Amazon Does It Again – Introducing CloudFormation!

One of the most exciting things about cloud computing is how the major providers continue to rapidly expand both the breadth and the depth of their offerings. Amazon, with the release of AWS CloudFormation, has raised the bar yet again.

CloudFormation gives developers and administrators an easy way to provision and manage resources from the suite of AWS products. This includes compute power (EC2), block storage volumes (EBS), relational database (RDS), messaging (SQS), monitoring (CloudWatch), load balancing and more. The ability to define entire infrastructures in this way greatly reduces the administrative overhead required in application development and deployment.

CloudFormation introduces the concepts of templates and stacks. Templates are simply text files formatted using the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to describe the solution stack requirements. These files can be stored in S3 or on a local hard drive and can be easily re-used and shared. Pre-defined templates based on open source applications allow you to get started quickly. These templates can be modified and custom templates can be created from scratch.

In the template you just specify the resources you want and describe their dependencies in a declarative manner. CloudFormation removes the complexity of figuring out the provisioning order and making the dependencies all work together. Solutions can be further customized by passing runtime parameters to the template when the stack is built. There is no additional charge for the CloudFormation service; you just pay for whatever resources you provision using the template.

Like other AWS products CloudFormation is accessible through an API, command line tools, or a web based Management Console. This screencast walks through using the Management Console to deploy a solution stack based on an existing template. Notice how easy it is to leverage multiple AWS services to create an integrated solution!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghlEAaTue0w&hl=en&fs=1]

To learn more about the cloud offerings from Amazon and others you might like to attend Learning Tree’s introductory cloud computing course. Over three days you will be introduced to cloud computing concepts and you will gain understanding that will help you evaluate cloud computing now and in the future. The course is hands-on and assumes no prior experience with cloud computing.

Kevin

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