Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk: Policy as Code with Amazon Services

2024年1月5日- By Thach Nguyen

1. Introduction

Hello there, fellow engineers, explorers of the digital era!!

Ever had that feeling where you’ve set some house rules for your cloud infrastructure, but no one seems to follow them? And then you think, “If only I had a magic wand that ensured everyone followed the rules.” Well, using AWS, there is something pretty close (Woo-hoo!!!). In this blog, I will explain what “Policy as Code” is and sing praises about AWS services, specifically, AWS Config.

2. Policy as Code

Fundamentally, ‘Policy as Code’ is the art(!) of clearly defining and automating rules within your infrastructure to best enforce governance in the most optimal and flexible technique possible. It is similar to setting ground rules before hosting a party and making sure everyone sticks to them without having to nag the host all night.

3. AWS Config

AWS Config is the protagonist of this blog, the much-dreaded exam proctor that sets
the rules, monitoring for noncompliant actions/activities, ensuring everything is working as set up and providing disciplinary (remediation) actions whenever needed. Here’s the lowdown:

– Continuous Monitoring: AWS Config is the vigilant security guard that never sleeps. It continuously checks configurations against desired policies.

– Snapshot and Change Notifications: Ever wish you had a time machine to look back at your past actions? AWS Config pretty much offers this for your resources. It captures resource states, letting you journey back to view configurations at any given point. Plus, you get a nudge whenever there’s a change.

– Remediating non-compliances: Feeling uncomfortable whenever doing repetitive tasks just because of duplicated rouge settings? I’ve been there myself and it’s indeed not a satisfying experience. AWS Config would not only monitor for noncompliant activities, but it can also provide amendments towards those activities. Hence, lessening your burdens and boosting your efficiency by focusing your attention on more urgent tasks at hand.


Now, before we let everyone into our party, we need a guest list, right? IAM is your bouncer. It lets you set who gets in and what they can do once inside.

– User Management: Define the roles. Just like some friends get kitchen privileges while others don’t, in the AWS world, some get read-only access, while others might get full admin rights.

– Policy Attachments: Here’s where the “Policy as Code” part shines. Attach policies to users, roles, or groups. It’s like giving out wristbands at an event, each color signifying different access.

5. Flexible, robust management with AWS CloudFormation

To bring everything together, you need a stage manager, someone (or something) to ensure everything flows smoothly. That’s AWS CloudFormation for you.

– Template Creation: Start by drafting a template while referencing online resources.

– Deploy and Manage: Once ready, test before deploying. Then CloudFormation will be taking over, setting up resources, linking IAM roles, and more. It’s the behind-the-scenes hero ensuring your “Policy as Code” strategy is implemented to the letter.

6. Benefits of Policy as Code

– Consistency: Consistent policy application ensures no unexpected hiccups and even if there is, it will be cleared up without much intervention through automation.

– Quick Onboarding: Are you new to AWS or expanding your team? Implementing policies as code significantly streamlines the onboarding process, akin to providing newcomers with a clear rulebook. However, this approach isn’t entirely hands-off; some active guidance is still necessary, so don’t expect a completely handholding experience, okay?

– Audit with Ease: With AWS Config’s historical data and the ability to view activities related to IAM resources in AWS CloudTrail, you have a clear and transparent trail. Henceforth, ensuring you’re always audit-ready as well as proving that you’re keeping a watchful eye towards responsibly managing your environment.

7. Closing

“Policy as Code” in AWS is a not a must but an indispensable component, if carrying out governance and security with impeccable precision is one of your concerns. It’s important to make sure that your digital world has robust, sustainable growth accompanied by order, discipline, and, yes, a dash of magic. Hope that my blog has been engaging for you and looking forward to our next interaction. Cheers!

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