Checklist: Tools to see into AWS infrastructure Credit: Elements of this image furnished by Sean MacEntee (via Flickr)
Infrastructure Management

Checklist: Tools to see into AWS infrastructure

This is a contributed piece by JT Giri, the creator of AWS cloud security tool, nops.io

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides products and services for cloud ecosystems. Whether you utilise them for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), the industry giant offers multiple price points and packages to fit the needs of any company or organisation. AWS offers compliance with security standards, flexible packages, pricing that fits your budget, and infrastructure reliability. While it can't provide security of what you put on the cloud (other companies do that), it offers security of the cloud itself so you can rest assured that your data is safe and in a protected place.

Whether you are looking for inventory and configuration tracking, change orchestration, or third-party options, there are many different AWS resources to help provide a complete bird's-eye view of your AWS infrastructure. By using some of the following tools, you will not only have a better overview of your AWS infrastructure, but you will better be able to optimise your cloud usage and costs.

 

Inventory and configuration tracking tools

Inventory and configuration tracking tools are designed to help customers identify their AWS resources while at the same time tracking how they change over time. There are multiple tools that can assist with this but one of the best is AWS Config.

AWS Config

AWS Config provides a complete bird’s-eye view of your infrastructure while ensuring that you stay compliant to industry standards and secure against potential threats or compromises. It gives you a detailed inventory of your current configuration of AWS resources and it records all of the configuration changes in real-time. From one convenient management panel, you can see multiple pieces of important information.

Change orchestration tools

Change orchestration tools are developed to assist with the management and coordination of changes that happen to AWS resources. These can include the creation of resources, their modifications, or their termination.

CloudFormation

One of the most popular types of change orchestration tools is AWS CloudFormation. CloudFormation provides developers and system admins an efficient and simple way to manage AWS resources, from creation and modifications to termination. CloudFormation simplifies the entire process of infrastructure management, mainly through the use of templates and stacks.

When a template is submitted, CloudFormation creates the resources needed and builds a running instance of the template, called a stack, finishing all of the dependencies and data flows automatically. You have the ability to make changes to the stack after it has been deployed, essentially giving you the same type of control to your AWS infrastructure as you have with your software.

Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is another type of change orchestration tool that helps you deploy and manage web applications. Elastic Beanstalk has an adjustable autoscale, so you literally cannot grow faster than what it can handle. At the same time, this allows you to contract your apps if needed so you don't waste space or money.

A huge benefit of Elastic Beanstalk is that although it does do a lot of the deployment and management for you, you still have complete control over your AWS resources and can access them at any time.

Partners and third-party tools

While AWS provides a huge multitude of resources and tools for your infrastructure and platforms, there are also other third-party tools available to provide a bird’s-eye view of your AWS infrastructure. You can choose from various AWS Partner Network (APN) tools to assist with OS and application stack configuration management. Three of the most common third-party tools are Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.

Chef

Chef provides an efficient and easy way to automate your AWS services and resources. If you are thinking of migrating to the Cloud, Chef can greatly assist with your adoption path. It also provides a consistent and reliable way to move workloads across environments, helping your DevOps team to build, deploys, and manage workloads effectively.

Puppet

Puppet is another popular third-party tool that provides your organisation with an automatic way to inspect, deliver, operate, and grow all of your software. It is a good choice to utilise if you are focused on a tool that has been around for a while and has proven itself in some of the most demanding environments. Puppet is beneficial for large enterprises and greatly assists with configuration management.

Ansible

Ansible is another open-source tool that is designed to deploy applications as well as manage a variety of AWS services. It is built on playbooks that you can apply to a variety of systems, and it is focused on streamlining and being fast. Once you describe your applications with Ansible, you can easily scale out instances with reliable and consistent results.

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