What is Workflow Automation? Why Should You Use It?

Workflow automation is covered in Section 3.2 of CompTIA’s Cloud+ certification exam. You might be wondering what this is and why it is important. You can just manually spin up resources and you’ll be fine. Why are these complicated processes necessary to spin up these resources. We’ll be discussing the topics that can help answer these questions in this post.
What is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation is a process that defines blueprints for a specific outcome and then steps are taken to achieve it. These are often referred to as “runbooks”. This is a recipe for making pizza. Except in workflow automation, we use terms such as runbooks instead of recipes. This will list the ingredients, such as cheese, sauces, toppings, and dough. You may be required to make the dough from scratch, or you can purchase pre-made pizza crusts.
This is a great example showing the flexibility of workflow automation. While it can be used to build something from scratch, it can also use pre-made building blocks. You won’t likely be building a new Ubuntu virtual machine if you don’t have the necessary tools. You would normally refer to an Ubuntu image that was made available by your cloud provider.
There are many reasons to use workflow automation. Below, we’ll focus on the three most important reasons to use workflow automation and then expand a little. There are many other reasons, but these three are the most important.
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Consistency is a key benefit of automation. It is easy to forget or skip steps when setting up environments manually. These mistakes can lead to long-term problems that are difficult to fix. Workflow automation creates a consistent environment that is reproducible and maintains consistency with each instance of that environment. These automations can be used to ensure that changes are consistent across environments when making changes.
Going back to our pizza recipe example. Your pizza may not turn up consistent if you don’t have a specific recipe. You can make them different or use different ingredients. Sometimes it tastes great, and sometimes it is less appealing. However, consistency is important in infrastructure and ensures stability.
AWS CloudFormation, for example, uses declarative configuration management. This allows you to define the end state and it will figure out how you get there regardless of what state you were in. This ensures consistent results, regardless of whether you are building new infrastructure or updating existing infrastructure.
2. Transparency
Runbooks and workflow automation can be stored in a repository or system that multiple people can access. This is important because everyone can agree on what the deployment should look. This pizza reference is a bit more complicated than the original, but some parts still hold true.
You will need to know the ingredients if you are gluten-, lactose-intolerant. You may also want to know how many calories the meal will contain if you’re trying to restrict your diet but still want to indulge. Transparency is key to ensuring consistency in the infrastructure industry.
Automation tools often use JSON or YAML formats, which are easy to understand. This allows for greater transparency. This information would be stored in a version control system, so that everyone can access it at any time. JSON is easy to read, but it requires a viewer to format it. YAML, on the other hand is much simpler to read in its native format.
3. Duplication is easy
Workflow automation is a great way to make it easier to reproduce an environment or set changes quickly. The environment can be spun up