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Top 3 tips for a more stable AWS environment

ACG Technical Editors Team
ACG Technical Editors Team

Having a stable environment for your cloud setup is very important. Fortunately, there are several tools and products that can help out. But where do you start? And which ones should you use? 

Well look no further! In this post I’ve pulled together my top three recommendations: making use of Auto Scaling groups for consistency, utilizing multiple Availability Zones for stability, and separating your production environment from your test environment by Region. I’m going to dive into each of these below, but before I do let’s take a look at the importance of stability.


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Why is stability important?

You might be asking yourself, “what’s the big deal with stability anyway?” That’s a fair question. Stability is important because it leads to consistency. And consistency is necessary for things like good customer experience, code development, and overall environmental health. Let’s take a quick look at each of those.

  • For customer experience, it means not having your websites randomly go down, or suffer from things like traffic overload and resource issues. 
  • With code development, a stable environment ensures that any issues that pop up from your code are just that – from your code and not an external environmental factor (which should be remaining consistent). 
  • Your overall environmental health can also benefit. With a stable and consistent environment, anomalies are much more noticeable, meaning you can catch issues as soon as they pop up. 

1. Auto Scaling groups for consistency

Let’s take a look at my first recommendation. Auto Scaling groups provide an automatic way for your environment to respond to unpredictable traffic trends. How do they do that? 

Auto Scaling works with CloudWatch to monitor the health of your servers. Whenever your server gets to a point where it is no longer healthy, it will take that server out of the group and build out a new server to replace it. This means you never have to worry about your environment going below a certain level of availability, even when a server is showing as less than healthy. 

This mechanism also allows your environment to scale up if necessary! For example, if you are having a big sale and expecting an influx of traffic, you can adjust the maximum threshold for your Auto Scaling groups to give you a larger amount of wiggle room if your traffic spikes. This flexibility is great as it allows your environment to remain stable and cost effective at the same time! 

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2. Multiple Availability Zones for stability

Something that works well with Auto Scaling groups, for your environmental stability, is having your environment backed up across multiple Availability Zones. Distributing  your resources in this way ensures that you’re covered if something happens. 

What could possibly happen? Let’s say you have all of your resources in the North Virginia Region in Availability Zone A, and suddenly there is an issue that means AZ A can’t connect to the internet. This can be a major problem if you have web servers, or an application, that requires the internet to access customer reports. Having all of your eggs in this one AZ A basket suddenly means that your website is now offline, and this could really impact your bottom line. But if you had set up your environment across multiple Availability Zones,  then all you would have to do is change one DNS record and get your resources back on track!

3. Separation of test and production environments by Region

The last tip I have is separating your production and testing environments into different Regions. Now a lot of you might be thinking “Why would you do that?”  Well, it’s because accidents happen.

If you have your test, or development, environment in the same Region as your production environment it can lead to accidental harm. For example, accidentally launching a code deployment that was meant to go into your test environment to your production environment. This could take anything from a few hours to a few days to fix, depending on what your backups look like. Overall it’s just a better plan to have these two environments separate to try and minimize the chances of things going awry.

I hope I’ve been able to make clear how stability is tied into your overall environmental health, and give you some useful tips on how to create a healthier environment. If you want to know more about some of the basics of AWS, my new course “An Overview of AWS” can help you on your first steps into the cloud!


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