How to Simplify and Optimize Your DevOps with AWS CloudFormation
Between the massive adoption of digital transformation over the past two years, the increasing customer demand for new products and features, and the need to continuously optimize business operations to keep up with a competitive market, DevOps growth is skyrocketing. In fact, recent research from Global Industry Analysts Inc. states: “Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for DevOps estimated at US$6 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$17.8 billion by 2026.”
This massive growth in the DevOps market makes sense. DevOps empowers companies to slash long lead times and remove traditional barriers to change—helping IT teams build, deploy and release change faster. DevOps has also become an integral part of helping organizations modernize legacy applications through continuous improvements of their cloud infrastructure, opening a business up to the seemingly limitless possibilities of digital transformation.
Despite these benefits, however, implementing DevOps is no easy task. The process of developing and testing new software and applications can be time-consuming, and it often requires specialized knowledge and a significant amount of resources. Ultimately, this can put an overwhelming burden on IT teams that already are working with limited time, headcounts and budget. That’s why, to overcome some of these common challenges, more and more companies are turning to Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) CloudFormation—a platform to help DevOps teams deploy resources faster, more efficiently and at scale.
In this blog post, we break down three essential features of CloudFormation that help IT teams optimize DevOps processes, deliver new products and features faster and remove roadblocks on the path to digital transformation.
AWS CloudFormation to the DevOps Rescue
In short, AWS’ CloudFormation service simplifies how DevOps teams work. CloudFormation does this by allowing AWS customers to create and manage multiple AWS components to build and test software applications and other web services.
Now that you know what CloudFormation does at a high level, here’s a little more detail on how it works—and the benefits that come with it. First, AWS customers build a YAML template. YAML files are easy for humans to read and write, and they are designed for machines to read and then parse and generate. The YAML template serves as a blueprint, which then defines all of the AWS resources required for a company’s specific application and infrastructure resource stack. After uploading the template to CloudFormation, the application stack is built according to the parameters set forth in the YAML file.
Throughout this process, there are three unique features that come into play that are especially helpful in optimizing DevOps processes and making the lives of DevOps teams a lot easier:
1. Automatic Provisioning and Configuration of Resource Stack – Once you build a YAML file or select a template for your application from a range of pre-built custom templates, CloudFormation automatically provisions and configures your resource stack for you. This saves DevOps teams significant time and energy, as they historically had to perform all of these configurations manually.
For example, if the application you’re working on requires storage blobs, a relational database, streaming media services and enterprise-level computing power, CloudFormation will pull together the AWS resources needed (such as Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Relational Database Service (RDS) and Elastic Beanstalk), and provision them to match the requirements built in your YAML file or pre-built template.
2. Ease of Replication – DevOps often requires multiple replications. You probably already know that if you want to add to an existing application, you must replicate the current application and then build and test the new functionality before making adjustments to the running app. This methodology helps companies avoid downtime and data corruption, and it’s often used to create different scenarios to find the best configurations possible for an application in progress. While the benefits of this process are undeniable, it can be tedious and time-consuming—especially for teams with limited time and resources.
With CloudFormation, however, replication is done with a few clicks of a mouse. If you want to replicate a specific form stack, all you have to do is make another instance using the same YAML template, and AWS builds the replication for you. Easy!
3. Version Control of Infrastructure Architecture – Tracking your history in DevOps is a necessity for multiple reasons. First, as you make changes, sometimes unexpected results occur, which can create problems in the application. Tracing back the history can help you identify what caused the issue, so you can fix it quickly. Additionally, tracking the development process also is required for security purposes to make sure that your applications and infrastructure don’t have any holes that threat actors can exploit.
Version Control in CloudFormation keeps track of all changes and allows customers to version control IT infrastructure in the same way they would with software coding. Ultimately, this can help your team reduce the risk of oversights and human error.
Partnering for DevOps Success
Inefficient DevOps processes or difficulty adopting DevOps practices can leave your company at a disadvantage, making it difficult to deliver new applications and services, enable new digital transformation technologies and keep up with customer demand.
While AWS CloudFormation helps to simplify the DevOps process, finding and building the right internal team to carry out these critical initiatives is still a major roadblock for many businesses. In fact, according to a 2020 report by the DevOps Institute, finding and retaining DevOps talent was the biggest challenge for more than 1,000 IT professionals surveyed.
To meet this demand, many organizations are turning to managed DevOps services—either to help augment internal IT teams or outsource those skills entirely. In addition to AWS CloudFormation support, Navisite offers our Cloud DevOps Service. Our dedicated team of engineers provides customers with the expertise, experience and support needed to modernize legacy workloads; quickly deploy products, services, features and changes; and improve technical operations while optimizing business processes.
For real-world examples of our Cloud DevOps Service in action, check out our Advanced Cyber Security case study as well as MediaZilla’s story. To learn more about Navisite’s Cloud DevOps Service and how we can support your DevOps goals, watch our on-demand webinar: DevOps Automation on AWS: How to Free Your Teams and Deploy Faster.