AWS cloudformation

In the rapidly moving world, it is not feasible for organisations to invest time in deploying several AWS services or applications. Since it is manual, it is not just time consuming and tedious, but there are more chances of committing errors. To resolve these issues, organisations rely on AWS CloudFormation.

What is AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation is a platform that enables a smooth set-up for AWS resources. If you use CloudFormation you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of time managing those resources, and you can focus completely on making the most of them.

The service can be defined as an Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) tool as it automates the deployment of several Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) resources on the CloudFormation. Also, the platform enables the automation of workload configuration which runs on in-demand AWS Services, such as S3 Storage Service, EC2 Compute Service, and IAM Service.  

It must be noted that the approach by the AWS CloudFormation is a completely automated one. There are organisations that take up the manual approach using the AWS command-line interface or Web console. But, that approach is taken by companies in their initial phase, once they are sufficient and are looking forward to scaling themselves concerning team sizes and deadlines, they opt for AWS CloudFormation to make the overall deployment process more effective, efficient, and consistent.

AWS CloudFormation uses template files for automating AWS resource setup. So, the service can be used to automate the configuration and deployment of any service running on Amazon Web Services.

So, next, let’s have a look at the way you can create AWS CloudFormation Templates.

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How to create a CloudFormation Template?

A template in AWS CloudFormation is something that elaborates or describes all the resources or services along with their properties. This template enables the deployment of all the required resources. Not just that, these templates can be used over and over whenever a similar infrastructure is required. 

So, when it comes to creating a CloudFormation Template, there are two ways to do that:

Use a pre-existing template 

Here, using a pre-existing template refers to an approach where a pre-existing template is used as a foundation. So, this is a faster and more convenient way, especially for beginners. Mostly, working on a pre-existing template is preferred, unless there is a new type of deployment or the deployment is a complex one. 

Once a template is chosen from the AWS template collection, it can be downloaded to the computer system and edited accordingly. Also, AWS CloudFormation Designer can be used to create and modify these templates. There are several functionalities provided in the Designer which makes the overall work simple. 

Create a new template 

Now, if you choose to make a new template, it can be done using a text editor. All you need to do is make some new deployment rules using the visualisation features of AWS CloudFormation Designer as it not only configures the already existing but also the new ones. 

Now, when you know about the two ways of making an AWS CloudFront template, the next important topic is to understand the process of deployment of these templates.

How to deploy a CloudFormation Template?

The template that can be made in two ways as seen above, can be deployed in multiple ways. The process of deployment entirely depends on the way these templates are created. So, the different deployment approaches according to the type of template are:


AWS Console 

AWS Console is a deployment process which is taken if the template file is a text file and is stored on the local computer. When this template is stored locally, the deployment becomes extremely simple by logging into the AWS CloudFormation console.

All you have to do is go to https://console.aws.amazon.com/cloudformation/home and click on Create New Stack. As soon as you do that, leave it on the console to walk you through the steps. It will help you name the template and then upload the computer’s template file. Finally, when this is all done, clicking on the Create button will deploy the template. 

From CloudFormation Designer

If the template is being created in CloudFormation Designer, its deployment is just a cakewalk. Once the template file is created it can be deployed directly from CloudFormation Designer by clicking on the Create Stack button and following the simple steps that come forth. 

AWS CLI 

If you are using the AWS CLI or Cloud Line Interface to deploy your templates, you may utilise the AWS CloudFormation deploy command. The command-line arguments help you figure out the template’s storage location and other things that you might want to configure. You can find all the details related to CLI deployments in the AWS documentation.

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Benefits of cloud formation

Deployment speed 

You already know the significant difference that AWS CloudFormation brings, especially when it comes to the speed of deployment. Once the CloudFormation templates are used to manage the configuration and deployment of AWS resources, multiple instances can be deployed. This is what leads to much faster deployments as compared to manual deployments.  

Upscaling

Upscaling or Scaling up comes in handy with AWS CloudFormation. The templates ensure that the environment can be scaled up whenever it's needed. Also, using these templates more storage space or virtual machine instances can be added whenever you experience the need. 

Integrating services

Once you have a CloudFormation template, then that template can be used to manage the deployment of multiple resources, which means CloudFormation enables the integration of different Amazon Web Services cloud services. 

Continuity or Consistency

The CloudFormation templates can be used to apply the same configuration as used to deploy previous AWS resources, again and again. This is what ensures that all the services and applications are consistent. If not for CloudFormation, you would have to set up every service manually which is not just too time-consuming but an extremely challenging task when it comes to the consistency of those resources.

Ensure security

AWS CloudFormation enhances the security of the overall AWS environment by reducing the human errors that would have occurred because of all the manual deployments. 

Easy to update

CloudFormation not only enables you to deploy new resources but also lets you provide easy updates to the existing resources.

Controlling and managing change

CloudFormation enables you to control and manage the changes over time, which means you can monitor changes in the AWS resources and services over time. It may appear to be a tedious task, but it is not, after all you no longer have to search manually through the logs.

Updating the CloudFormation Stack

A CloudFormation Stack can be defined as a collection of resources as a single unit. In a stack, resources can be created, modified (updated), or deleted. This stack contains all the resources that are needed to run a web application.

Now, when it comes to updating the CloudFormation stack, you need to make amends to the stack’s template. There is no need to delete the already existing stack or create a new one, all you need to do is update the already existing one. 

Now, when it comes to updating the existing stack, you must submit a modified version of the old stack template, with distinguishable input values. Once you do submit the needful, AWS CloudFormation compares the two versions of the templates, i.e. the modified new version and the already existing old version and as a result generates a change set. 

Once the change set comes forth, it contains a list of proposed changes and once those changes are reviewed, the next step is to update the stack. So, now you can either update your stack or create a new change set. 

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Conclusion

By now, you would be well versed with everything you need to begin with AWS CloudFormation. You began with learning about the basics of CloudFormation and went on to understand its templates. While learning about AWS CloudFormation Templates, you understood the way to create AWS CloudFormation Templates, followed by the process of deployment of those templates. 

Once you know what AWS CloudFormation is all about and how it does what it does, you have learned about several benefits that CloudFormation brings with it. Lastly, you discovered the process of Updating the CloudFormation Stack.

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Ishan Gaba
Ishan Gaba
Research Analyst
Ishan is an IT graduate who has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. He is a tech-savvy and literary fanatic since his college days. Proficient in Data Science, Cloud Computing, and DevOps he is looking forward to spreading his words to the maximum audience to make them feel the adrenaline he feels when he pens down about the technological advancements. Apart from being tech-savvy and writing technical blogs, he is an entertainment writer, a blogger, and a traveler.