AWS CloudFormation – Infrastructure-As-Code

AWS CloudFormation is a one-click network creation tool available  as a free offering under the Amazon Web Services suite.  It gives developers and system administrators an easy way to organize, deploy and manage AWS infrastructure-as-code and its associated resource stacks such Amazon Elastic Storage, DynamoDB, and Lambda serverless computing.  This means that engineers and administrators can spend more time on their actual product or service and less time on the grunt work of managing IT infrastructure.

The two key features of Amazon CloudFormation is its use of templates and its drag-and-drop interface tool known as CloudFormation Designer.  By using one of the sample templates provided verbatim, or customizing it to fit your needs, you do not have to start an entire template design from scratch.  With just a few clicks you can select which AWS resources you need, their configuration values, and their types of interconnections and let AWS CloudFormation do the rest.  Having infrastructure-as-code in the form of templates also allows developers to quickly and easily replicate that template stack, or use it as a foundation for a new stack.

Through the use of the Amazon CloudFormation Designer drag-and-drop interface, developers can now visualize their templates as diagrams and conveniently edit them, much the same as a Visio network diagram.  In addition, there is a text editor running to allow for manual editing and customization of the underlying JSON or YAML code.  When changes are made to the resources or their interconnections in the diagram via drag-and-drop, the underlying JSON or YAML code is automatically updated.

The obvious benefits to Amazon CloudFormation is that it frees up time that can be better spent on more productive aspects of business and less time on deploying and managing technology infrastructure, thus making a business more profitable.  The other important benefit for society overall is that the availability of this type of technology lowers the barrier of entry for those looking for a career in technology, specifically in cloud engineering.  With AWS CloudFormation’s de-emphasis on the need for strong coding skills to deploy and manage cloud infrastructure, people that otherwise would have lacked the necessary skills and abilities to be cloud engineers and administrators now have the opportunity to do those jobs, which are in high demand and pay extremely well.

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