What is AWS Elastic Beanstalk? What are the Benefits AWS Elastic Beanstalk?

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Last updated on
11th Mar, 2021
30th Aug, 2019
What is AWS Elastic Beanstalk? What are the Benefits AWS Elastic Beanstalk?

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a service from Amazon used to deploy and scale services and applications using servers like Nginx, Apache, IIS, and Passenger with programming languages like Python, Java, Ruby, .NET, Go, PHP, Docker, and Node.js. You just have to upload your code and all the deployment processes like capacity provisioning, auto-scaling, load balancing, and application monitoring will be automatically handled by Elastic Beanstalk. Also, you will have full access and control over the AWS resources that are powering your applications. Elastic Beanstalk is available for free. You will only have to pay for the resources you are using for storing and running your application. Here are some other benefits of using Elastic Beanstalk:

Benefits of AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Benefits of AWS Elastic Beanstalk

  • It is simple and fast

When it comes to deploying your application on AWS, Elastic Beanstalk is the simplest and fastest way to do so. All you need is the AWS Management Console, an integrated development environment (IDE) like Visual Studio, Eclipse, etc. or a Git repository for uploading your application. All the deployment details like load balancing, auto-scaling, capacity provisioning, and monitoring will be handled by Elastic Beanstalk. You don’t need any resource configuration or infrastructure from your part to make your application ready to use.

  • Increased productivity

Since all the provisions and operations regarding the infrastructure and managing the application are handled by the Elastic Beanstalk, you as the developer don’t have to waste your time or learn the skills. Elastic Beanstalk also regularly introduces patches and updates on your platform for keeping it up-to-date. So, instead of giving your time to manage and configure servers, networks, firewalls, databases, and load balancers, you can use this time focusing on writing code.

  • Auto Scaling

Based on what the specific needs of your application are, Elastic Beanstalk will automatically scale your application up and down. For this, it uses its Auto scaling settings that you can adjust to suit your needs. For example, Autoscaling actions can be triggered using CPU utilization metrics. Your application will be able to give peak performance and minimize costs in heavy traffic or workload with the help of Elastic Beanstalk.

  • Resource Control

For all the AWS resources like Amazon EC2 that are powering your application, you will have full control. This will help you take manual control of your application’s infrastructure if and whenever you desire to do so.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk Concepts
AWS Elastic Beanstalk Concepts

As discussed earlier, Elastic Beanstalk helps in managing all the resources that are being used as environments in running your application. Here are a few concepts that you must be aware of to work with AWS Elastic Beanstalk:

  • Application

It is a logical collection of components of Elastic Beanstalk like versions, environments, and environment configurations. You can consider the application as a folder in the Elastic Beanstalk.

  • Application Version

An application version in elastic beanstalk can be referred to as a labelled and specific iteration of a code that is deployed in a web application. It basically points to Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) containing the code that is to be deployed like a Java WAR file. It is a part of an application. Every application version is unique but an application can have many versions. After you have uploaded the application version to the application, you can deploy it any time in any running environment or you can just upload the new application version and deploy it immediately. Many developers often test the difference between different web applications’ version by uploading multiple application version.

  • Elastic Beanstalk Components

All the software components included in the Elastic Beanstalk that are added to the platform for enabling access to the functionalities of Elastic Beanstalk are termed as Elastic Beanstalk Components. For example, to gather and report health information, an enhanced health agent is required.

  • Environment

All the AWS resources that are used for running an application version are collectively termed as an environment. Only one application can be run in one environment at a time. However, different environments can be used for running the same or different application versions simultaneously. While creating a new environment, Elastic Beanstalk provides provisioning of the resources required for running the specified application version.

  • Environment Tier

The first step in launching an Elastic Beanstalk environment is selecting the environment tier. The environment tier is responsible for designating the application’s type that will be running the environment. It also decides what resources will be provisioned by the Elastic Beanstalk for supporting the environment. For example, a web server environment tier is required for running the application serving the HTTP requests. A worker environment tier is required for pulling tasks from an Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service) queue runs.

  • Environment Configuration

An environment configuration can be defined as the collection of settings and parameters that will be defining the behaviour of the environment and all the resources associated with it. Once you update the configuration settings of the environment, Elastic Beanstalk will be either deploying new resources according to the changes made or applying the changes to the existing resources automatically.

  • Managed updates

It is a feature of the Elastic Beanstalk that applies minor and patch updates to the runtime, application server, web server, and operating system. You can configure the settings to apply only minor or patch updates. You can even disable this completely.

  • Platform

A combination of the application server, web server, the runtime of programming language, operating system, and components of Elastic Beanstalk is termed as a Platform. This includes designing and targeting your web application to the platform. There are several platforms available on Elastic Beanstalk that you can use for building your applications.

  • Platform Version

It is a combination of specific versions of elastic beanstalk components, application server, web server, runtime, and operating system. A platform version is used for creating the Elastic beanstalk environment and then the application is deployed to it. The semantic version number of a platform version is in the form of X. Y. Z. Here X, Y, and Z are major, minor, and patch versions respectively.

  • Platform Update

When a new platform version is released, it includes some components of the platform. All the platform updates have to follow the below-mentioned multi-level, semantic versioning taxonomy:

  • Major update

This kind of update makes the components incompatible with the existing platform versions. You will have to make modifications to your platform and then run it on the new version. A new major platform version number accompanies a major update.

