AWS CloudFormation vs AWS Elastic Beanstalk: What are the differences?
AWS CloudFormation: Create and manage a collection of related AWS resources. You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work; AWS Elastic Beanstalk: Quickly deploy and manage applications in the AWS cloud. Once you upload your application, Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
AWS CloudFormation belongs to "Infrastructure Build Tools" category of the tech stack, while AWS Elastic Beanstalk can be primarily classified under "Platform as a Service".
Some of the features offered by AWS CloudFormation are:
- AWS CloudFormation comes with the following ready-to-run sample templates: WordPress (blog),Tracks (project tracking), Gollum (wiki used by GitHub), Drupal (content management), Joomla (content management), Insoshi (social apps), Redmine (project mgmt)
- No Need to Reinvent the Wheel – A template can be used repeatedly to create identical copies of the same stack (or to use as a foundation to start a new stack)
- Transparent and Open – Templates are simple JSON formatted text files that can be placed under your normal source control mechanisms, stored in private or public locations such as Amazon S3 and exchanged via email.
On the other hand, AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides the following key features:
- Elastic Beanstalk is built using familiar software stacks such as the Apache HTTP Server for Node.js, PHP and Python, Passenger for Ruby, IIS 7.5 for .NET, and Apache Tomcat for Java
- There is no additional charge for Elastic Beanstalk - you pay only for the AWS resources needed to store and run your applications.
- Easy to begin – Elastic Beanstalk is a quick and simple way to deploy your application to AWS. You simply use the AWS Management Console, Git deployment, or an integrated development environment (IDE) such as Eclipse or Visual Studio to upload your application
"Automates infrastructure deployments" is the primary reason why developers consider AWS CloudFormation over the competitors, whereas "Integrates with other aws services" was stated as the key factor in picking AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
Sellsuki, Close, and Edify are some of the popular companies that use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, whereas AWS CloudFormation is used by Expedia.com, Redox Engine, and TimeHop. AWS Elastic Beanstalk has a broader approval, being mentioned in 374 company stacks & 118 developers stacks; compared to AWS CloudFormation, which is listed in 197 company stacks and 77 developer stacks.
Because Pulumi uses real programming languages, you can actually write abstractions for your infrastructure code, which is incredibly empowering. You still 'describe' your desired state, but by having a programming language at your fingers, you can factor out patterns, and package it up for easier consumption.
We use Terraform to manage AWS cloud environment for the project. It is pretty complex, largely static, security-focused, and constantly evolving.
Terraform provides descriptive (declarative) way of defining the target configuration, where it can work out the dependencies between configuration elements and apply differences without re-provisioning the entire cloud stack.Advantages
Terraform is vendor-neutral in a way that it is using a common configuration language (HCL) with plugins (providers) for multiple cloud and service providers.
Terraform keeps track of the previous state of the deployment and applies incremental changes, resulting in faster deployment times.
Terraform allows us to share reusable modules between projects. We have built an impressive library of modules internally, which makes it very easy to assemble a new project from pre-fabricated building blocks.Disadvantages
Software is imperfect, and Terraform is no exception. Occasionally we hit annoying bugs that we have to work around. The interaction with any underlying APIs is encapsulated inside 3rd party Terraform providers, and any bug fixes or new features require a provider release. Some providers have very poor coverage of the underlying APIs.
Terraform is not great for managing highly dynamic parts of cloud environments. That part is better delegated to other tools or scripts.
Terraform state may go out of sync with the target environment or with the source configuration, which often results in painful reconciliation.
I personally am not a huge fan of vendor lock in for multiple reasons:
- I've seen cost saving moves to the cloud end up costing a fortune and trapping companies due to over utilization of cloud specific features.
- I've seen S3 failures nearly take down half the internet.
- I've seen companies get stuck in the cloud because they aren't built cloud agnostic.
I choose to use terraform for my cloud provisioning for these reasons:
- It's cloud agnostic so I can use it no matter where I am.
- It isn't difficult to use and uses a relatively easy to read language.
- It tests infrastructure before running it, and enables me to see and keep changes up to date.
- It runs from the same CLI I do most of my CM work from.
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