AWS Developer Tools Provide Continuous Deployment to Amazon ECS

By Flux7 Labs
February 21, 2017


To support the business as best as possible, it’s important for Development to issue new features — or greenfield solutions — to market as quickly as possible. It’s not a stretch to say that many organizations’ ability to compete successfully depends on their speedy delivery of new products to customer. And in some cases first mover status is the difference between owning a market or bowing out of one.

To that end, we have written frequently about Continuous Delivery as a business driver and key tenet of DevOps as we see in our DevOps consulting practice. As we’ve indicated in these pieces, code delivery should be fast, automated and boring. Just like an airplane ride, you don’t really want any excitement in your CD process. Continuous delivery (CD) taken to its logical extension is continuous deployment where builds that pass the automated gates in your process are then automatically deployed to production. Not every company can reach the goal of CD due to compliance, or other business issues that mandate either a manual step in the process, or a waiting period before deployment. However, when achieved continuous deployment is certainly a benefit to the business.

Continuous deployment:

  • Provides the ability to automatically deliver updates to users when they are ready and available. No longer do users need to wait for batch updates to be conducted which means that updates can be delivered to market weeks, sometimes months faster.
  • Results in faster delivery of code fixes and new features, which translates into greater customer satisfaction as customers are able to quickly begin using new features, benefiting from them immediately.
  • Frees up Developers and Operations to focus on strategic initiatives, rather than process. Moreover, automation encourages the use of best practices, which means greater efficiency and security are built into the process.

How can AWS Developer Tools Services Help?
We recently wrote about how to create Continuous Delivery workflows for CloudFormation stacks with AWS CodePipeline. Since that time, we’ve had the opportunity to review the new AWS CodeBuild — a fully managed build service — and think it is a powerful tool for creating a completely serverless build pipeline.

Together, AWS development tools services can provide continuous deployment to AWS ECS. Having been at the forefront of AWS ECS, our work was showcased at the 2014 re:Invent conference. And, today, we are running containerized microservices in ECS, even facilitating ECS autoscaling for Rent-A-Center’s SAP Hybris ecommerce solution. That said, here’s how our DevOps consulting team  build the workflow for our clients. (Hat tip to Chris Barclay at AWS for a great blog that walks-through these steps.)

The steps:

For example, we recently worked with a healthcare organization who is making a transformation to its technology delivery by moving to a microservices architecture. Within this organization, Development works on multiple microservices and uses automation to submit its changes to the pipeline that they deliver from. At the time, CodePipeline did not have a function to deploy to AWS CloudFormation, so we went back to the customer and conducted an internal proof of concept, showing them how to unite the pipeline; all CloudFormation code follows the process outlined above.

While fully automated continuous delivery is the end goal, in our initial discussion, the team asked if the process could include a manual step. Indeed, CodePipeline can facilitate this request via a step for manual approval, which we took advantage of.

As AWS DevOps tools continue to be built and refined  — and specifically those for Continuous Deployment — the benefits organizations see will only continue to grow. Indeed, as automation of the code pipeline increases, so does the quality of its results and the speed to market. Conversely, development costs will decrease and productivity will grow.

To read a practical example of a company leveraging AWS developer tools you can read how an oil and gas industry enterprise gained IoT infrastructure for optimized project crewing moving data, not people around the world.

If you are interested in exploring how AWS Developer tools services can play an integral role in bringing automation and IT modernization to your environment, contact us today or read our paper on Code Pipeline Optimization

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