Why do we automate?

  • time
  • security
  • consistency
  • Cloudformation – infrastructure as code.
  • Elastic Beanstalk – scaling web applications and services developed with a variety of supported languages
  • Systems Manager – gives you the ability to patch, update, manage, and configure your EC2 instances along with on-premise architecture

Lazy is a good thing – whenever possible, select an answer that doesn’t include manual steps. You’ll need to know the right tool for the job. Allows you to create and destroy your architecture as needed.


parameters – variables defined when the Cloudformation stack designer needs input from the user when configuring stack options.

mappings – things that fill themselves in

resources – where all of the resources go and are defined. instances, networks, databases, everything you’re trying to build out

Common exam question: use mappings section of cloudformation template when facing regional issues.

hard-coded resource IDs such as AMIs can cause templates in other regions to fail. If they are put in a mapping section, it can help mitigate.

CloudFormation won’t leave with you with broken architecture, if it fails during creation, it will roll back to the last clean state.

Elastic Beanstalk

What is PaaS? What elastic beanstalk does

brings up EC2 instances with code installed. If the exam is talking about speed, ease of use, but not do much work – use elastic beanstalk. Bring your own code/application, beanstalk does the rest of the lifting for you.

Supports containers, windows, linux applications.

Great to start with, but long term its for simpler web applications. It’s not serverless, beanstalk is managing standard EC2 architecture.

Systems Manager

What is Systems Manager? A collection of tools to manage AWS and on-premises resources. Free set of tools AWS has given to make things easier.

Automation Documents: Can be used to control your instances or AWS Resources (officially known as Runbooks). Run commands on your hosts to see if the commands effective ran. Patch Manager – manages your application versions (e.g. windows update). Parameter Store – where you can store your secret values that you should not be hardcoding. Hybrid Activations – control your premises architecture using Systems Manager. Session Manager – remotely connect and interact with your architecture.

Systems Manager installed on host necessary.

The parts are bigger than the whole – parameter store, automation documents, session store are more important than systems manager.

Consider systems manager an unpaid sysadmin. If an admin can do it, systems manager can as well.

Automation Exam Tips

4 questions to ask in the exam

  • can you automate?
  • what kind of automation works in this scenario?
  • is the automation repeatable?
  • How would this work cross-region or cross-account?

Understand CloudFormation sections. While you don’t need to be a coding expert, you need to generally know what the parameters, mappings, and resource sections of the CloudFormation templates do.

Immutable architecture is preferable. Throwing away webservers, backend servers, hosting data in s3 or efs, and persisting the data.

Mappings and Parameter Store – can bee useful to help make your templates more flexible. CloudFormation can be looked up to Parameter Store, as long as we are never hardcoding into resources section.

Elastic Beanstalk is a one-stop shop for all things AWS. Excels in building out a webserver.

If we hear SQS queues, lambda functions – think cloudformation.

Automation documents are the primary method used in scenarios asking you to configure the inside of an EC2 instance.

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