudwithease.com

Download the Comparison Table: Automation vs Orchestration

Conclusion

Automation became important as IT had to execute too numerous tasks manually. Some years later a similar issue came up where too many processes, applications, systems and environments for IT are to be managed manually. Orchestration tools took away the complexity of automated processes and underlying code turned into building blocks. This facilitated developers to rapidly assemble new and cross platform processes without too much dependency on custom scripts.

Automation and orchestration can’t be seen in isolation because they are not substitutes for each other but it is a matter of organization’s decision to take automation to the next level by orchestrating existing and new processes.

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