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Selecting a Cloud Automation Solution: Part 3 – Flexibility, But at What Cost?

By Rich Bourdeau

If you can’t live with a prescribed cloud automation process that has limited flexibility, one Cloud Automation - Some Assembley Requiredoption is to leverage a run book automation tool which lets you customize your cloud solution to your specific needs.  Many cloud automation solutions available in the market today are little more than a basic service catalog connected to a general purpose automation toolkit.

This is similar to the build it yourself model (discussed in our Build vs Buy post), but at least you are starting with some building blocks and a general purpose automation engine.  The advantage is you get exactly what you want but at what risk and cost?  Before you start down this path, here are some things you should consider.


The Hidden Costs of Automation Toolkits

There are multiple hidden costs associated with deploying a custom cloud automation solution.  Here are some factors that should be considered when selecting a cloud automation solution:

1. Service costs typically far outweigh software costsCloud Automation Hidden Costs
Some vendors that have cloud automation solutions that are based on a run-book automation tool kit provide a very basic cloud management framework and then a set of process automation tools that allow a custom solution to be developed.  These solutions tend to require lengthy and expensive custom services projects where services typically cost three times as much as the software.


2.  Customized solutions are not easily adapted to other businessIs adapting your Cloud like fitting a Square Peg Round Hole
In addition to the higher upfront costs, cloud automation solutions built with an automation toolkit tend to be built specific for the needs of a single business.  When companies try to expand the use of highly customized solutions, they either have further customization costs or suffer from limited adoption across the enterprise.



3.  Customized solutions make upgrades to newer releases difficult How difficult is it to upgrade your cloud
Many cloud automation customizations strand the implementation at a specific release making upgrades to newer versions difficult and costly.  This may be fine, as long as you are not planning on new features in your vendor’s roadmap. 


4.  Maintenance of this custom solution is FOREVER!Cloud Automation Can Be Forever
Getting custom cloud services running the first time is one thing.  However, plan on keeping that skill in-house as you will likely need to continue to make changes or maintain your custom cloud solution.  You will likely need someone with very specific skills in whatever tool you choose as well as your custom application.  How easy will it be able to find new people with the appropriate skills if you need to replace your resident expert?  



Hopefully you now have a better understanding of some of the hidden cost of deploying and maintaining custom cloud automation solutions.  In our next blog post we will explore how to identify the perfect mix of time to value and flexibility that will simplify and accelerate your cloud automation deployment.

Learn more about VMware’s Cloud Automation solution

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