Cloudy with a chance of formation

By Renata Rocha

Elevator Pitch

CloudFormation promises a lot, and here we are, trying to see how many clouds it actually forms. Don’t feel under the weather the next time you have to deal with it - understand what it does, what it does not and be ready to make it rain on your next project!


IaC offers DevOps folks a way to model, manage and provision their infrastructure. AWS introduced CloudFormation in 2010 - 10 years ago - and it was one of the first players in the IaC game, and being released by AWS it was supposed to be the first-line choice for anyone who runs their cloud on Amazon. But we all know that is not the reality. CloudFormation never delivered, and the niche of IaC was taken over by a competitor (cough cough Terraform).

On this talk, I will glance over my experience with CloudFormation many years ago, right after it was launched, and the state of CloudFormation as of today. My personal experience with AWS regarding the capabilities of CloudFormation is also a point that I will be covering. A quick intro will describe template structure and how it works.

Next, I will give my opinion on it, based on my experience. What I like about it, and what I don’t.

I intend to present the talk inviting the audience to participate - I will show slides with a few actions to be performed within the AWS environment and ask true or false statements “Can you do this with CloudFormation?”, followed by a slide with the solution ( yes if you can, or no - either use Lambda/Terraform), leading the audience to understand the point by actual examples. If I can, I will try to find buttons that make loud noises for either yes or no answers to make it more… fun. I can make it even worse: make a drinking game and I have a shot for every “CloudFormation doesn’t do it”. Oops. No, that’s a bad idea. Let’s keep it with buttons.

For the audience, the takeaway will be: if you choose CloudFormation as your IaC, be aware of its limitations and the perspective of how to integrate it with other Amazon products (probably with Lambda). Lots of Lambda on your horizon. I do like Lambdas, but that’s another conference… ;)


Technical Reqs: things to plug in my laptop. Those buttons if you can find them, but I can probably get them on Amazon myself. - like these? I’m not doing a drinking game, I promise.