It Just OpsWorks

With OpsWorks, AWS aims for Heroku’s lunch

Amazon has taken its next major steps into the world of PaaS hosting with the launch of OpWorks, a free application management service that runs over the top of its existing AWS products.

The service is advertised as an “integrated experience for managing the complete application lifecycle”, allowing users to “provision AWS resources, manage their configuration, deploy applications to those resources, and monitor their health”.

Application stacks are visualised as ‘layers’, which can each be quickly configured with standard technologies of choice, including PHP, Rails and MySQL servers and HAProxy as a load balancer. Applications are uploaded from a Git repository, and Chef recipes can be set to trigger with certain ‘lifecycle events’, such as deploying or shutting down instances.

It’s far from the first time Amazon has attempted to simplify AWS’ notoriously complex interface: having begun exclusively as a command-line API, it now features a customisable dashboard, and Elastic Beanstalk, launched just over two years ago, provides an abstracted interface for deploying applications on AWS.

However, OpWorks is more of a power tool for managing applications, designed for IT admins with large and complex infrastructures. Scaling in particular is highly simplified, and can be automated based on time and load - unsurprising, considering that it was originally developed under the name Scalarium until the acquisition of Berlin-based startup Peritor.

While the service has a few quirks that need ironing out - some have questioned the choice of Chef over Puppet, for instance - it’s a solid base on which Amazon can now build. The dozens of PaaS providers that have sprung up over the past few years may be about to have their party crashed by a tough new competitor.

Elliot Bentley

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