AWS CloudFormation Overview

AWS CloudFormation is the #15 ranked solution in our list of top Configuration Management tools. It is most often compared to Ansible: AWS CloudFormation vs Ansible

What is AWS CloudFormation?

AWS CloudFormation provides a common language for you to model and provision AWS and third party application resources in your cloud environment. AWS CloudFormation allows you to use programming languages or a simple text file to model and provision, in an automated and secure manner, all the resources needed for your applications across all regions and accounts. This gives you a single source of truth for your AWS and third party resources.

AWS CloudFormation is also known as CloudFormation.

AWS CloudFormation Buyer's Guide

Download the AWS CloudFormation Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: January 2021

AWS CloudFormation Customers
Nextdoor, Coinbase, Expedia
AWS CloudFormation Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about AWS CloudFormation pricing:
  • "This solution is free to use and does not require a license."

AWS CloudFormation Reviews

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reviewer1303905
Infrastructure - Presales & Solution Consultant at a tech company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Mar 9, 2020
Templates help to get started quickly and the technical support is nice, but the interface is not intuitive

What is our primary use case?

We are a computer consulting company and AWS CloudFormation is one of the solutions that we provide to our customers. CloudFormation is definitely an integral part of AWS Native solutions. It is used for setting up your environment, such as your DNS structure. If something happens in your current environment, such as a disaster, then you can bring up the environment in another region by using the CloudFormation template. Essentially, it is a tool that is used for automating cloud deployment.

Pros and Cons

  • "There is a cost-benefit to using CloudFormation that comes about because of the automation that it provides."
  • "This tool is not intuitive and there are others that are easier to understand."

What other advice do I have?

When it comes to this solution, there are a lot of things that happen. New features can come out every week and down the line, there are a lot of new things that come very fast. Keeping up with the innovations or product services that are being introduced is a taxing job. CloudFormation is not used on a daily basis. It is only used for specific purposes whenever there is a requirement. You use it to set up a certain environment. My advice for anybody who is considering using this solution to implement their environment is to consider the complexity of what they want to do. If you want to bring…
reviewer1259031
Principal with 51-200 employees
Real User
Nov 11, 2020
A stable fallback Infrastructure Automation solution that would be nice to have beyond AWS

What is our primary use case?

We use it for deploying all the Infrastructure: VPCs, EC2 instances, storage solutions, most managed services. Providing IAM configuration, providing group account configurations, role management within IAM. CloudFormation is THE Infrastructure as Code (IaC) solution AWS recommends. Almost everything should, according to AWS, be automated and managed using CloudFormation - whenever possible. Within our organization, mostly the DevOps engineers use AWS CloudFormation — around 42 of them.

Pros and Cons

  • "The nested stacks would be one of the more valuable features."
  • "As soon as they manage to parametrize the whole thing and to implement parameters at all levels, it will become automatically a lot more flexible."

What other advice do I have?

There's probably a lot of people that are trying to work around it. Or, to avoid it. My advice would be: use it when Amazon says so because it's probably the most straightforward approach to your problem. Afterwards, then you can become creative, for it's worth putting in the effort. On a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of seven. That rating would, definitely, be higher if CloudFormation would be made available on other platforms, outside Amazon.
Learn what your peers think about AWS CloudFormation. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2021.
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reviewer1470954
Cloud Site Reliability Engineer and SecOps Lead at a wellness & fitness company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Jan 10, 2021
A stable solution with good ability to treat infrastructure's code and makes things automatable and reproducible

What is our primary use case?

CloudFormation drives most of our AWS configuration. It is the configuration engine for our whole footprint. Literally, everything that we configure in AWS is configured in CloudFormation. We are using its latest version.

Pros and Cons

  • "Its ability to treat infrastructure's code is valuable. It makes things automatable and reproducible."
  • "CloudFormation is not particularly good at handling cross-account dynamic references. If you try to refer to an object that CloudFormation has created in a separate AWS account, it tends to fall apart. That's because it is a byproduct of the multi-tenant configuration. This is the most glaring shortcoming in my perspective because you can't dynamically reference objects in other accounts that CloudFormation has created, but it is not a shortcoming that you can't overcome. This is the only pain point that I've come across that didn't have a workaround natively. Sometimes the confirmation is slow, and it could be faster. The downside to CloudFormation when you're fully embracing it is that the AWS services do not get released immediately fully CloudFormation enabled. If you need to use the latest AWS service that just got announced or reinvented, you're not going to be able to continue with CloudFormation for the first X number of months. This is because they develop the products separately, and then they hand it to the CloudFormation team, which later on develops a CloudFormation integration. So, if you need to be on the newest thing AWS has, CloudFormation is often going to be a constraint that prevents you from doing that."

What other advice do I have?

I would rate AWS CloudFormation an eight out of ten. It does what it is supposed to do, but there are certainly ways in which it could be extended, and there are certain ways using which it could be integrated earlier into their release cycle.
Sawab Ahmed
Consulting Systems Engineer (Presales) at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
MSP
Top 5
Mar 19, 2020
Excellent initial setup, good integration capabilities and very good time to market

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for creating automated blueprints for deploying machines, infrastructure as a service, and platform as a service.

Pros and Cons

  • "The integration of the solution is very good."
  • "The solution needs to offer better support to other cloud vendors."

What other advice do I have?

We are a solution provider and system integrator with AWS. We are also a solution provider with VMware. We don't personally use the solution. Instead, we deploy it for our customers. The companies we work with range from small companies to large enterprises. Our clients use the solution daily. I'd advise other organizations to definitely have an understanding of the AWS portfolio, and the product portfolio. It's also important to first understand the manual structure because it's basically automating manual tasks. It depends upon how repetitive those tasks are, because sometimes building a…
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Buyer's Guide
Download our free AWS CloudFormation Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.