AWS User Group Belgium kick-off: CloudFormation

Published on September 13, 2013 by Frederik Denkens

At Skyscrapers we build environments for our customers on Amazon Web Services. Although we already have some experience, there is still much to learn. Webinars, blog-posts and tutorials can teach you a lot, but nothing beats sharing of real-life experience between humans. Meet the the AWS User Group Belgium.

This week on Tuesday at ICAB in Brussels, Nils (@ndemoor, CTO at WooRank) kicked off the very first session. After getting some practical details out of the way, he jumped right into an excellent presentation (slides here) and demo on AWS CloudFormation.

If you don’t know CloudFormation yet: it is a way to describe your whole setup, with all of its AWS components , in a single manifest or file. Or as Nils called it: “One file to rule them all”.

The most interesting benefits:

  • Repeatable and predictable deployments

  • Versioning of your platform design

  • Automated deployments, updates and roll-backs

  • Infrastructure as code = instant documentation

After the theory, a live demo was given on building such a CloudFormation template. After some iterations, we had a simple setup consisting of a single EC2 instance, an S3 bucket with a security policy and a fully deployed and working Node.js application. All of it completely deployed from a single CloudFormation template. Having Puppet (what we use) or Chef take over for further deployment would be an easy next step.

Unfortunately time was running out, so at the end we quickly went through some of the challenges with CloudFormation (headache inducing syntax, no sandboxing, some inconsistent behaviour during evolutions, etc) and potential next steps.

It was a great first session and I am looking forward to the next one. It is planned for Wednesday November 6 in Antwerp. So  sign-up here  and join the community of Amazonians in Belgium!

(No time to join? We’d be happy to brief you in person to see how you can put this to work for your own deployment, so get in touch.)


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