A powerful/stable infrastructure management tool, but a bit outdated
October 29, 2019

A powerful/stable infrastructure management tool, but a bit outdated

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

AWS OpsWorks Stacks

Overall Satisfaction with AWS OpsWorks

We currently use AWS OpsWorks in hosting our application core. It forms the foundation of our product, which is used by the entire company; however, only a few select members of our backend team manage it directly. AWS OpsWorks allows us to leverage the powerful EC2 infrastructure without having to build out a custom instance management system.
  • OpsWorks provides a relatively simple interface for connecting with the ELB and bringing up/taking down EC2 instances.
  • OpsWorks stacks and layers allow you to logically organize your infrastructure to match your system architecture.
  • OpsWorks can assist in monitoring instance health and has a decent auto-scaling feature to recover from potential load-based outages.
  • Getting up and running with OpsWorks is a very technical and potentially time-consuming process. You need to know the ins and outs of Chef/Puppet if you really want to get into it and there isn't a convenient way to test out the environment locally so debugging can be time-consuming.
  • To take advantage of some of the newer AWS instance types you need to be running on a VPC, which again is a pain if you don't have a DevOps team.
  • The error logs and monitoring metrics in OpsWorks are pretty basic and haven't changed much over the years.
  • OpsWorks allowed us to access the AWS infrastructure with a considerably lower time investment than we would have otherwise needed when we first implemented it.
  • Since we've been running with OpsWorks we've experienced very little downtime and it's required relatively little maintenance.
  • The main downside of using OpsWorks for us is that it has locked us into a very specific infrastructure that doesn't have the flexibility of many of the newer infrastructure management tools, this may lead to a painful migration down the road. We also run a risk of long outage if it ever does introduce breaking changes as the skillset needed to work with the OpsWorks tooling is very specific not widely available in our company.
We first got up and running with OpsWorks about 6~7 years ago, at a time when many of its competitors were far more limited. At the time it made sense as the logical tool to go with and getting up and running on the AWS infrastructure was beneficial for the scale we were looking to manage. Since that time many other tools have come a long way. We use Heroku for smaller projects and it's far easier to get started with and manage, but pricier at scale. We also use GAE to run some smaller projects and it's a contender should we ever need to scale further and migrate to more manageable infrastructure at scale. DigitalOcean is my favorite for smaller projects and provides by far the best price point, but it may be less desirable for companies looking for a larger scale. All said, with some of the great DevOps tools like Kubernetes/Docker/Terraform I don't think I would go with OpsWorks again if I had to start over again at this point in time.
Unless you pay for a pricey support package getting support on OpsWorks will be pretty slow. Documentation is also relatively limited and sometimes hard to follow when compared to competitors. Generally, we've been able to get the answers we need from OpsWorks support when we run into problems but don't expect rapid responses.

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Did AWS OpsWorks live up to sales and marketing promises?

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Scenarios where OpsWorks is well suited:
  • You have a team that's heavily invested in AWS infrastructure and want to simplify the management of your EC2 instances.
  • You have a large proficient DevOps team and you're willing to put into the time to learn Chef and dig deep into operations management.
Scenarios where OpsWorks is less appropriate:
  • You don't have a proficient DevOps team or development team that is able to dedicate a considerable amount of time to learn Chef and get your instances configured.
  • You want to build an application that is infrastructure-agnostic that can easily be moved to different hosting on short notice.