Achieving Automated Infrastructure: A Refresher Course for High Scalability Architecture

By Flux7 Labs
November 14, 2014

It’s been a busy and eye-opening week at Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2014 for the Flux7 team. Keynotes. New products and services. Lots of discussion about strategies and tools to include DevOps for enterprises and DevOps for small businesses in your infrastructure plans. Even some fun and excitement. The Venetian in Las Vegas has been very inviting.

Like much of the industry, we have been making the rounds at re:Invent and discussing best practices as well as new ways to build efficient, self-managing cloud infrastructure and create business agility. We’ve been keeping a keen eye on “what’s next” at this annual confab for AWS partners and customers.

There’s much to discuss and share as we move forward on our mission to create a production-ready environment for those companies using or moving to AWS.

We’re looking to give you a full update and recap, as well as our observations, thoughts and insights, once we hit the ground (running … fast) back in Austin, Texas. It’s all about making sure you get the AWS infrastructure for your business needs to scale and become agile, without managed services and in-house maintenance teams.

Here’s what an efficient AWS infrastructure would offer your business:

Automated Infrastructure Management: As mentioned in this post, one of the rules to drop and start thinking cloud is to stop thinking servers as pets and view them as cattle instead. In a nutshell, the idea is to replace a faulty server with a new server rather than trying to fix the fault consuming unwanted time and resources.

Using Amazon CloudFormation templates is feasible and easy to create entire environments as automated processes by setting up a deployment script. This also leads to using push-button deployment features by spinning an environment with just one click.

Health Checks & DR Tools Integration: There are two strong reasons to set up appropriate monitoring, logging and health check tools.

One is to keep track of the resource usage in the infrastructure. Unused infrastructure could end up draining your business resources. Businesses have varying needs for resources, including compute, network and memory. Scaling as needed is key to avoid unnecessary costs.

The second reason to use such third-party monitoring and health check tools is to prepare for the unforeseen. All kinds of unfortunate events have happened in the past that led to failures of cloud adopters.

However, while analyzing the root cause of such events, it’s clear that a lack of a proper disaster recovery strategy and tools to monitor mishaps are some of the key reasons. By using AWS Cloud Watch or third-party tools, such as CloudCheckr, New Relic, CopperEgg or Stack Driver, it’s possible to monitor your cloud infrastructure for security breaches, errors and health checks, as well as easily integrate them with your AWS infrastructure.

Quicker Provision of Resources: It no longer takes weeks or months to provision new resources. Servers can be spun and running within minutes. Quicker provisioning implies the following:

  • Easier new employee ramp up, with more consistent configurations.

  • Improved developer productivity. Shorter dev and test cycles were specifically called out by Werner Vogels in his opening keynote at re:Invent as a way to spur innovation.

  • Increased business agility through the ability to respond to new opportunities.

In the meantime, here’s a refresher on some of the other benefits of AWS. Take a read of some previous posts that will help you get a better grasp as to why AWS is a good choice for your business:

  • Why Startups Are Choosing Amazon Web Services & 6 Reasons Why Large Enterprises Should Consider Moving to Amazon Web Services: We continue to see a steady stream of startups and enterprises moving to AWS from other providers. No doubt, AWS is difficult to beat for costs, stability and its robust tool set. Click on the titles to learn some of the reasons why AWS is the most opted choice by enterprises and startups.

  • Lessons Learned from Code Spaces: What to Do with AWS Now: Amazon supports several security certifications. However, as we mentioned in our post about Code Spaces, security of the cloud compared to on-premise security is still in question. Click on the title to find out and better understand some possible solutions that will overcome your security challenges.

  • AWS: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Amazon is widely recognized, even by industry research groups like Gartner, as the cloud leader in regard to its scalability, security, flexibility and costs. But, there are downsides. And many organizations are discovering it too late in the game of cloud migration. And they are exposing themselves unnecessarily to business risks. Click on the title to discover where some of Amazon’s weakness lie and the differences in perspectives held by Devs and Ops.

AWS Best Practices to help you Scale Quickly

Beyond the proper configuration of your AWS setup, bridging the gap between the language of IT, operations and that of Amazon is essential. Unfortunately, AWS is not intuitive. There is a reason that AWS certified consultants are highly sought after. Business moves fast, and there often isn’t an opportunity to wait months to get your in-house IT team educated on AWS best practices. Our customers estimate we help to accelerate their project delivery by as much as 10 times what they could have achieved on their own.

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