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Elastic Beanstalk

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Elastic Beanstalk, 9781449306649 (1449306640), O'Reilly, 2011

Thank you for picking up a copy of this book. Amazon Elastic Beanstalk is one of Amazon AWS’s services. It offers a platform for easy deployment of web applications. The first version of Elastic Beanstalk handles Java applications running in a Tomcat container. Deploying an application has been made as easy as uploading your WAR to your Application Environment.

Elastic Beanstalk is difficult, and barely understood. But it has been a huge hit with the media following cloud trends. We have seen headlines shouting that Amazon AWS was “in the PaaS business,” taking on Heroku and Google App Engine. These comparisons are not so interesting, except that they show that expectations are high. There is the idea that the cloud will end all problems, including building and especially deploying applications to large-scale infrastructures.

There is a huge gap between developing web applications in Java and running them on AWS infrastructures that can handle huge traffic. This gap contains things like installing Linux, configuring Tomcat, etc. But it also includes many AWS services, like EC2, Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, and S3. Elastic Beanstalk tries to hide these details, but it allows you to take over at any level, whenever you require. In a way, it tries to provide an “easy entrance” to AWS. So, the task at hand is to explain something that has been intentionally left out, because it is often a source of frustration.

We very recently finished our first book, Programming Amazon EC2. Just before the deadline for that book, Elastic Beanstalk was introduced. We wrote about it briefly, without getting into much detail. But Elastic Beanstalk was the logical next topic to address. We also had plans to build a Scala application called heystaq then, and we decided to use Elastic Beanstalk to deploy it. That became our first real experience with Beanstalk.

The authors of the book have been working together in different ways. We were drawn together to build a prototype of heystaq. We participated in an AWS Hackathon in Amsterdam in April 2011 to create something cool.

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