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AWS CloudFormation
AWS CloudFormation

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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.

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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 Pulumi?

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.
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Why do developers choose AWS CloudFormation?
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    What tools integrate with AWS CloudFormation?
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    What are some alternatives to AWS CloudFormation and Pulumi?
    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.
    See all alternatives
    Decisions about AWS CloudFormation and Pulumi
    Joseph Kunzler
    Joseph Kunzler
    DevOps Engineer at Tillable · | 9 upvotes · 32.3K views
    atTillableTillable
    AWS CloudFormation
    AWS CloudFormation
    AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
    AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
    Amazon EC2
    Amazon EC2
    Amazon S3
    Amazon S3
    Terraform
    Terraform

    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.

    See more
    AWS CloudFormation
    AWS CloudFormation
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    Terraform
    Terraform

    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

    See more
    Interest over time
    Reviews of AWS CloudFormation and Pulumi
    Avatar of timmyers
    Senior Systems Engineer at Infura
    Review ofPulumiPulumi

    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 yaml, 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.

    How developers use AWS CloudFormation and Pulumi
    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 Patty R
    Patty R uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Deploys and maintains the infrastructure.

    Avatar of Pulumi
    Pulumi uses PulumiPulumi

    Build and deploy cloud resources

    How much does AWS CloudFormation cost?
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