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Amazon AWS (news, site) can be a tricky beast to track, but the company has announced a service to monitor resources and provisioning.

Facts From the Clouds

AWS CloudFormation is a free tool (via a quick sign-up and configuration process) from Amazon that gives developers and systems administrators a better solution for handling AWS resources and provisioning. Using a template-based approach, developers can use their own, or premade templates to list and describe the AWS resources along with associated dependencies or runtime parameters -- such as usernames, passwords, port numbers and Amazon EC2 instances -- required to run the application.

The template is then fed into the management console through CloudFormation's CLI or an API, deploying the resources needed. This works without the user having to establish a provisioning running order or wading through dependencies. CloudFormation takes care of all those niggles. It also comes with a set of pre-generated samples for a range of open source apps -- including WordPressMoveable Type, and Joomla

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Amazon's CloudFormation Console
 

Taking Stack of Your Resources

CloudFormation supports most AWS services with Amazon EC2 Instances, Elastic Block Store Volumes, Elastic Load Balancers, Elastic IP addresses, relational database service instances and security groups and others all on-board.

Templates can be used repeatedly to create copies of the same "stack" or to tweak into new ones. Depending on your enterprises' usage, stacks can be changed to use different settings for regional offices or make refinements for efficiency. The templates use JSON format, so are easy to work with.

On the admin side, CloudFormation has a progress notification system that can send email to monitor what is happening. If there is a problem, a stack can be cleaned up. Amazon has set up a getting started guide that can hand-hold anyone through the process of setting up this service.