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Need help with organizing CloudFormation templates and integration with CI/CD

aleks123 profile image AlekS ・2 min read

Hi guys,

I’m working on complex infrastructure setup and I need your opinion on how you organize the CloudFormation templates and integration with CI/CD.

The project is for an insurance company. We’ve set up the infrastructure on AWS. Architecture is rather complex, using VPC, EC2, LBs, EKS, RDS, Lambdas etc. services all inter-connected.

Current setup:

  • The entire infrastructure is described with CloudFormation templates
  • Templates are stored and versioned on GitHub, each piece of infrastructure (usually one CloudFormation template) has its own git repository
  • We have a set of bash scripts that we use to apply templates using CloudFormation CLI
  • Bash scripts also use configuration files (configs for each environment), also stored in git in a separate repository, which are used as input parameters for different CFN templates
  • Scripts are currently executed with Jenkins, with a separate job for each piece of infrastructure

The problem:

  • Whenever I need to add a new piece of infrastructure I have to create a new git repo, update the config file, configure a new job in Jenkins
  • Maintaining Jenkins is yet another problem
  • Sharing and distributing among multiple teams and projects is hard, ending up with me being the one who initially sets up and maintains the infrastructure in all projects
  • The CI/CD process is not easy to distribute within and out of my team, because of too many implementation details
  • With the number of CFN templates, it’s becoming a mess

Recreating the infrastructure in one transaction would save a lot of time. For this, I was looking at using CloudFormation nested stacks. Each nested stack would be one piece of my infrastructure.

If you’ve had the same or similar problem, how did you managed to resolve it? What tools and structure are you currently using?

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Discussion

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Cloudformation is a pain at scale because they dont offer a good solution to break up your template in components or modules. The includes function that relies on S3 is just poor workflow and it doesn't solve the problem either.

My recommendation is Terraform and optionally in combination with Terragrunt for the simple reason it supports the break down of your infrastructure into modules, it can handle multiple environment deployments, it manages state and you can share that state with multiple DevOps people and work on it simultaneously.

It promotes reusable and DRY IaC templates and actually reduce time spend on configuration and maintaining the configuraiton codebase.

Terraform can setup your github, your CI/CD pipelines on AWS or on Azure or on Google Cloud. It's service agnostic and it combines them all in one workflow.

perhaps this example on medium can show you what I mean, i quickly googled it:
medium.com/@I_M_Harsh/build-and-de...

 

I will try this, thanks a lot!