AWS introduces Beanstalk for developer-friendly cloud

The free Elastic Beanstalk tool aims to help lighten the load for developers when it comes to day-to-day maintenance and deployment of applications in Amazon's cloud
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Amazon Web Services has introduced Elastic Beanstalk, a developer tool that promises to simplify the process of uploading applications into its cloud-computing service.

In addition, the tool automates load balancing and scaling once the application is live, Amazon Web Services (AWS) said on Wednesday. Offered free of charge, it is aimed at developers who have built an application, but do not want or have the resources to deal with standard day-to-day maintenance in the cloud.

"Elastic Beanstalk makes it easy for developers to deploy and manage scalable and fault-tolerant applications on the AWS cloud," the company's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, said in a blog post.

He added that the technology automatically creates the AWS resources and application stack needed to run the application, freeing developers from having to worry about server capacity, load balancing, scaling their application and version control.

"Making things 'just work' with very simple principles, without any configuration, is an absolute win," said developer Paul Campbell, whose applications run on AWS infrastructure via Engine Yard. "AWS is a bit of a rabbit hole sometimes, with their proprietary names for things and their very clinical approach."

AWS competition

Elastic Beanstalk will heighten AWS's competition with Google App Engine, Google's cloud platform-as-a-service product. Google App Engine supports programs written in Python and Java and, like AWS with the Elastic Beanstalk addition, automates scaling and other maintenance tasks.

Making things 'just work' with very simple principles, without any configuration, is an absolute win.
– Paul Campbell, developer

In addition, the Elastic Beanstalk service bears resemblance to existing platforms such as Heroku, which helps Ruby-on-Rails developers manage application development on cloud platforms, as well as to Engine Yard, CloudFoundry and Acquia.

"Heroku is a similar service that did this for [Ruby on Rails] developers early on. It was revolutionary. Taking away all server admin and allowing developers to focus completely on app development was game-changing," Campbell said.

Developers can upload to the AWS cloud via Elastic Beanstalk by writing an application in Java code, compiling and packaging the code into a WAR (Web Application Archive) file, then uploading that into a Tomcat environment.

Elastic Beanstalk is compatible with Amazon's free usage tier, which was announced in October, Amazon said.

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