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aIncreasing the number of production and delivery cycles using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) activities has changed how software engineers design, test, and release apps. Automation tools that promote these activities are necessary to make building and configuring infrastructure more competitive and effective, reducing the costs and effort.

Infrastructure as code allows DevOps teams to use technology to control and customize infrastructures rather than manually configuring servers and operating systems. The modules can be stored in version control systems, and operator teams operate on them, providing greater accuracy, reducing errors, and reducing the time required. IaC is one of the essential DevOps practices used in continuous delivery.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the automation of infrastructure provisioning and management using the principles and practices of software development.  

The benefits that lead many businesses to migrate to IaC are Changeless infrastructure, Increased speed of delivery, Scalability, Cost savings, and Risk mitigation.

Why IaC on AWS?

We can use IaC to set up AWS infrastructure. IaC makes it easier to spin up AWS infrastructure. It automates the implementation of infrastructure, but it also improves performance. There are many resources that a customer can use to set up the AWS infrastructure. AWS Marketplace offers a host of IaC solutions

  1. Chef
  2. CloudShell Colony 
  3. Terraform 
  4. Puppet 
  5. Saltstack 

What is AWS CloudFormation? 

AWS CloudFormation is highly embedded and can only be used with AWS. The models for CloudFormation are written in YAML in addition to JSON. It offers a shared language for the description and provision in a cloud environment of all network resources. CloudFormation uses Rollback Triggers to restore infrastructure stacks to a previously deployed state if errors are observed to ensure that deployment and upgrading of infrastructure are achieved in a controlled manner. It also allows for the treatment of infrastructures as code, authoring them with any code editor and searching for version control.

What are the features of AWS CloudFormation?

Scalable

We can model and provision third-party application services alongside AWS resources using the AWS CloudFormation Registry. Monitoring, team productivity, incident management, and version control systems are examples of third party services. We can create our resource providers using the AWS CloudFormation CLI, an open-source platform that streamlines the development process, including local test and code generation capabilities.

Automate with Best Practices

With CloudFormation, we can apply DevOps and GitOps best practices using widely used methods such as starting from a git repository and deploying through a CI/CD pipeline. We can also simplify auditing changes and trigger automated deployments with pipeline integrations such as GitHub Actions and AWS CodePipeline.

Controlled Environment

In a secure and managed way, CloudFormation automates the provisioning and upgrading of our infrastructure. Manual measures or controls that can lead to mistakes are not available. In order to specify the CloudWatch alarms that CloudFormation should control during the stack development and update process, we can use Rollback Triggers. CloudFormation rolls back the entire stack process to a previously deployed state if any of the alarms are activated.

Preview Changes

AWS CloudFormation Change Sets allow everyone to preview how the running resources can be impacted by proposed changes to a stack, for example, to verify whether our changes will remove or substitute any essential resources. Only after we decide to execute the Change Set does CloudFormation allow the modifications to our stack.

How does the AWS CloudFormation work?

AWS CloudFormation allows underlying service calls to AWS to provision and customizes the services as you construct a stack. Note that AWS CloudFormation can do only the acts you have permission to do. For example, to create S3 buckets using AWS CloudFormation, you need permission to create buckets. Similar permissions would be required to delete an S3 bucket.

You can use Identity and Access Management (IAM) from AWS to control permissions. The calls that AWS CloudFormation makes are all declared by your template. For example, suppose you have a template that describes an S3 bucket with static website hosting configurations. When you use that template to create a stack, AWS CloudFormation calls the Amazon S3 bucket, creates API and specifies the static web hosting configurations. The following diagram summarises the AWS CloudFormation workflow for creating stacks.

We can create an AWS CloudFormation template (a JSON or YAML-formatted document) in a text editor or use AWS CloudFormation Designer. We can also choose to use a provided template. The template describes the resources we want and their configurations. For example, suppose we want to create an EC2 instance. Our template can declare an EC2 instance and describe its properties.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'

Description: A simple EC2 instance

Resources:

MyEC2Instance:

Type: AWS::EC2::Instance

Properties:

ImageId: ami-0ff8a91507f77f867

InstanceType: t1.micro

We can also create a template and save it with any file extension like .json, .yaml, or .txt. We can either save it locally or in S3 buckets.

We can build an AWS CloudFormation stack by specifying the location of the template file, such as a local machine path or Amazon S3 URL. If the template includes parameters, we can define the input values when we create the stack. Parameters allow you to transfer values to your template so that each time you build a stack, you can customize your resources. You can build stacks by using the AWS CloudFormation console, API, or AWS CLI.

What are the benefits of Infrastructure as Code on AWS CloudFormation?

Visibility

IaC provides the services deployed in your account with easy visibility and what their configurations are. We do not need to log into the web console to search for them. In any editor, we can quickly review them.

Stability

The architecture will be affected if there is a change in the settings unintentionally or deletion of the wrong app from the Web Console. Infrastructure as code, particularly when combined with source control management software, such as Git, helps us solve this.

Reusability

You only have to write code once with the infrastructure as code, and you can use it several times. This ensures that multiple resources can be set up using a single design.

Simple updates

You may use CloudFormation templates to make modifications to existing resources and deploy new ones. This capability facilitates tasks such as adding extra storage to a fleet of ec2 instances or altering access control rules.

Change management and auditing

Track changes based on which templates you use and how they evolve. Change tracking in CloudFormation allows you to see how your AWS services and resources have changed over time without going through logs to recreate the sequence of updates.

Speed

IaC delivers the cloud infrastructure rapidly, so a developer will be able to quickly create new functionality that will improve the organization's productivity.

Conclusion

AWS CloudFormation is a foundational service that enables AWS services to achieve their business outcomes. In this blog, We shared the rationale for selecting AWS CloudFormation to fasten its Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach. And as often as we need to, instead of managing resources individually, we can manage and provision stacks across multiple AWS accounts and AWS Regions.

Read Next

  1. Guide to Building DevSecOps Pipeline on AWS
  2. Azure Resource Manager (ARM) - Infrastructure as Code on Azure