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Amazon Web Services Reaches Out To Developers

Amazon Web Services this week took a significant step forward in making it easier for developers to deploy its apps to the company's widely used cloud services.

Elastic Beanstalk is Amazon's new service designed to simplify the deployment of apps to its core services such as EC2 and S3. According to the company, Elastic Beanstalk makes it easier for developers to provision and manage their apps in Amazon's cloud services, by automatically handling such deployment matters as capacity planning, load balancing, scaling, and monitoring the health of applications.

"Perhaps I'm biased, but I do think this is a pretty big deal," said Amazon Web Services evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. "We've managed to balance power and ease of use in a nice tidy package that will make AWS even more approachable for developers wishing to build powerful and highly scalable Web applications."

While providing automation for developers, they maintain control over the Amazon Web Services resources running their apps, the company said. Amazon is offering Elastic Beanstalk free of charge; they pay only for cloud resources running their apps. Especially appealing is that developers aren't required to understand the innards of Amazon Web Services.

"It provides a more flexible way for users to try and buy AWS in a scalable fashion," said Thinkstrategies analyst Jeffrey Kaplan.

"When you use Elastic Beanstalk, you get to focus on the more creative and enjoyable aspects of application design and development while we take care of your software stack and your infrastructure," Barr noted. "We do this in a very flexible way so that you still have complete control of what goes on. You can still access the underlying AWS resources if you'd like."

Elastic Beanstalk is initially targeted at Java developers, though Amazon said it will support other programming languages in the future. Developers upload their apps to Elastic Beanstalk via the AWS Management Console or the AWS Toolkit for Eclipse. They can also use command line tools or the API, Amazon said. Within minutes of deploying the app, it can be accessed via a URL. From there, Elastic Beanstalk automatically monitors the health of apps as well as the performance of the Amazon EC2 instance.

"The public beta release of AWS Elastic Beanstalk allows you to write Java code, compile it, package it up into a WAR (web archive) file, and upload it to a Tomcat environment. You can do the upload using a new tab on the AWS Management Console," Barr noted.

Via the Elastic Beanstalk management console, developers can select the appropriate EC2 instance type that is in line with the CPU and memory requirements of the app, choose from the available database and storage options, login to EC2 instances to directly troubleshoot an app, access Amazon's CloudWatch monitoring tool and run other app components, Amazon said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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