Amazon Web Services builds easy cloud templates for firms

25 Feb 2011

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a new CloudFormation product that makes it easier for developers and businesses to create collections of AWS resources and provision them in an orderly and predictable fashion.

Amazon said customers can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create their own templates to describe the AWS resources required to run their applications.

AWS CloudFormation then manages the complexity of provisioning those resources in the required order so developers don’t have to worry about sequencing or interdependencies. AWS CloudFormation is available at no additional charge – customers pay only for the AWS resources required to run their applications.

It emerged in recent weeks that Amazon is investing in a major data centre expansion in Dublin. It has acquired a former Tesco storage facility in Dublin 24. Amazon has bought a 22,539 sq-metre facility at Greenhills Industrial Estate in Dublin 24.

The company plans to convert the former warehouse into a cutting-edge cloud computing data centre.

The company has also leased space for a data centre expansion in the Snugborough Industrial Estate in Ballycoolin and the Clonshaugh Industrial Estate. Amazon, which employs 450 people at a multilingual customer support centre in Cork, in 2006 signed a 10-year lease with Digital Realty Trust, which owns both data centres.

The ‘what’ and ‘how’ of cloud resources

With AWS CloudFormation, customers describe “what” resources are needed and AWS CloudFormation takes care of “how” those resources are provisioned.

For example, AWS CloudFormation templates concisely capture resource relationships, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances that must be associated with an Elastic Load Balancer, or an Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volume that must be in the same Availability Zone as the Amazon EC2 instance.

These templates free developers from having to think about and navigate these types of interdependencies. In addition, customers can use AWS CloudFormation templates to create identical copies of the same AWS infrastructure stack that will run over and over as needed, removing the need for developers to manually recreate an application’s stack for each deployment.

A game idea

“The idea for AWS CloudFormation came to us while we were building our own applications on top of AWS services,” said Adam Selipsky, vice-president, Amazon Web Services.

“Rather than repeatedly building the same infrastructure and manually managing the dependencies between resources each time, our developer teams started creating templates to seamlessly handle the provisioning. We found this to be so useful that we decided to offer it up to our customers.

“AWS CloudFormation allows developers and businesses to focus on their applications while leaving the provisioning details to AWS,” Selipsky said.

EA2D is a new studio within Electronic Arts that is building blockbuster and cross-platform social games.

“For the release of Dragon Age Legends, EA2D uses highly automated and dynamic infrastructure running on AWS. While this allows us to scale seamlessly, provisioning new environments is still a manual process,” said Mike Babineau, Systems Architect, EA2D.

“AWS CloudFormation eliminates the manual processes and allows our developers to fire up infrastructure stacks at will. We can now use a single command to launch a duplicate of our production environment, which is perfect for feature development, load tests, or hotfixes.”

Ylastic provides a unified management console service to AWS customers. “We are really excited about AWS Cloud Formation,” said Prabhakar Chaganti, CTO of Ylastic.

“We have integrated management for AWS CloudFormation into Ylastic services and are releasing it today. This new service simplifies the deployment of resources and makes it easier to build a wide range of cloud-enabled enterprise and business applications,” Chaganti said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years