CloudFormation StackSets: automated cross-account/region deployments

Yesterday, AWS released CloudFormation StackSets. A StackSet is a set of CloudFormation stacks that can easily be deployed to multiple AWS accounts and/or multiple AWS regions. Before, each stack had to be deployed separately and custom scripts were required to orchestrate deploying to multiple accounts/regions. Therefore, this feature is bound to make the lives of AWS administrators a bit easier. There are loads of use cases for deploying stacks to multiple locations.

Integrating ReactJS with the Google Maps widget

ReactJS is a Javascript library for building user interfaces. The way it ties in with HTML makes it very easy to create interactive components that can easily be reused among different locations within your application. Typically, people build Single Page Applications (SPA) using React. This way, much of the logic required to display a webpage is brought to the visitors’ browser. Instead of HTML, the web server often returns JSON and React grabs this to build the HTML within the browser.

Use Infrastructure as Code for automated security in the deployment pipeline

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a very powerful concept. The idea is that you put all infrastructure resources - networks, subnets, load balancers, firewalls and so on - in code. You then deploy your infrastructure the same way application developers deploy their code: through a continuous integration / continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. Other benefits already reaped by application developers that become available are code linting, automated testing and an audit trail of your changes if combined with a version control system.

Building a serverless website in AWS

Maintaining a web server for your website is not ideal. It’s tedious, takes a lot of time if done properly and distracts from what you really want to do: sell a product, share information, e.t.c. The more time and money you spend on the platform, the less is available to spend on the website and your core business. Unless you’re a hosting company of course, but then this blog post isn’t really for you.

Dynamic image generation with AWS API Gateway and Lambda

The combination of API Gateway and Lambda is very powerful. It allows you to build some complex functionalities without maintaining any virtual machines yourself. Lambda can be hooked up to many other (AWS) Services including DynamoDB, Kinesis and S3. This paradigm, better known as serverless, is truly upcoming for years now and its certainly time to jump on the bandwagon if you haven’t done so already. One of the better-known use cases of AWS Lambda is the generation of thumbnail images as images are inserted into S3.

Getting started with AWS Cognito

Did you ever write your own authentication service? In essence it’s quite trivial: allow a user to enter a username and a password. Next, look in a database for a row/document that matches the received data. If found, login. If not, be gone. It becomes harder when you start thinking more about proper security. And what about features such as password resets, login throttling or logins with Google/Facebook? Surely a managed service must exist that can make all this much easier for us.

Securing your server's SSH configuration

Are your SSH log files flooding with failing login attempts? I’ve seen many questions on websites such as Stackoverflow and Stackexchange from worried people that someone is actively targeting their servers with brute-force password logins attempts. Let me get one thing straight first: you are not special! It’s part of internet life: many botnets constantly attempt to login to servers. These can be random IP addresses or known ranges such as Amazon AWS EC2 instances or DigitalOcean droplets.

Get insight into your server with Datadog

{{ .TableOfContents }} I have been running my blog for a few months now on a DigitalOcean droplet. Apart from the few metrics DigitalOcean provides, I never really had any insight into how my server is performing. This includes metrics like CPU and Memory, but also metrics from the applications I run to host my blog, in particular Nginx, php-fpm and MySQL. To get more insight into these metrics, I decided to install the Datadog agent on my server.

Integration tests with Travis CI

Do you write integration tests? What about unit tests? I believe that more people say “Yes” to the second question than to the first. Which is kinda weird - for many applications, it really isn’t that hard to write integration tests. It might not even be necessary to setup your own infrastructure to run these tests. Many CI tools these days allow you to install databases, queues and such on their build agents.

Using Let's Encrypt for free automated SSL certificates

If you maintain your own server or servers with SSL certicates, you might know how annoying it can be to keep those certificates up to date. Especially when you have a multitude of servers, some possibly even serving the same certificates, this is a hassle to manage. Luckily, there is a solution, and its called Let’s Encrypt. Introducing Let’s Encrypt Let’s Encrypt is a Certificate Authority (CA) that provides an automated method for requesting and renewing free Domain Validated (DV) SSL certificates.