Amazon Web Services (see previous CloudAve coverage) today announced AWS CloudFormation, which lets developers and system admins use recipes to create and provision resources in Amazon cloud. This is conceptually similar to Opscode’s Chef Recipes which lets ops folks configure some aspect of the systems in their ecosystem. Clearly, AWS must have seen how Chef (and, of course, cfengine and puppet) has changed the configuration management landscape and wanted to do something which will help baking clouds much easier. CloudFormation is a right step in this direction.
With CloudFormation, developers can either use templates available in the library or create their own templates to describe AWS resources and the associated runtime needs of their application without worrying about the order in which the AWS resources should be provisioned and, also, making the provisioning work seamlessly with live applications without any disruption.
AWS CloudFormation supports many AWS resources including EC2, EBS Volumes, Load Balancers, Elastic IP, Security and Autoscaling Groups, Elastic Beanstalk, Cloudwatch Alarms, RDS, SimpleDB, SNS, etc.. They have also released recipes to install some of the open source applications like WordPress, Drupa, tracks, Redmine, Joomla, etc.. With just a few configuration details like the type of EC2 instance, autoscaling limits, etc. one can easily get these applications running in minutes.
AWS CloudFormation is definitely the next logical evolution for Amazon. This also gives them an opportunity to try and lock in their customers inside their ecosystem. If anyone expected them not to take this step, they are being naive about how business is done in this competitive world. Amazon is doing everything right to stay as the largest cloud player in the market. However, I do think that it doesn’t bode well for the players in the AWS ecosystem.
Even though I still stand by my argument that Amazon will not do anything to hurt their customers like Netflix, I am not so sure about what they can do to their ecosystem players. I have said this many times in the past including this post on Amazon RDS announcement
This announcement will also crush the Y-Combinator startup FathomDB that offers database as a service that is run on top of Amazon EC2. It will be interesting to see how they respond to this announcement. Probably, this announcement should also serve as a warning bell for the companies that build their entire business on Amazon ecosystem. They are just one announcement away from complete destruction. It is not unique to Amazon ecosystem alone. It can happen to any company whose business relies entirely on one vendor’s ecosystem.
Some pundits see this as a direct threat to Chef and Puppet but it is definitely not the case. Chef and Puppet are more focussed on configuration management and are not reliant on AWS in any way. However, it does affect some large players like Rightscale (see previous CloudAve coverage) and smaller ones like Bitnami (see previous CloudAve coverage). Even though their businesses are not entirely reliant on AWS alone, it does highlight the risk of any provider being reliant on a single cloud provider ecosystem, especially ambitious ones like Amazon. Do you think tt is yet another wake up call for anyone wanting to build a business around AWS Cloud?
PS: As a side note, I would love to portray CloudFormation as yet another incremental step towards building the Ops tombstone. It did provoke some backlash on Twitter and I would love to see similar one here
- Does AWS CloudFormation Eliminate the need for RightScale? (lockergnome.com)
- Amazon adds cloud apps service to hosting offerings (v3.co.uk)
- Amazon automates AWS app deployment (go.theregister.com)
- AWS CloudFormation – Create Your AWS Stack From a Recipe (aws.typepad.com)
- Amazon aims to make it easier to build complex clouds (infoworld.com)
- Amazon Web Services launches CloudFormation: Infrastructure recipes (ZDNet)