Automation in Microsoft Sentinel: Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR)

Security information and event management (SIEM) and security operations center (SOC) teams are typically inundated with security alerts and incidents on a regular basis, at volumes so large that available personnel are overwhelmed. This results all too often in situations where many alerts are ignored and many incidents aren't investigated, leaving the organization vulnerable to attacks that go unnoticed.

Microsoft Sentinel, in addition to being a SIEM system, is also a platform for security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR). One of its primary purposes is to automate any recurring and predictable enrichment, response, and remediation tasks that are the responsibility of your security operations center and personnel (SOC/SecOps), freeing up time and resources for more in-depth investigation of, and hunting for, advanced threats.

This article describes Microsoft Sentinel's SOAR capabilities, and shows how using automation rules and playbooks in response to security threats increases your SOC's effectiveness and saves you time and resources.


Microsoft Sentinel is now generally available within the Microsoft unified security operations platform in the Microsoft Defender portal. For more information, see Microsoft Sentinel in the Microsoft Defender portal.

Automation rules

Microsoft Sentinel uses automation rules to allow users to manage incident handling automation from a central location. Use automation rules to:

  • Assign more advanced automation to incidents and alerts, using playbooks
  • Automatically tag, assign, or close incidents without a playbook
  • Automate responses for multiple analytics rules at once
  • Create lists of tasks for your analysts to perform when triaging, investigating, and remediating incidents
  • Control the order of actions that are executed

We recommend that you apply automation rules when incidents are created or updated to further streamline the automation and simplify complex workflows for your incident orchestration processes.

For more information, see Automate threat response in Microsoft Sentinel with automation rules.


A playbook is a collection of response and remediation actions and logic that can be run from Microsoft Sentinel as a routine. A playbook can:

  • Help automate and orchestrate your threat response
  • Integrate with other systems, both internal and external
  • Be configured to run automatically in response to specific alerts or incidents, or run manually on-demand, such as in response to new alerts

In Microsoft Sentinel, playbooks are based on workflows built in Azure Logic Apps, a cloud service that helps you schedule, automate, and orchestrate tasks and workflows across systems throughout the enterprise. This means that playbooks can take advantage of all the power and customizability of Logic Apps' integration and orchestration capabilities and easy-to-use design tools, and the scalability, reliability, and service level of a Tier 1 Azure service.

For more information, see Automate threat response with playbooks in Microsoft Sentinel.

Automation with the unified security operations platform

After onboarding your Microsoft Sentinel workspace to the unified security operations platform, note the following differences in the way automation functions in your workspace:

Functionality Description
Automation rules with alert triggers In the unified security operations platform, automation rules with alert triggers act only on Microsoft Sentinel alerts.

For more information, see Alert create trigger.
Automation rules with incident triggers In both the Azure portal and the unified security operations platform, the Incident provider condition property is removed, as all incidents have Microsoft Defender XDR as the incident provider (the value in the ProviderName field).

At that point, any existing automation rules run on both Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender XDR incidents, including those where the Incident provider condition is set to only Microsoft Sentinel or Microsoft 365 Defender.

However, automation rules that specify a specific analytics rule name will run only on the incidents that were created by the specified analytics rule. This means that you can define the Analytic rule name condition property to an analytics rule that exists only in Microsoft Sentinel to limit your rule to run on incidents only in Microsoft Sentinel.

For more information, see Incident trigger conditions.
Changes to existing incident names In the unified SOC operations platform, the Defender portal uses a unique engine to correlate incidents and alerts. When onboarding your workspace to the unified SOC operations platform, existing incident names might be changed if the correlation is applied. To ensure that your automation rules always run correctly, we therefore recommend that you avoid using incident titles as condition criteria in your automation rules, and suggest instead to use the name of the analytics rule that created the incident, and tags if more specificity is required.
Updated by field
  • After onboarding your workspace, the Updated by field has a new set of supported values, which no longer include Microsoft 365 Defender. In existing automation rules, Microsoft 365 Defender is replaced by a value of Other after onboarding your workspace.

  • If multiple changes are made to the same incident in a 5-10 minute period, a single update is sent to Microsoft Sentinel, with only the most recent change.

    For more information, see Incident update trigger.
  • Automation rules that add incident tasks If an automation rule adds an incident task, the task is shown only in the Azure portal.
    Microsoft incident creation rules Microsoft incident creation rules aren't supported in the unified security operations platform.

    For more information, see Microsoft Defender XDR incidents and Microsoft incident creation rules.
    Running automation rules from the Defender portal It might take up to 10 minutes from the time that an alert is triggered and an incident is created or updated in the Defender portal to when an automation rule is run. This time lag is because the incident is created in the Defender portal and then forwarded to Microsoft Sentinel for the automation rule.
    Active playbooks tab After onboarding to the unified security operations platform, by default the Active playbooks tab shows a predefined filter with onboarded workspace's subscription. In the Azure portal, add data for other subscriptions using the subscription filter.

    For more information, see Create and customize Microsoft Sentinel playbooks from content templates.
    Running playbooks manually on demand The following procedures aren't currently supported in the unified security operations platform:
  • Run a playbook manually on an alert
  • Run a playbook manually on an entity
  • Running playbooks on incidents requires Microsoft Sentinel sync If you try to run a playbook on an incident from the unified security operations platform and see the message "Can't access data related to this action. Refresh the screen in a few minutes." message, this means that the incident isn't yet synchronized to Microsoft Sentinel.

    Refresh the incident page after the incident is synchronized to run the playbook successfully.
    Incidents: Adding alerts to incidents /
    Removing alerts from incidents
    Since adding alerts to, or removing alerts from incidents isn't supported after onboarding your workspace to the unified security operations platform, these actions are also not supported from within playbooks. For more information, see Capability differences between portals.