Organizing Your DevOps with AWS CloudFormation

shutterstock_267865313As our information technology capabilities increase, there is an increased need for customized applications, networks, and infrastructures to support new technological demands and challenges. To meet these new challenges, many companies are either building in-house DevOps (Development and Operations) teams or are outsourcing DevOps projects to a managed IT services firm. The process of developing and testing applications and other IT components is often time consuming and requires a significant amount of system resources to build and test before a product is ready for a wide release.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has simplified how DevOps teams work with its CloudFormation service that allows AWS customers to create and manage multiple AWS components to build and test software applications and other web services.

How It Works

AWS customers build a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) template. JSON files are easy for humans to read and write and are designed for machines to read and then parse and generate. The JSON template you build serves as a blueprint which defines all of the AWS resources required for your specific application and infrastructure resource stack. After uploading the template to CloudFormation, your application stack is built according to the parameters set forth in your JSON file.

Here are some of the unique features of AWS CloudFormation:

Automatic Provisioning and Configuration of Resource Stack

Once you build your JSON file or select a template for your application from a range of pre-built custom templates, CloudFormation automatically provisions and configures your resource stack for you. This saves a lot of time and energy as the DevOps team historically would have to perform all of these configurations manually. So if the application you are working on requires storage blobs, a relational database, streaming media services, and enterprise level computing power – CloudFormation will pull together the AWS resources needed (such as EC2, RDS, and Elastic Beanstalk) and provision them to match the requirements built In your JSON file (or pre-built template).

Ease of Replication

DevOps often requires multiple replications. If you are looking to add to an existing application, DevOps teams have to replicate the current application and then build and test, before making adjustments to the running application to avoid downtime and messing up data. Replication is also used to create different scenarios to find the best configurations possible for an application in progress. With CloudFormation, replication is done with a few click of a mouse. If your DevOps team wants to replicate a specific form stack, all they have to do is make another instance using the same JSON template, and AWS builds the replication for you.

Version Control of Infrastructure Architecture

Tracking your history in DevOps is a necessity for multiple reasons. As you make changes, sometimes unexpected results can occur which can create problems in the application. Tracing back the history can help you to identify what is causing the issue. Tracking the development process is also required for security purposes to make sure that your applications and infrastructure don’t have any holes that can get exploited. Version Control in CloudFormation keeps track of all changes and allows customers to version control IT infrastructure in the same way they would with software coding.

About the Author

Nick Underwood

Nick Underwood has over 15 years of experience supporting IT infrastructures for businesses across a broad range of industries.


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