AWS Elastic Beanstalk vs CloudFormation: When to Use Each

 AWS Elastic Beanstalk vs CloudFormation: When to Use Each. AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS CloudFormation are both popular AWS services for deploying and managing applications in the cloud. However, they have different approaches and are suited for different use cases.

In this guide, we’ll compare two popular AWS services: Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. We’ll discuss their features, pricing, security, and scalability, and provide examples to help you understand the trade-offs between the two options.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Beanstalk Overview

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a fully managed service that simplifies the deployment, management, and scaling of applications. It supports various programming languages and platforms, such as Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, and Docker. Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment, capacity provisioning, load balancing, and application health monitoring. It’s much simpler and easier to use than CloudFormation.

Beanstalk Pricing

Elastic Beanstalk itself is free to use. You only pay for the underlying AWS resources (such as EC2 instances, RDS instances, and load balancers) that your application consumes.

Beanstalk Security

Elastic Beanstalk provides several security features, such as:

  • identity and Access Management (IAM) roles for instances and environment resources
  • security groups to control inbound and outbound traffic
  • SSL/TLS support for secure communication
  • integration with AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) to protect against common web exploits

Beanstalk Scalability

Elastic Beanstalk supports both vertical and horizontal scaling. You can configure auto-scaling rules based on CloudWatch metrics, such as CPU utilization or network traffic, to automatically adjust the number of instances in your environment.

Beanstalk Example

These are the steps for deploying a Python application using Elastic Beanstalk:

Install the AWS CLI and Elastic Beanstalk CLI.

Create a new directory for your application and navigate to it.

Create a file named with the following content:

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)</code>

def hello():
return "Hello, Elastic Beanstalk!"

if __name__ == '__main__':

Create a file named requirements.txt with the following content:


Initialize the Elastic Beanstalk environment:

eb init -p python-3.7 my-app

Create and deploy the environment:

eb create my-env

Open the application in your browser:

eb open

AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation Overview

AWS CloudFormation is a service that allows you to model and provision AWS resources using templates written in JSON or YAML. It enables you to manage and update your infrastructure as code, automate the provisioning process, and track changes to your resources.

CloudFormation Pricing

CloudFormation is free to use for creating and managing stacks. You only pay for the underlying AWS resources that your stack consumes.

CloudFormation Security

CloudFormation provides several security features, such as:

  • IAM roles and policies to control access to your stacks and resources
  • support for AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to encrypt sensitive data
  • integration with AWS Config to monitor and audit resource changes

CloudFormation Scalability

CloudFormation supports the creation and management of large-scale infrastructure, including multi-region and multi-account deployments. You can use nested stacks to modularize and reuse templates, and AWS StackSets to deploy stacks across multiple accounts and regions.

An Example of CloudFormation Deployment with Python

Here are the steps for deploying a Python application using CloudFormation:

Install the AWS CLI.

Create a new directory for your application and navigate to it.

Create a file named template.yaml with the following content:

Type: 'AWS::S3::Bucket'
AccessControl: PublicRead
IndexDocument: index.html
ErrorDocument: error.html

Create and deploy the stack:

aws cloudformation create-stack --stack-name my-stack --template-body file://template.yaml

Monitor the stack creation progress:

aws cloudformation describe-stacks --stack-name my-stack

A Beanstalk and CloudFormation Comparison

Elastic Beanstalk is a higher-level service that simplifies application deployment and management, while CloudFormation is a lower-level service that provides more control over resource provisioning and configuration.

Elastic Beanstalk is suitable for developers who want to focus on writing code and let AWS handle the infrastructure management, whereas CloudFormation is more suitable for infrastructure and operations teams who want to manage and automate their infrastructure as code.

Elastic Beanstalk provides built-in support for application deployment, scaling, and monitoring, while CloudFormation requires you to define these features in your templates or use additional AWS services.

Elastic Beanstalk supports a limited set of languages and platforms, while CloudFormation can be used to provision any AWS resource, making it more flexible and versatile.

Both services provide security features, such as IAM roles and policies, but CloudFormation offers additional integrations with AWS Config and KMS for monitoring and encryption.

Elastic Beanstalk supports auto-scaling based on CloudWatch metrics, while CloudFormation requires you to configure auto-scaling groups and policies in your templates.

Both are free to use, and you only pay for the underlying AWS resources that your application or stack consumes.


In summary, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation are both powerful services that cater to different use cases and requirements. Elastic Beanstalk is ideal for developers who want a simple, managed solution for deploying and scaling their applications, while CloudFormation is better suited for infrastructure and operations teams who need more control and flexibility in managing their AWS resources.

When choosing between the two services, consider your team’s expertise, the complexity of your infrastructure, and your requirements for automation, scalability, and security. By understanding the trade-offs between Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation, you can make an informed decision and select the best service for your needs.

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AWS Elastic Beanstalk vs CloudFormation: When to Use Each
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