How to use CloudFormation to deploy infrastructure on AWS

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AWS CloudFormation is a service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that enables users to provision and manage AWS resources through templates. These templates are written in JSON or YAML, and they define the resources, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets, and Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), that need to be created, as well as the configurations and settings for those resources.

CloudFormation allows users to automate the process of creating and configuring AWS resources, which can save time and reduce the risk of errors. It also allows users to manage their resources as a single unit, known as a stack, which makes it easy to manage, update, and delete resources together.

CloudFormation can be used for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Setting up and configuring an entire environment for an application or service
  • Deploying and updating applications and services
  • Managing and scaling resources based on changing needs
  • Creating and managing test and production environments

It can be used through the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), and SDKs, and it can also be integrated with other AWS services, such as AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS CodeDeploy, and third-party tools like Jenkins, Ansible, and more.

Assuming you need to deploy an EC2 instance with 4 GiB of RAM, 6 vCPUs, 500 GB SSD storage, and install the latest Ubuntu as the machine image, here is an example[le of the YAML file you would need to achieve this kind of task

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
    Type: 'AWS::EC2::Instance'
      InstanceType: 't3.medium'
      ImageId: ami-0e55a483058f71c68 # latest Ubuntu
        - DeviceName: /dev/xvda
            VolumeSize: 500
            VolumeType: gp2
      KeyName: MyKeyPair
        - !Ref MySecurityGroup
    Type: 'AWS::EC2::SecurityGroup'
      GroupDescription: Allow SSH and HTTP access
        - IpProtocol: tcp
          FromPort: 22
          ToPort: 22
        - IpProtocol: tcp
          FromPort: 80
          ToPort: 80
    Type: 'AWS::EC2::KeyPair'
      KeyName: MyKeyPair
      PublicKey: ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAABAQD3F6tyPEFEzV0LX3X8BsXdMsQz1x2cEikKDEY0aIj41qgxMCP/iteneqXSIFZBp5vizPvaoIR3Um9xK7PGoW8giupGn+EPuxIA4cDM4vzOqOkiMPhz5XK0whEjkVzTo4+S0puvDZuwIsdiW9mxhJc7tgBNL0cYlWSYVkz4G/fslNfRPW5mYAM49f4fhtxPb5ok4Q2Lg9dPKVHO/Bgeu5woMc7RY0p1ej6D4CKFE6lymSDJpW0YHX/wqE9+cfEauh7xZcG0q9t2ta6F6fmX0agvpFyZo8aFbXeUBr7osSCJNgvavWbM/06niWrOvYX2xwWdhXmXSrbX8ZbabVohBK41 phodgson@mylaptop

The above template creates an EC2 instance of type t3.medium (4 GiB RAM, 6 vCPUs), using the latest Ubuntu machine image (ami-0e55a483058f71c68), and an Elastic Block Store (EBS) volume of size 500 GB with a GP2 type, which is used as the root volume for the instance. It also creates a Keypair named MyKeyPair and a security group named MySecurityGroup, which allows incoming traffic on ports 22 and 80 from any IP address.

So, you can run the above CloudFormation template using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or SDKs.

Can I use CloudFormation to deploy largescale infrastructure on AWS?

Yes, AWS CloudFormation can be used to deploy large-scale infrastructure on AWS. CloudFormation is designed to help users automate the process of creating and configuring AWS resources, which can save time and reduce the risk of errors. It also allows users to manage their resources as a single unit, known as a stack, which makes it easy to manage, update, and delete resources together.

One of the key benefits of using CloudFormation is that it supports the creation of complex architectures, including multi-tier applications and large-scale infrastructure. This means that you can use CloudFormation to deploy resources such as EC2 instances, RDS databases, S3 buckets, and more, and then configure them to work together to form a complete infrastructure.

CloudFormation also supports the use of nested stacks, which allows you to create stacks that depend on other stacks. This can be useful when deploying large-scale infrastructure, as it allows you to break down the deployment into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Additionally, CloudFormation also supports Automation and Management of resource with the help of AWS CloudFormation StackSets, that allows you to create, update, and delete stacks across multiple accounts and regions in AWS Organizations.

Is CloudFormation beginner-friendly, and which skills do you need?

It is considered beginner-friendly because it allows users to create and manage resources in AWS using templates written in JSON or YAML. In order to effectively use CloudFormation, a basic understanding of AWS services and some experience with JSON or YAML is helpful. Additionally, understanding of the principles of infrastructure as code and version control is beneficial.

Do you pay to use CloudFormation on AWS?

CloudFormation is a service offered by AWS and is included in the AWS Free Tier. This means that new AWS customers can create and manage their infrastructure using CloudFormation at no additional cost for the first 12 months.

However, CloudFormation uses other AWS services and resources, and you will be charged for those services based on their pricing. For example, if you use CloudFormation to create an EC2 instance, you will be charged for the use of that EC2 instance according to the EC2 pricing model.

Also, CloudFormation charges for the actions you perform on your templates, such as creating, updating or deleting stacks, and also for the storage of your templates. The cost for these actions is minimal, but you should keep an eye on them if you are running a lot of actions or storing a lot of templates.

Overall, CloudFormation itself is free to use, but keep in mind that you will be charged for the underlying resources that CloudFormation creates and manages on your behalf.

CloudFormation Equivalent from other Platforms

The equivalent service to AWS CloudFormation on other cloud platforms are:

  • Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Templates on Azure
  • Deployment Manager on Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • Alibaba Cloud Resource Orchestration (ACRO) on Alibaba Cloud
  • Terraform on IBM Cloud, also can be used across multiple cloud platforms including AWS and Azure
  • Resource Manager on Oracle Cloud

All of these services allow you to define and deploy infrastructure as code, similar to AWS CloudFormation. They use different template languages and have their own unique features and capabilities, but the overall concept is similar.

Terraform is a cloud-agnostic tool that can be used across multiple cloud platforms including AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud. So, you can use a single tool to manage and provision resources across different cloud platforms.

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