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What is Cloud Orchestration?

Cloud orchestration, an advanced aspect of hybrid and multi-cloud management, plays an important role in enhancing operational efficiency, reducing costs, and enabling agile cloud operations. Modern businesses face a growing challenge: managing an increasingly complex cloud environment. With a plethora of cloud resources from different providers, hybrid environments, and a surge in containerized, micro-services-based applications, the landscape is more complex than ever.

At its core, cloud orchestration is about systematically managing and coordinating various cloud resources – computing, storage, and networking – to streamline and automate complex tasks. It is the process of integrating resources across private and public clouds into comprehensive workflows, ensuring that specific workloads are allocated to the most appropriate resources based on application demands.

Cloud Orchestration Use Cases and Examples

Cloud Orchestration, Workflows, GCP, Example, Diagram, Tutorial
Source: GCP

Cloud orchestration is particularly beneficial in scenarios involving managing infrastructure across multiple cloud provider, such as:

  • Automated server provisioning Deploying servers based on specific requirements without manual intervention.
  • Efficient management of networking devices: Orchestrating load balancers, routers, and switches for optimal performance.
  • Dynamic storage allocation: Assigning storage capacity as per the changing needs of applications.
  • Creation and management of virtual machines (VMs): Deploying and managing VMs based on workload requirements.
  • Application deployment: Streamlining the deployment process across various cloud environments.

Self-Service and Automated Resource Provisioning

This orchestration allows for a self-service model where end-users can independently request and manage cloud services, governed by predefined policies and procedures. This automation extends to every aspect of cloud management, including server provisioning, networking device management, storage allocation, virtual machine creation, and application deployment.

How Cloud Orchestration is Used in Different Environments

The utilization of cloud orchestration spans various cloud environments, each with its unique characteristics and requirements.

Single Cloud Orchestration

In a single cloud model, orchestration is relatively straightforward, with multiple applications running on the same cloud service provider. This setup, while simpler, still benefits significantly from orchestration tools that streamline operations within the cloud.

Multi-Cloud Orchestration

The multi-cloud model represents a more complex but powerful orchestration setup. Here, applications are distributed across different cloud platforms, yet interconnected to function as a cohesive system. This model boasts high redundancy and leverages IaaS providers’ capabilities to automate deployment processes, thereby reducing labor and resource requirements.

Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds

Cloud orchestration finds its application in public, private, and hybrid clouds, each offering unique advantages:

  • Public Clouds: Orchestration in public clouds focuses on leveraging shared resources efficiently while maintaining security and compliance.
  • Private Clouds: In private cloud environments, orchestration emphasizes customized control and privacy, tailoring services to specific organizational needs.
  • Hybrid Clouds: Hybrid clouds combine the best of both worlds, requiring orchestration tools that seamlessly integrate and manage resources across both public and private clouds.

Cloud Orchestration Models

In cloud computing, orchestration varies based on the type of service models they offer, namely Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Understanding these models is important when determining how cloud resources are managed and utilized in different environments.

IaaS: The Foundation of Cloud Orchestration

IaaS forms the backbone of cloud orchestration environments. Providers in this space furnish the essential components of network hardware, storage, servers, and virtualization services. This model is particularly favored for its versatility, allowing businesses to configure and manage their cloud infrastructure with greater flexibility. IaaS environments, whether dedicated or shared, also offer sophisticated orchestration tools that simplify IT operations across various clouds.

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Differences, Examples, Cloud Computing, Cloud Orchestration

PaaS: Streamlined Development Environment

PaaS takes cloud orchestration a step further by not only offering the underlying infrastructure but also including operating systems and middleware. This model is a haven for developers, providing a comprehensive environment for cloud development and deployment, without the hassles of managing underlying infrastructure or software licenses.

SaaS: Simplified Software Delivery

SaaS stands out for its straightforward approach, delivering applications directly through a web interface, often under a subscription model. Renowned for its ease of use, SaaS solutions like Dropbox, Gmail, or Netflix have become staples in the digital landscape. This model eliminates the need for installation and hosting, providing immediate access to software solutions.

Cloud Orchestration Strategies for Optimizing Your Cloud

Optimizing cloud environments necessitates strategic orchestration. Here are six actionable cloud orchestration strategies, complete with examples and best practices, to enhance the efficiency and performance of your cloud infrastructure.