  • Minor update

In a minor update, functionality is added that makes the existing platform version backwards compatible. No new modifications are required to run the application correctly on the new minor version. There will be a new minor platform version number with the minor update.

  • Patch update

This kind of update includes maintenance releases like security updates, bug fixes, performance enhancements, etc. that makes existing platform version backwards compatible. There will be a new patch platform version number accompanied with the patch update.

  • Supported Platform version

If the platform version contains the versions of web server, application server, operating system, and runtime supported by the supplier, Elastic Beanstalk can provide you with supported platform versions for creating the environment.

  • Retired Platform Version

If the version of the application server, web server, runtime or the operating system has reached EOL (End of Line), they won’t be available in the Elastic Beanstalk environments to be used for existing or new customers.

  • Runtime

The runtime software including the libraries, framework, vm, interpreter, etc. are used for running the code of the application. The software is programming language specific.

  • Saved Configuration

A template that is used as a starting point to create different and unique environment configurations is known as a saved configuration. Depending on your needs, these saved configurations can be created or modified. Then, with the help of Elastic Beanstalk console, AWS CLI, EB CLI, or API, these saved configurations are applied to the environments. The saved configurations are referred to as the configuration template by the AWS CLI and the API.

Shared Responsibility Model for AWS Elastic Beanstalk Platform Maintenance

To achieve a high level of software component compliance and security, the responsibilities of the application are shared between the customers and the AWS. This helps in reducing the customer’s operational burden.

The managed updates feature of Elastic Beanstalk helps you in carrying out your responsibilities. It will automatically apply minor and patch updates to the supported platform version of the Elastic Beanstalk. Upon failure of a managed update, a notification will be sent to you so that you can take immediate action. 

Apart from managed updates, Elastic Beanstalk takes off your burden by performing the following tasks:

  • Publishing the retirement schedule for the upcoming year and its platform support policy.
  • All the new updates of the operating system, web server, application server, and runtime are available to the customer within 30 days. Updates to Elastic Beanstalk components present on the supported platform versions are created by Elastic Beanstalk. The other updates are provided by the supplier.

As a customer, you will be burdened with the following responsibilities:

  • Updating all the components controlled by you. This includes maintaining the security of your application, any components and the data required, downloaded and loaded by your application.
  • Make sure that supported platform versions are used for running the Elastic Beanstalk environments. If you find an environment that is running on a retired platform, you have to migrate it to a supported version.
  • If there are any failed attempts of managed updates, you have to retry the updates and resolve any issues that might come up.
  • If you haven’t opted for managed updated by the Elastic Beanstalk, you will also have to patch the runtime, OS, application server and web server. To do this, you can either try the manual application of the platform updates or patching the components to the environment resources directly.
  • If you are using any AWS service outside of Elastic Beanstalk, you will have to manage its compliance and security.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk Platform Support Policy

With Elastic Beanstalk come several platforms that you can use to run your application on the AWS platform. There are certain versions of a platform supported by Elastic Beanstalk that is going through minor patches and updates. When any component of a version of the supported platform like the runtime, operating system, web server or the application server is marked EOL (End of Life) by the supplier, it is marked as retired by the Elastic Beanstalk. No existing or new customers of Elastic Beanstalk will have access to these platforms' version for deploying in the new environments. Existing customers will have the retired platforms available to them in the existing environment for 90 days from the retirement date.

Because of the retired platform’s version’s component EOL marked by the supplier, Elastic Beanstalk can’t offer technical support, security updates, or hot-fixes. After the 90-day period is over, Elastic Beanstalk automatically removes the components and transfers the support and management responsibility of the application and the AWS resources to the user. You need to regularly update the Elastic Beanstalk environments to get security, functionality, and performance environments of the supported version of the platform.

The following platform components are marked as retired or are scheduled to retire in the upcoming 12 months:

  • Operating System
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 – 16th October, 2019 (Because of changes in Microsoft's licensing policy)
  • Web Server
    • Nginx 1.12.2 – 1st March, 2020
    • Apache HTTP Server 2.2 – 1st March, 2020
  • Runtime
    • Java 6 – 1st March, 2020
    • Go 1.3-1.10 – 1st March, 2020
    • GlassFish 4.x – 1st March, 2020
    • Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.4 – 1st March, 2020
    • PHP 5.4-5.6 - 1st March, 2020
    • PHP 7.0-7.1 – 1st March, 2020
    • Ruby 1.9.3 - 1st March, 2020
    • Ruby 2.0-2.3 - 1st March, 2020
    • Node.js 4.x-8.x – 1st March, 2020
  • Application server
    • Tomcat 6 - 1st March, 2020
    • Tomcat 8 - 1st March, 2020

I hope that you have a  clear understanding of Elastic Beanstalk and how Beanstalk can be used to deploy applications. 

Wishing that the blog turned out to be enriching and educative for you. Furthermore, if you aim at taking your Amazon Web Services knowledge to the next level, then feel free to enrol yourself for the AWS Certification Training course by KnowledgeHut.  


Joydip Kumar

Solution Architect

Joydip is passionate about building cloud-based applications and has been providing solutions to various multinational clients. Being a java programmer and an AWS certified cloud architect, he loves to design, develop, and integrate solutions. Amidst his busy work schedule, Joydip loves to spend time on writing blogs and contributing to the opensource community.