A Thousand Platforms ...

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Today’s AWS Elastic Beanstalk announcement of PHP and Git support reminded me of the post where I mentioned that we want to let a thousand platforms bloom on AWS. Some might ask why AWS would want a thousand platforms.

One of the most important AWS principles is flexibility. Flexibility is in the choice of software and languages running on AWS, in the tools and interfaces available to manipulate resources and applications, and in the ability to leverage services from other providers. One of our customers I met last week was talking about his application and how it runs on AWS; He collects geo-location data, analyzes and crunches this data using Elastic Map Reduce, stores the data for quick access in DynamoDB, runs his user interface on Heroku and his web services layer for mobile devices on Elastic Beanstalk. This application is a great way to highlight how developers might leverage different services, abstractions, and tools to deliver the most value to their customers.

If you’re seeking ultimate flexibility, AWS allows you to interact with services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) directly and to piece these services together in a building block fashion. This might incur some initial groundwork, especially if you just want to deploy a simple application. AWS CloudFormation can help bring the building blocks together through its template mechanism. This simplifies the provisioning and updates, but you’re still responsible for the operational aspects of running your application.

If you don’t need control over the software stack, you can use development platforms such as AppFog, Engine Yard, and Heroku to help you manage, deploy, and monitor your applications on AWS more easily. We’ve seen some newcomers in this space over the last year such as Stackato and NodeJitsu, and each platform continues to add value through highly curated software stacks and a set of management automation.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is another abstraction on top of the core AWS building blocks. It takes a different approach than most other development platforms by exposing the underlying resources. This approach provides the simplicity to quickly get started for application developers, but it also allows them to modify the stack to meet their goals. For example, one customer needed extensive Apache rewrite rules and a few other mods to meet his security requirements. He simply created a new AMI to use as his base for his Elastic Beanstalk container. Another pattern I have seen is customers attaching a debugger to the JVM running in their EC2 instance so that they can debug particular interaction patterns between their code and the JVM.

So is there a “one-size-fits-all” in the development platform space? No, each platform fits the needs of different developers, applications, and use cases. Preference and familiarity also play a role in why some developers choose one over the other. Ultimately, we want developers to successfully run and manage reliable, highly scalable applications on AWS, irrespective of the abstraction that their development platform of choice offers.

We will continue to work closely together with all current and future platform partners. Based on their feedback, we will develop new features and services that can help them be more successful by allowing them to focus on their customers instead of the infrastructure on which they run. This will also make it easier for new platforms to be developed such that developers will have more choice and flexibility, and they can really find the exact tools that make them most productive. AWS Elastic Beanstalk can play an important role there, too, because it is a good base for building new platforms. We are looking forward to seeing a thousand platforms bloom.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk now supports PHP applications (in addition to Java) and the ability to deploy through the popular Git version control system. To get started using PHP and Git on AWS Elastic Beanstalk, visit Deploying PHP Applications Using Git in the AWS Elastic Beanstalk Developer Guide. More details about the release at the AWS developer blog.