Automated Resource Scaling

Implementing an automated scaling system for cloud resources based on real-time demand ensures operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This strategy dynamically matches resource allocation to the actual workload, preventing over or under-utilization.

AWS Autoscaling, Cloud Orchestration Strategy, Resource Allocation
  • Regularly monitor traffic patterns to set appropriate scaling triggers.
  • Implement predictive scaling to anticipate future demand based on historical data.

Example: AWS Auto Scaling and Azure Scale Sets dynamically adjust compute power or storage in response to workload changes, maintaining optimal resource balance.

Container Orchestration

Container orchestration tools like Kubernetes or Docker Swarm enhance the efficiency and scalability of containerized applications. They manage the deployment and operation of containers, ensuring high availability and load balancing.

  • Employ continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines for streamlined updates.
  • Regularly update container images and orchestration templates to maintain security and performance.

Example: Kubernetes automates the deployment, scaling, and operation of application containers across clusters, simplifying container management.

Multi-Cloud Management

Managing resources across multiple cloud platforms offers enhanced flexibility and redundancy. Multi-cloud management integrates disparate cloud environments, ensuring consistency and streamlined operations.

  • Implement consistent security policies across all cloud environments.
  • Use a centralized logging and monitoring system for visibility across all clouds.

Example: Multi-cloud management platforms like Morpheus or CloudHealth centralize control over different cloud services, simplifying cloud orchestration.

Workflow Automation

Automating complex workflows across cloud services streamlines operations and improves efficiency. This strategy involves coordinating various cloud processes into coherent workflows, reducing manual intervention and errors.

  • Define clear operational workflows and map out dependencies.
  • Regularly review and optimize automation scripts to align with evolving business needs.

Example: Apache Airflow or Terraform can automate multi-step processes like data pipelines or infrastructure provisioning, enhancing process efficiency.

Self-Service Portals

Developing self-service portals for cloud resources enables end-users to manage their cloud needs with minimal IT intervention. This strategy empowers users with direct access and control, improving response times and operational agility.

  • Implement role-based access control to ensure security.
  • Provide clear documentation and training to users for effective self-service.

Example: Self-service catalogs in VMware vRealize Automation or Cisco CloudCenter allow users to deploy pre-configured services independently.

Policy-Based Resource Allocation

Using policy-driven approaches for resource allocation ensures resources are used in line with predefined criteria such as cost, performance, or compliance. This strategy promotes efficient and compliant use of cloud resources.

Policy Management, Cloud Orchestration, AWS, Access Analyzer, IAM Policy Generation
  • Regularly review and update policies to reflect changes in business objectives or regulatory requirements.
  • Use policy-as-code frameworks to maintain consistency and ease of management.

Example: AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) or Azure Policy set policies governing resource usage and access, providing structured and compliant resource management.

Cloud Orchestration FAQs

Cloud Orchestration vs Cloud Automation: What’s the Difference?

Cloud Orchestration: Involves the coordination and arrangement of automated tasks resulting in a consolidated process or workflow. It’s about managing the interrelationships and interactions among workloads on public and private clouds.

Cloud Automation: Refers to the process of automating individual tasks with no need for human intervention. It’s more about making repetitive tasks happen without manual effort, but doesn’t necessarily coordinate or integrate these tasks into complex workflows.

Cloud Orchestration Tools in GCP

In the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Kubernetes Engine stands out for container orchestration, offering robust management of containerized applications. Another essential tool, Google Cloud Composer, facilitates workflow automation across various GCP services, enhancing the orchestration of complex, multi-step processes.

Cloud Orchestration Tools in AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides AWS CloudFormation for resource modeling and provisioning, automating the deployment process. AWS also offers Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) for efficient container orchestration, managing the scaling and deployment of containerized applications.

Cloud Orchestration Tools in Azure

Azure’s toolkit includes Azure Resource Manager, a powerful tool for deploying, managing, and monitoring Azure resources collectively. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) complements this by simplifying Kubernetes operations, making it easier to deploy and manage containerized applications.


Cloud orchestration is a crucial step in efficiently managing complex cloud environments, offering significant advantages in automation, resource optimization, and cost-effectiveness. Using strategies like automated resource scaling, container orchestration workflow automation, self-service portals, and policy-based resource allocation, businesses can enhance their cloud operations.

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Adarsh Rai

Adarsh Rai, author and growth specialist at Economize. He holds a FinOps Certified Practitioner License (FOCP), and has a passion for explaining complex topics to a rapt audience.

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