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Automating application installation with AWS OpsWorks

Installing an application using AWS OpsWorks is simple -- just follow these four basic steps.

How do I install an application using AWS OpsWorks?

OpsWorks is an application deployment tool from Amazon Web Services that allows developers to automate and manage an application installation -- from creation through load balancing. This tool is free of charge; subscribers only pay for the computer, storage and other billable resources they use.

As with other AWS resources, you can run OpsWorks through either the AWS Management Console, a command-line interface or through an application using an SDK. The process for installing an application through OpsWorks includes four steps: creating a stack, defining layers of the stack, assigning instances to each layer and then deploying your applications.

  1. Creating a stack in the AWS console is straightforward. The wizard-like interface allows you to specify typical deployment information, such as the region to deploy your instances, the availability zone, an Identity Management role and a default SSH key.
  2. To create a layer, the management console prompts you to select a layer type (e.g., PHP or MySQL) and a load balancer specification.
  3. Once you have defined the layer, you are prompted to add and configure an instance for that layer. You can specify the instance size and a hostname when adding instances to layers. Starting instances can take a few minutes, but the console will update with status information as the instance moves through several states, including requested, pending, booting, running_setup, and online.
  4. Now you can deploy your application. OpsWorks runs deployment scripts to download your code and run startup commands. The AWS console prompts for configuration parameters, such as the name of your application, application type, repository type and a URL.

As stacks become more complex, there are additional application installation steps. If you're deploying a MySQL database, for example, you'll need to specify information about the database connection, such as a username, password and hostname.

About the author:
Dan Sullivan holds a Master of Science degree and is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

This was first published in April 2014

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