AWS CloudFormation vs Pulumi: 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; Pulumi: Open-source cloud development platform. Pulumi is a cloud development platform that makes creating cloud programs easy and productive. Skip the YAML and just write code. Pulumi is multi-language, multi-cloud and fully extensible in both its engine and ecosystem of packages.
AWS CloudFormation and Pulumi can be primarily classified as "Infrastructure Build" tools.
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, Pulumi provides the following key features:
- Containers - Deploy a Docker container to production in 5 minutes using your favorite orchestrator.
- Serverless - Stand up a serverless API or event handler in 5 minutes using a real lambda in code.
- Infrastructure - Manage cloud infrastructure or hosted services using infrastructure as code.
Pulumi is an open source tool with 3.02K GitHub stars and 134 GitHub forks. Here's a link to Pulumi's open source repository on GitHub.
What is AWS CloudFormation?
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We use Terraform because we needed a way to automate the process of building and deploying feature branches. We wanted to hide the complexity such that when a dev creates a PR, it triggers a build and deployment without the dev having to worry about any of the 'plumbing' going on behind the scenes. Terraform allows us to automate the process of provisioning DNS records, Amazon S3 buckets, Amazon EC2 instances and AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)'s. It also makes it easy to tear it all down when finished. We also like that it supports multiple clouds, which is why we chose to use it over AWS CloudFormation.
I use Terraform because it hits the level of abstraction pocket of being high-level and flexible, and is agnostic to cloud platforms. Creating complex infrastructure components for a solution with a UI console is tedious to repeat. Using low-level APIs are usually specific to cloud platforms, and you still have to build your own tooling for deploying, state management, and destroying infrastructure.
However, Terraform is usually slower to implement new services compared to cloud-specific APIs. It's worth the trade-off though, especially if you're multi-cloud. I heard someone say, "We want to preference a cloud, not lock in to one." Terraform builds on that claim.
Terraform Google Cloud Deployment Manager AWS CloudFormation
After using Pulumi extensively, it's hard to imagine going back to using Terraform on a regular basis.
Pulumi finally fulfills the promise of writing Infrastructure as code. Not
HCL, but real, honest to goodness code.
The flexibility and power is addictive and empowering. Provision a K8S cluster on EKS, grab the Github webhook source IP's from https://api.github.com/meta, and run Jenkins on the newly provisioned K8S cluster with a helm chart, allowing ingress from Github, all in a few lines of sane, maintainable code.
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.
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.
Manage infrastructure as codes. Native AWS solution so it has better support to AWS resources than Terraform, also can leverage AWS Business Support.