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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Software stack deployment automation the Amazon CloudFormation way!

Deploying a complete software stack is breeze with Amazon's CloudFormation. It provides a repeatable and predictable mechanism to launch a stack comprising of EC2 instances, load balancers, databases and other Amazon resources.

There are many sample CloudFormation (CF) recipes to get you started, LAMP recipe being the simplest one. Once the hardware is setup, you can use CloudFormation to bootstrap applications. This is where is gets a little tricky.

Multiple options are available including CloudInit. You can pass executable actions to instances at launch time through EC2 user-data attribute. Other options are Chef and Puppet.

Some scenarios where CloudFormation can be of great help:
  1. You own a simple web application running on Tomcat and fronted by a load balancer. New engineers joining your team can simply run the CF template to create their own developer environment on the cloud.
  2. You own an application that builds on multi-instance architectures. Multi-instance architectures separate software instances (or hardware systems) operate on behalf of different client organizations. Launching a new stack for a new client becomes just too simple!
  3. Continuous delivery is simplified via use of CF. Launch a new stack for QA for Feature 1. However, Feature 2 will have to wait deployment till QA has certified Feature 1. Launch a new stack for Feature 2 and build parallel continuous delivery pipelines.
Do remember to delete the stack once it is not needed!

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