AWS CloudFormation vs AWS OpsWorks

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AWS CloudFormation vs AWS OpsWorks: What are the differences?

What is 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.

What is AWS OpsWorks? Model and manage your entire application from load balancers to databases using Chef. Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component .

AWS CloudFormation and AWS OpsWorks are primarily classified as "Infrastructure Build" and "Server Configuration and Automation" tools respectively.

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 OpsWorks provides the following key features:

  • AWS OpsWorks lets you model the different components of your application as layers in a stack, and maps your logical architecture to a physical architecture. You can see all resources associated with your application, and their status, in one place.
  • AWS OpsWorks provides an event-driven configuration system with rich deployment tools that allow you to efficiently manage your applications over their lifetime, including support for customizable deployments, rollback, partial deployments, patch management, automatic instance scaling, and auto healing.
  • AWS OpsWorks lets you define template configurations for your entire environment in a format that you can maintain and version just like your application source code.

"Automates infrastructure deployments" is the primary reason why developers consider AWS CloudFormation over the competitors, whereas "Devops" was stated as the key factor in picking AWS OpsWorks.

According to the StackShare community, AWS CloudFormation has a broader approval, being mentioned in 195 company stacks & 75 developers stacks; compared to AWS OpsWorks, which is listed in 73 company stacks and 18 developer stacks.

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What is AWS CloudFormation?

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.

What is AWS OpsWorks?

Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component 
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    What are some alternatives to AWS CloudFormation and AWS OpsWorks?
    AWS CodeDeploy
    AWS CodeDeploy is a service that automates code deployments to Amazon EC2 instances. AWS CodeDeploy makes it easier for you to rapidly release new features, helps you avoid downtime during deployment, and handles the complexity of updating your applications.
    Chef
    Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.
    Terraform
    With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
    AWS Elastic Beanstalk
    Once you upload your application, Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
    AWS Config
    AWS Config is a fully managed service that provides you with an AWS resource inventory, configuration history, and configuration change notifications to enable security and governance. With AWS Config you can discover existing AWS resources, export a complete inventory of your AWS resources with all configuration details, and determine how a resource was configured at any point in time. These capabilities enable compliance auditing, security analysis, resource change tracking, and troubleshooting.
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    Decisions about AWS CloudFormation and AWS OpsWorks
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    How developers use AWS CloudFormation and AWS OpsWorks
    Avatar of CloudRepo
    CloudRepo uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manually clicking around the AWS UI or scripting AWS CLI calls can be both a slow and brittle process.

    We needed to be able to reconstruct CloudRepo's infrastructure in case of disaster or moving to another AWS Region.

    Setting up our infrastructure with CloudFormation allows us to update it easily as well as duplicate or recreate things when the need arises.

    Avatar of Opstax Ltd
    Opstax Ltd uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Opstax uses CloudFormation for anything infrastructure related! CloudFormation allows us to use infrastructure-as-code as a constant blueprint/map of our environment. It means we can accurately and efficiently deploy replicated or new infrastructure with no time wasted clicking around and no human error.

    Avatar of Flux Work
    Flux Work uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manage infrastructure as codes. Native AWS solution so it has better support to AWS resources than Terraform, also can leverage AWS Business Support.

    Avatar of Endource
    Endource uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manages the infrastructure for core website

    Avatar of thanawatsenawat
    thanawatsenawat uses AWS OpsWorksAWS OpsWorks

    Automate deploy application without SMTP.

    Avatar of Patty R
    Patty R uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Deploys and maintains the infrastructure.

    Avatar of Hund
    Hund uses AWS OpsWorksAWS OpsWorks

    Chef server deployments.

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