Amazon updates CloudFormation update processes

AWS: Reinvent

Developers and systems administrators can already use Amazon Web Services' template-driven CloudFormation service to create and manage groups of associated cloud services that make up their applications. Now two updates will further automate that process, according to a post on the AWS web site. 

First, new parallel stack creation, update and deletion capabilities mean that CloudFormation can perform all those operations on your application stack in parallel rather than sequentially. That means faster performance, according to AWS.

Second, while  CloudFormation already lets developers nest a stack as a resource inside a single template, now they can update the top-level stack once and have those updates ripple throughout the whole related stack by clicking on an Update Stack button on their console.

Here’s an example from the AWS blog:

“A three-tier application is defined in a top-level template that has web tier, app tier, and database tier as nested stacks. Using CloudFormation, the top level stack and the nested stacks are created together and in the correct order. After the stacks are created, we want to add a new IAM user to the top-level stack and CloudWatch alarms to the web tier and the app tier. With the introduction of nested stack updates, we can update the top level stack, the web tier stack, and the app tier stack together and in the correct order. The stack for the database tier, which has no changes, would not be updated. Before introduction of nested stack updates, we would have had to update each of the nested stacks individually.”


Update: Dan Belcher, co-founder of Stackdriver, an avid AWS watcher, said while this is a fairly minor update it does illustrate that Amazon wants to do a good job supporting more complex application architectures and bring on more sophisticated features while competitors are still trying to get core IaaS components out the door. For example he cited news last week that Google launching new load balancing  for Google Compute Engine.

Amazon partisans hold that AWS is so far ahead of the competitors it has an insurmountable lead. Long-time industry watchers like myself would caution that Novell and Netscape Communications and Lotus Development also once had what seemed to be insurmountable leads. And where are they now exactly?

This story was updated at 8:36 a.m. PDT August 13, 2013 with Belcher’s comment.

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