The state of cloud automation: trends, challenges, and market outlook

APRIL 24, 2023

As per Acumen Research on Workflow Automation, the global workflow automation market size is estimated to grow a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) above 23% over the forecast timeframe and reach a market value of more than US$ 78 billion by 2030.

This exponential growth can be attributed to the rising adoption of cloud automation services, as more organizations identify the need to improve their operational efficiency. Additionally, this growth has been fueled by three major trends:

  1. The emergence of serverless architectures and microservices to build and deploy more modular and flexible automation solutions.

  2. The growing use of low-code and no-code development platforms to simplify the process of building and customizing automation workflows

  3. The greater emphasis on data analytics and visualization capabilities to provide insights into business processes and identify areas for further optimization and automation.

Business Process Automation (BPA) solutions can be deployed either on cloud, on-premises or on a hybrid architecture. The best way to go depends on several factors. For the scope of this article, let’s have a look at what automation on cloud is all about and what you should consider before implementing a cloud-based automation solution.

What are cloud-based solutions?

Cloud-based solutions refer to software, services, and storage that are hosted on remote servers and accessed over the internet. Cloud solutions allow users to access data and applications from any location with an internet connection, without needing to have the resources locally installed on their own devices. Cloud-based process automation solutions leverage cloud infrastructure and services to model, automate and monitor business processes. These services are made available to the organization as a SaaS solution to manage the complete automation lifecycle of their processes.

Important considerations for using cloud-based automation solutions

However much this sounds fancy and cool, architecting an end-to-end automation service on cloud (if I may call it "automation as a service”) requires careful planning. Three most feasibility assessments that need to be addressed to ensure a successful transition include:

  1. Integration complexity: Integration is crucial when moving business process automation to the cloud. It is essential to ensure that cloud-based automation solutions can integrate seamlessly with existing on-premises systems. If integration is complex, it may cause delays and additional costs, and in some cases, even make the transition to the cloud unfeasible.

  2. Data security and privacy: When moving business process automation to the cloud, data security and privacy must be a top priority. Businesses must ensure that their data is protected from unauthorized access, cyber-attacks, and data breaches. This includes complying with regulatory requirements and implementing appropriate security measures such as encryption and access controls.

  3. Regulations: In some geographies, it is unfeasible for some industries like banking, defense and government to adopt cloud-based solutions because of existing government rules and regulations. It is important to do an assessment to identify regulatory challenges.

Blog - Cloud automation

Two other important factors to note while making a transition to process automation on cloud:

  1. A well maintained and updated repository of process maps and models which do not only show the happy path, but the current ground reality of the processes. This will give you a clear picture of the complexity of the process.

  2. Understanding of the outsourced parts of the process: in many cases, a part of the business process is outsourced to a third party for various purposes, and it is important to note the interdependencies.

Cloud-based solutions vs. on-premises

Traditionally, a lot of process automation projects have been architected on premises and in the next section, let’s have a look at both: process automation on cloud and on-premises. This comparison (and this article) in no way pushes cloud as the “only” solution or way ahead. This is a fact-based comparison on both approaches.

Automation on cloud


  • Scalability: Easy to manage load as it is easy to scale up or scale down with time. For example, if your business experiences a surge of customer orders during a specific week of a quarter, it makes sense to have the ability to quickly scale up and down as required.

  • Compliance: If your business is not restricted by prohibitive and regulatory requirements to restrict SaaS solutions.

Maintenance and upgrades:

  • Upgrades are usually done by the cloud service provider and do not require significant involvement from the customer. This means that organizations can benefit from the latest features and functionality without having to invest significant resources in upgrading their systems.

On-premises automation


  • Control: With an on-premises solution, organizations have more control over their infrastructure, data, and software. They can customize and configure the system to meet their specific needs, and they have direct control over security and access to data.

  • Security: In some cases, on-premises solutions can be more secure than cloud-based solutions as the organization has direct control over security measures such as firewalls and access controls. This is important especially when it comes to highly sensitive data.

  • Compliance: Certain industries or organizations may have strict regulatory requirements that mandate data to be stored on premises, where it is closely monitored, and the access is controlled.

Maintenance and upgrades:

  • Requires a series of activities to be conducted by enterprise including frequent hardware and software upgrades, disaster recovery backup and security management. The drawback here is that all the activities are to be managed in-house.

The benefits of cloud-based process automation are multiple, with scalability, flexibility, and easy maintenance being just a few of the advantages. However, the decision to move to the cloud should be made after careful consideration of the feasibility assessments, data security and privacy concerns, and regulatory challenges. Cloud-based automation solutions might offer a faster start to creating and implementing a workflow, but it does not necessarily mean that it is the only way. We’ve been able to show that the current, lightweight Flowable engines for instance can scale horizontally using a simple set of existing, well-understood technologies. It scales and is easy to manage, even on prem.

Tushar Srivastava

BPM enthusiast and former Gartner Analyst with a decade of experience in business process and requirement gathering, process mapping and management.

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