3 Tools to Start Deploying Your Amazon Web Services Infrastructure
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When we work in AWS, we tend to create, delete, and manage resources sporadically. We know that we would be much better off in the long run if we carefully tracked all of our resources. We could more easily manage and evaluate these resources with greater accuracy and less effort. We would have stronger governance, auditing, and tracking of notifications.
There is good news. AWS Config takes care of this tedious work for us. AWS Config provides a detailed inventory of the AWS resources and their current configuration while continuously recording changes. This helps in evaluating these configurations and changes for compliance with ideal configurations defined by AWS Config Rules.
AWS Config offers AWS defined, pre-built templates and config rules along with user-defined customized rules. The account owner is immediately notified via Amazon SNS about all changes to the resources.
This AWS Config rule is currently only available in AWS N. Virginia region for now, but AWS Config as a service is available in all the regions.
AWS Config does the following:
The supported resources for AWS Config are:
|AWS Services||Service Components|
|Amazon EC2||EC2 Instance|
EC2 Network Interface
EC2 Security Group
EC2 Elastic IP (VPC only)
EC2 Dedicated Hosts
|Amazon VPC||Customer Gateway|
|Amazon EBS||General Purpose (SSD) Volume|
Provisioned IOPS (SSD) Volume
|AWS IAM||IAM User|
IAM Managed Policy (Customer-managed only)
Below are some of the terms and concepts associated with AWS Config and some AWS Config Rules. AWS Config rules is an efficient mechanism powered by AWS Lambda functions, which make the governance of AWS resources more efficient.
When users set AWS Config rules, AWS Config evaluates the resources periodically, or in response to configuration changes. Each rule is associated with an AWS Lambda function that contains the evaluation logic for the rule.
When AWS Config evaluates the supported resources, it invokes the rule’s AWS Lambda function. The function returns the compliance status of the evaluated resources. If a resource violates the conditions of a rule, AWS Config flags the resource and the rule as noncompliant. When the compliance status of resource changes, AWS Config sends a notification to the owner’s Amazon SNS topic.
When AWS Config is active, it sends updated configuration details to a specified S3 bucket. It sends configuration history in JSON format files for each tracked AWS resource every six hours if any changes are detected to the specified AWS resource. This means there will be a configuration history file for EC2, one for IAM or one for EBS volumes. It also sends a configuration snapshot file (also a JSON format file) to the specified AWS S3 bucket, when either deliver-config-snapshot CLI command is issued or a DeliverConfigSnapshot API is called.
With this information at hand, let’s get started with AWS Config using the AWS Console. We can use any region, but using N. Virginia offers the special privilege of experiencing AWS Config rules which promised are an exciting new feature.
Compare the two dashboards shown below. When you use the N.Virginia region, your AWS Config dashboard will look like this:
Currently, in all other regions such as Ireland (eu-west-1), the dashboard will be like the one shown below:
The main difference are the Customizable Rules in N. Virginia. Keeping Ireland as our control region, let’s get started.
In the Set Up AWS Config page, you have the following options.
4. In the next page, select Resources and click Look Up to view the resources. Here we have chosen IAM User Group.
5. Clicking on one resource will take you to the timeline page where you can see when the configuration items are recorded. If this is the first time, you can start from today.
6. Trying to access from an earlier date, before recording was turned ON, shows an error message like this:
7. Once the above necessary steps are taken, select SNS service from the Services menu and go to the SNS home page. From Topics, select the topic we just created, page i.e. “config-test-topic-18dec2015,” select & copy the ARN of the topic.
8. Select the Subscription menu, click on Create Subscription.
9. Once this is done, you are requested to confirm subscription from an email sent to the email address you provided. You must confirm the request to receive email notifications.
10. Go to the AWS IAM service page, select the IAM role you created and click it. Click on the Attach Policy button, and attach AWSConfigRole.
11. Now add a User to the Group you have been tracking. In our example above, we were tracking an IAM Group named EC2User. We added a new user to the group. We got a message and the change is reflected in our timeline page.
12. The email message looks like this:
This is a small example of how AWS Config is set and used to track AWS Resources. We will discuss more on Config Rules available in North Virginia and go through an example in the second part of this topic. If you want to review additional resources, Nitheesh Poojary published an excellent article about a year ago, AWS VPC configuration: 5 kick-yourself mistakes.
I hope you are gaining practical knowledge from this post. The steps are many and my hope is that I have made the reasons for using different features clear and simple. Please provide comments and feedback on this post below and I’ll incorporate them into the second related post on this topic.
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