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AWS Elastic Beanstalk vs AWS OpsWorks: What are the differences?


When it comes to deploying and managing applications on the AWS cloud, two popular options are AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS OpsWorks. Both services offer different approaches to application management, scaling, and automation. Understanding the key differences between them can help you choose the right tool for your specific needs.

  1. Management Approach: AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that abstracts away the underlying infrastructure, allowing developers to focus on the application code. In contrast, AWS OpsWorks is a Configuration Management service that follows an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach, giving users more control over the configuration and management of the underlying resources.

  2. Scalability and Flexibility: Elastic Beanstalk is designed to be easy to use and scales applications automatically based on predefined configurations. OpsWorks, on the other hand, provides more flexibility in terms of customization and scaling options, allowing users to define custom stacks, layer configurations, and scaling rules to meet specific requirements.

  3. Supported Technologies: Elastic Beanstalk supports a limited set of programming languages and frameworks, such as Java, .NET, Node.js, Python, Ruby, etc., making it ideal for web applications. OpsWorks, on the other hand, offers more flexibility by supporting a wider range of technologies and allows users to bring their own Chef recipes and cookbooks for configuration.

  4. Cost Structure: Elastic Beanstalk is a fully managed service with no additional charges for the underlying infrastructure, as users only pay for the AWS resources consumed by their applications. OpsWorks follows a different pricing model, where users pay for the AWS resources used by the instances managed by OpsWorks, along with additional charges for OpsWorks-related features like Automation, Monitoring, and Security.

  5. Automation and Customization: While Elastic Beanstalk focuses on streamlining the deployment and management of applications with minimal configuration, OpsWorks offers more automation capabilities through Chef recipes, allowing users to automate complex configuration tasks and set up custom deployment workflows with greater control and customization.

  6. Integration with Other AWS Services: Elastic Beanstalk integrates seamlessly with other AWS services like Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, and RDS, providing a simplified and integrated solution for deploying and scaling applications. OpsWorks offers similar integrations but provides more flexibility in how these services are integrated and configured within the OpsWorks stacks.

In Summary, understanding the key differences between AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS OpsWorks can help organizations make informed decisions when choosing the right tool for deploying and managing their applications on the AWS cloud.

Decisions about AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS OpsWorks
Nick Skriabin

Initially, we were running our infra on an OpsWorks as we had some (very little, to be honest) experience with it. Unfortunately, it's really hard to scale OpsWorks without good knowledge of Chef, so we moved to EB. Everything was ok with it unless we faced an unexpected downtime one day and we were unable to identify the problem. Access to logs was locked and instances were severe/degraded and stuck in this state, deploys didn't work and the whole service was down and frozen. At this point we decided, that its a great time to move to Docker and EKS. Luckily, at current scale it took not so much time to containerize server app and launch it on EKS – we migrated to EKS within 2.5 full days.

Wrapping up: lack of good knowledge of Chef and poor reliability and accessibility of AWS EB forced us to move to EKS which works perfectly fine now and covers all our needs, plus it is much more flexible and reliable in terms of scalability and management. We now can track everything that happens with infra with no pain, integrate any additional logging solutions and be sure, that even if something go wrong, we'll be able at least identify the problem and fix it ASAP instead of trying to fight with the service itself.

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Pros of AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Pros of AWS OpsWorks
  • 77
    Integrates with other aws services
  • 65
    Simple deployment
  • 44
  • 28
  • 16
  • 4
  • 3
    Independend app container
  • 2
    Postgres hosting
  • 2
    Ability to be customized
  • 32
  • 19
    Cloud management

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Cons of AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Cons of AWS OpsWorks
  • 2
    Charges appear automatically after exceeding free quota
  • 1
    Lots of moving parts and config
  • 0
    Slow deployments
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