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In the previous article of this blog series, we covered the pros and cons of running on-premise automation technology. In this post, we’ll do the same, but this time for cloud automation.

According to Automation Anywhere’s Now and Next report, 68% of all their surveyed customers have chosen cloud automation. Those figures indicate that automation programs are aggressively choosing cloud-first automation platforms and migrating their automation estates from on-premise technology to the cloud. In this article, we explain why.

What is Cloud Automation?

Cloud automation is essentially software-as-a-service (SaaS) provided by third parties. More specifically, it’s automation technology and software that has a web-based interface and is accessed on a browser. There is no need to download heavy software and install it on your machine. It also removes the need to host the software on your internal servers or an internal cloud if you have one.

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Cloud Automation

Following the structure analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of on-premise automation, we’ll cover the same bases for cloud automation according to the same categories or principles:

  • Implementation
  • Cost
  • Security
  • Maintenance & Support
  • Visibility & Analytics

Implementation

Advantages

Implementation is arguably one of cloud automation’s strongest benefits. Because automation in the cloud is web-based, implementation is instant and requires limited IT intervention. User management is simplified as it relies on one or several administrators to distribute and manage pre-defined users and roles with simple access.

Disadvantages

The only disadvantage to implementing automation on external cloud technology is that user management and the technology is based on the vendor’s policies. This may cause a conflict, especially for organizations in highly-regulated industries that must adhere to their stringent protocols and the controls they must follow by the bodies that govern them.

Cost

Advantages

Cloud automation’s impact on RPA’s total cost of ownership is another major reason driving organizations to move from on-premise setups to the cloud. Cloud automation offers more competitive price points with both license and utilization price structures. Because the technology is web-based, it also removes the need to have full-time employees (FTEs) manage and monitor the infrastructure, so there are additional cost savings in that form. The ease of use and increased accessibility to automation also ensure quick returns.

Disadvantages

The only disadvantage to cloud automation from a cost perspective is that costs can increase in the long run as pricing models and automation estates increase.

Security

Advantages

Security is a component that’s the most contentious depending on your organization’s needs. Based on what you want, the advantages might be disadvantages and vice versa. On the face of it, cloud automation enables a secure setup out of the box that requires little to no intervention—the vendor handles all security upgrades, disaster recovery, data integrity, etc.

This is undoubtedly a major advantage for organizations that are happy to let the vendor manage those important elements. However, this may cause some concern for organizations with more rigid security controls. It could also be one of the reasons why Automation Anywhere’s recent study finds that smaller customers are adopting cloud automation at higher rates when compared to their larger cohorts.

Disadvantages

Cloud automation’s security options might be the biggest disadvantage for organizations in highly regulated industries because they lack the customization and control of on-premise automation technology. The vendor controls all aspects of security and backend databases, leaving customers dependent on those setups when they might require specific configurations according to internal and external controls.

Maintenance & Support

Advantages

Maintenance and support is another area that offers very compelling benefits when compared to on-premise automation technology. With cloud-native automation platforms, the vendor carries out maintenance and support. Less time is required to train employees, and the heavy reliance on in-house IT teams is wholly removed because there is no need to manage manual upgrades. New software versions with the latest and greatest features are automatically pushed to the cloud, so you’re always operating on the latest version without any dependence on expensive IT resources performing the upgrade for you, saving time and money in the short and long term.

Disadvantages

As with any SaaS provider, support can sometimes be tricky and vary from vendor to vendor. If there’s an outage or bug, you depend on the vendor’s development teams and SLAs (service level agreements) to rectify the issue. While uptime and service remain on the provider’s shoulders, it does remove the control that some organizations might prefer.

Visibility & Analytics

Advantages

Following the trend of all cloud automation benefits, analytics and reporting is another component that offers advantages because it’s out of the box. With a cloud setup, you get an array of established reports and dashboards at your fingertips with easily configurable scheduling. This removes the effort placed on internal teams to do the lifting for you but can again be a disadvantage based on the organization’s preference.

Disadvantages

The lack of customization and access to backend data are the only notable disadvantages of cloud automation. However, for those that want more control and specification, those disadvantages can be significant.

Summary

Cloud automation offers many advantages for organizations that want to reduce the total cost of ownership for RPA and remove expensive, time-consuming dependencies on their internal IT teams. Implementation is much easier and cost-effective, and security, maintenance, and reporting are all bundled into the offer that is so alluring about SaaS. However, for organizations that want more customization and control, whether they operate in a highly regulated industry or not, deciding between on-premise and cloud automation setups can be difficult.

Category Advantages Disadvantages
Implementation - Faster and cheaper because it’s web-based so no IT resources or internal effort is needed - User management and infrastructure are based on vendor’s policies
Cost - More cost-effective with different pricing models and with no hosting or IT resources needed for management, costs are reduced - Can be more expensive in the long term as automation estates grow and pricing models change
Security - Vendor manages all security upgrades, disaster recovery, data integrity, etc., so no resources are needed to manage and stay on top of those elements - Less control for organizations that have rigid security protocols and controls
Maintenance & Support - Vendor is responsible for maintenance & support, and you are always on the latest version - Subject to vendor’s policies and SLAs if issues ever arise
Visibility & Analytics - Access to established reports, analytics, and dashboards with easy scheduling - Less customizations and access to backend databases are available

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