Amazon aims to make it easier to build complex clouds

Amazon Web Services' CloudFormation automates the provisioning of cloud resources and applications

With the launch of CloudFormation, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is hoping to make it easier for enterprises to put together stacks of applications and resources for its cloud computing service, the company said on Friday.

As companies get more used to running applications in the cloud, they are putting together more complex systems. But as overall system complexity grows, launching the right combination of resources, assigning them to roles, and dealing with error conditions become more and more challenging, AWS wrote in a blog post.

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However, CloudFormation aims to remove that complexity and in the process allow users to take better advantage of the programmability and scalability of the cloud, AWS said.

By creating a template to describe the stack of applications and resources needed, users don't have to do the configuration work manually. CloudFormation takes care of provisioning, while taking into account any dependencies between resources, according to AWS.

The template is a text file using JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) to specify what the user wants to run. CloudFormation will figure out the rest, AWS said.

The stacks of applications and resources that CloudFormation can help provision include server instances, database instances and load balancers. Users can also configure alarms and set triggers that automatically add more capacity.

AWS has put together a number of sample templates, including ones for content management systems Drupal and Joomla, and the Wordpress blogging platform. Once a template has been created it can be used repeatedly to create identical copies of the same stack.

AWS has also added support for CloudFormation to the AWS Management Console.

Using CloudFormation is free of charge; users pay for the AWS resources needed to run the stack they have put together. Users don't have to sign up for all the resources individually: once they have signed up for CloudFormation, that is handled automatically.

The launch of CloudFormation is the second time this year AWS has introduced a product to make its cloud easier to use. In January, the company presented Elastic Beanstalk. Beanstalk provides an environment to develop and run applications in the cloud, while CloudFormation adds a deployment mechanism for multiple resources. The two products can be used together, according to an AWS FAQ.

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