AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk can be used to quickly deploy and manage applications in the AWS Cloud.

Developers upload applications and Elastic Beanstalk handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk leverages Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling to automatically scale your application in and out based on your application’s specific needs.

In addition, multiple availability zones give you an option to improve application reliability and availability by running in more than one zone.

Considered a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution.

Elastic Beanstalk has some similarities with AWS CloudFormation though they are also quite different as detailed in the table below:

CloudFormation vs Elastic Beanstalk

Supports Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, and Docker web applications.

Deploys to server platforms such as Apache Tomcat, Nginx, Passenger, Puma, and IIS.

Developers can focus on writing code and don’t need to worry about deploying infrastructure.

You maintain full control of the underlying resources.

You pay only for the resources provisioned, not for Elastic Beanstalk itself.

Elastic Beanstalk automatically scales your application up and down.

You can select the EC2 instance type that is optimal for your application.

Can retain full administrative control or have Elastic Beanstalk do it for you.

The Managed Platform Updates feature automatically applies updates for your operating system, Java, PHP, Node.js etc.

Elastic Beanstalk monitors and manages application health and information is viewable via a dashboard.

AWS CloudFormation is used by Elastic Beanstalk to deploy the resources.

Integrated with CloudWatch and X-Ray for performance data and metrics.

Elastic Beanstalk Layers

There are several layers that make up Elastic Beanstalk and each layer is described below:

Application:

  • Within Elastic Beanstalk, an application is a collection of different elements, such as environments, environment configurations, and application versions.
  • You can have multiple application versions held within an application.

Application version:

  • An application version is a very specific reference to a section of deployable code.
  • The application version will point typically to an Amazon s3 bucket containing the code.

Environment:

  • An environment refers to an application version that has been deployed on AWS resources.
  • The resources are configured and provisioned by AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
  • The environment is comprised of all the resources created by Elastic Beanstalk and not just an EC2 instance with your uploaded code.

Elastic Beanstalk Applications Environments and Versions

Environment tier:

  • Determines how Elastic Beanstalk provisions resources based on what the application is designed to do.
  • Web servers are standard applications that listen for and then process HTTP requests, typically over port 80.
  • Workers are specialized applications that have a background processing task that listens for messages on an Amazon SQS queue.

Environment configurations:

  • An environment configuration is a collection of parameters and settings that dictate how an environment will have its resources provisioned by Elastic Beanstalk and how these resources will behave.

Configuration template:

  • This is a template that provides the baseline for creating a new, unique environment configuration.

Click the image above to watch the FREE Video Tutorial on Elastic Beanstalk Deployment Options

Deployment and Provisioning

AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides several options for how deployments are processed, including deployment policies and options that let you configure batch size and health check behavior during deployments.

Deployment options

Single instance: great for development.

High availability with load balancer: great for production.

Deployment policies

The deployment policies are: All at once, Rolling, Rolling with additional batch, and Immutable.

All at once:

  • Deploys the new version to all instances simultaneously.
  • All of your instances are out of service while the deployment takes place.
  • Fastest deployment.
  • Good for quick iterations in the development environment.
  • You will experience an outage while the deployment is taking place – not ideal for mission-critical systems.
  • If the update fails, you need to roll back the changes by re-deploying the original version to all of your instances.
  • No additional cost.

Rolling:

  • Update a few instances at a time (batch), and then move onto the next batch once the first batch is healthy (downtime for 1 batch at a time).
  • The application is running both versions simultaneously.
  • Each batch of instances is taken out of service while the deployment takes place.
  • Your environment capacity will be reduced by the number of instances in a batch while the deployment takes place.
  • Not ideal for performance-sensitive systems.
  • If the update fails, you need to perform an additional rolling update to roll back the changes.
  • No additional cost.
  • Long deployment time.

Rolling with additional batch:

  • Like Rolling but launches new instances in a batch ensuring that there is full availability.
  • The application is running at capacity.
  • You can set the bucket size.
  • The application is running both versions simultaneously.
  • Small additional cost.
  • Additional batch is removed at the end of the deployment.
  • Longer deployment.
  • Good for production environments.

