I've been a fan of Heroku since it's earliest days. But I like the fact that AWS Elastic Beanstalk gives you more control over the characteristics of the instances. One thing I love about Heroku is the fact that I can deploy an app and not worry about managing it. I am assuming Heroku is ensuring all OS security updates are timely applied. I just need to make sure my app is secure.
My initial research on Beanstalk shows that although it builds and configures the instances for you, after that it moves to a more manual management process. Security updates won't automatically be applied to the instances. It seems there are two areas of concerns:
- New AMI releases - As new AMI releases hit it seems we would want to run the latest (presumably most secure). But my research seems to indicate you need to manually launch a new setup to see the latest AMI version and then create a new environment to use that new version. Is there a better automated way of rotating your instances into new AMI releases?
- In between releases there will be security updates released for packages. Seems we want to upgrade those as well. My research seems to indicate people install commands to occasionally run a yum update. But since new instances are created/destroyed based on usage it seems that the new instances would not always have the updates (i.e. the time between the instance creation and the first yum update). So occasionally you will have instances that aren't patched. And you are also going to have instances constantly patching themselves until the new AMI release is applied. My other concern is that perhaps these security updates haven't gone through Amazon's own review (like the AMI releases do) and it might break my app to automatically update them. I know Dreamhost once had a 12 hour outage because they were applying debian updates completely automatically without any review. I want to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to me.
So my question is does Amazon provide a way to offer fully managed PaaS like Heroku? Or is AWS Elastic Beanstalk really more of just a install script and after that you are on your own (other than the monitoring and deployment tools they provide)?