Amazon OpsWorks: Empowering and Disrupting


This week Amazon Web Services got the attention of the cloud computing community with its announcement of OpsWorks, which provides new configuration and automation features for applications housed on AWS.  “With AWS OpsWorks, you can deploy your applications to 1,000s of Amazon EC2 instances with the same effort as a single instance,” the company notes. OpsWorks is based on technology AWS acquired last year from Peritor, the creators of Scalarium.

OpsWorks is free and allows AWS customers to use Chef Recipes to make system-level configuration changes and to install tools, utilities, libraries, and application code on the EC2 instance within an application. While providing a powerful new tool for developers, Amazon’s introduction of OpsWorks has also left many observers wondering how it will impact companies that offer configuration and management tools for AWS.

There has been much discussion of OpsWorks. Here’s a look at the notable analysis and commentary from around the web:

All Things Distributed – The AWS view from Amazon CTO Werner Vogels: “Application management has traditionally been complex and time consuming because developers have had to choose among different types of application management options that limited flexibility, reduced control, or required time to develop custom tooling. Designed to simplify processes across the entire application lifecycle, OpsWorks eliminates these challenges by providing an end-to-end flexible, automated solution that provides more operational control over applications.”

GigaOm Cloud – Barb Darrow writes: “The addition of OpsWorks to the AWS repertoire shows how Amazon is serious about adding higher-level and more intricate services to its stack as it hopes to lure more enterprise accounts. Those additions can be a double edged sword — they add functionality that many customers want but are getting from open-source and third-party toolsets. What’s good for AWS and some of its customers is definitely not a plus for some AWS partners.”

The Register – Jack Clark assesses OpsWorks’ impact on the AWS ecosystem: “The rollout of the technology is likely to make life uncomfortable for existing AWS partners, such as automation specialist Puppet, platform-as-a-service AppHarbor, and application management specialist Progress Software, among others. Developers now have a choice between doing it all through Amazon, or adding in another vendor’s tech – and therefore another layer of complication – to their particular cloud recipe. It also affects Amazon competitors such as Rightscale, a company whose main business involves the management and automation of public and private clouds.” – Whare OpsWorks fits: “OpsWorks will be offered alongside existing management offerings Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. While Elastic Beanstalk is specifically optimized for the most common Web applications and application middleware, OpsWorks can be used with anything from simple Web applications to highly complex applications. CloudFormation focuses on providing foundational management capabilities without prescribing a particular model for development and operations. ”

Hacker News – This discussion thread is wide-ranging, but notes that OpsWorks doesn’t integrate with many other AWS services.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.