Immutable:

  • Launches new instances in a new ASG and deploys the version update to these instances before swapping traffic to these instances once healthy.
  • Zero downtime.
  • New code is deployed to new instances using an ASG.
  • High cost as double the number of instances running during updates.
  • Longest deployment.
  • Quick rollback in case of failures.
  • Great for production environments.

Additionally, Elastic Beanstalk supports blue/green deployment.

Blue / Green deployment:

  • This is not a feature within Elastic Beanstalk
  • You create a new “staging” environment and deploy updates there.
  • The new environment (green) can be validated independently and you can roll back if there are issues.
  • Route 53 can be set up using weighted policies to redirect a percentage of traffic to the staging environment.
  • Using Elastic Beanstalk, you can “swap URLs” when done with the environment test.
  • Zero downtime.

The following tables summarizes the different deployment policies:

Elastic Beanstalk Deployment Policies

Golden AMIs

When deploying code to Amazon EC2 using Beanstalk, Elastic Beanstalk must resolve application dependencies which can take a long time.

A golden AMI is a method of reducing this time by packaging all dependencies, configuration and software into the AMI before deploying.

Encryption in-transit

Elastic Beanstalk works with HTTPS:

  • Load the SSL certificate onto the load balancer.
  • Can be performed from the console or in code (.ebextensions/securelistener-alb.config).
  • SSL certificate can be provisioned using ACM or CLI.

For redirecting HTTP to HTTPS:

  • Configure in the application.
  • Configure the ALB with a rule.
  • Ensure health checks are not redirected.

Custom Domain Names

If you’re using AWS Elastic Beanstalk to deploy and manage applications in the AWS Cloud, you can use Amazon Route 53 to route DNS traffic for your domain, such as example.com, to a new or an existing Elastic Beanstalk environment.

You create either a CNAME record or an alias record, depending on whether the domain name for the environment includes the Region, such as us-east-2, in which you deployed the environment. New environments include the Region in the domain name; environments that were created before early 2016 do not.

If the domain name does NOT include the Region: create a CNAME record.

If the domain name DOES include the Region: create an Alias record.

Troubleshooting

If the environment health changes to RED:

  • Review environment events.
  • Check logs to view recent entries.
  • Roll back to a previous working version of the application.

When accessing external resources make sure the security groups are correctly configured.

If commands timeout, increase the deployment timeout.

High Availability

You can add high availability to Elastic Beanstalk environments by choosing the option in the console.

When adding high availability Elastic Beanstalk will deploy an Auto Scaling group with multiple EC2 instances and a load balancer.

There is also an option to deploy with high availability using Spot and On-Demand instances.

Monitoring and Reporting

Elastic Beanstalk automatically uses Amazon CloudWatch to help you monitor your application and environment status. You can navigate to the Amazon CloudWatch console to see your dashboard and get an overview of all of your resources as well as your alarms. You can also choose to view more metrics or add custom metrics.

Logging and Auditing

With CloudWatch Logs, you can monitor and archive your Elastic Beanstalk application, system, and custom log files from Amazon EC2 instances of your environments.

You can also configure alarms that make it easier for you to react to specific log stream events that your metric filters extract.

The CloudWatch Logs agent installed on each Amazon EC2 instance in your environment publishes metric data points to the CloudWatch service for each log group you configure.

Each log group applies its own filter patterns to determine what log stream events to send to CloudWatch as data points.

Log streams that belong to the same log group share the same retention, monitoring, and access control settings.

In addition to instance logs, if you enable enhanced health for your environment, you can configure the environment to stream health information to CloudWatch Logs.

Authorization and Access Control

AWS Elastic Beanstalk supports identity-based policies.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk does not support resource-based policies.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk has partial support for resource-level permissions.

When you create an environment, AWS Elastic Beanstalk prompts you to provide two AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles: a service role and an instance profile.

The service role is assumed by Elastic Beanstalk to use other AWS services on your behalf.

The instance profile is applied to the instances in your environment and allows them to retrieve application versions from Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), upload logs to Amazon S3, and perform other tasks that vary depending on the environment type and platform.

You can also create user policies and apply them to IAM users and groups in your account to allow users to create and manage Elastic Beanstalk applications and environments. Elastic Beanstalk provides managed policies for full access and read-only access.

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