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Automate publishing in the AWS Marketplace

At CHEF we recently started publishing the Chef Server along with it’s Add-On’s into the AWS Marketplace. The documentation provided by Amazon was mostly limited to general guidelines and the rules of publishing. While it recommends building an automated process for publishing, it stops short of prescribing a repeatable way to build, test and publish AMI’s into Marketplace. What I’ve done is build a Chef resource that will allow you to easily automate publishing your application into the AWS Marketplace. In this blog post I’ll give an overview of the entire process of creating a cookbook for your application and detail how to use the marketplace_ami resource to automate the building and publishing in Marketplace.

Set up your workstation

Before we begin you’ll need to install and configure the Chef Development Kit and the AWS command line tools. It’s not required, but you’ll probably want to install Virtualbox and Vagrant for local testing. You can use Ec2 for testing as well.

Prepare an application cookbook

Before you can automate the publishing of your application you first need to automate the the installation and configuration of it. In this section I’ll go through the process of writing a basic cookbook that will act as our app in this tutorial.

If you’re already familiar with and/or have a cookbook for automating your application you should skip ahead to the publishing section.

ChefDK comes bundled with several command line utilities to assist in building and testing Chef cookbooks. Here we’ll use the chef command to create a repository for your chef policy and create a skeleton cookbook for the demo application called jackfruit that we’ll eventually publish to the AWS Marketplace.

  • Create a chef-repo and application cookbook

    $: cd ~
    $: chef generate repo chef-repo
    $: cd chef-repo/cookbooks
    $: chef generate cookbook jackfruit

For the sake of brevity we’ll skip over the in’s and out’s of writing fully tested idiomatic Chef cookbooks. Instead, we’ll limit the scope of this tutorial to the task at hand. There are lots of other great resources for learning Chef that I’d recommend going through if you’re new to using it.

  • Create a recipe that will set up Apache and serve our application

    # jackfruit/recipes/default.rb
    include_recipe 'apt'
    package 'apache2' do
      action :install
    template '/var/www/htmp/index.html' do
      source 'index.html.erb'
        app: 'jackfruit',
        message: node['jackfruit']['message']
      notifies :restart, 'service[apache2]'
      action :create
    service 'apache2' do
      action :start
  • Add ‘message’ to the node attributes

    # jackfruit/attributes/default.rb
    default['jackfruit']['message'] = 'Welcome to the Jackfruit app on the AWS Marketplace!'
  • Create our index.html.erb template

    # jackfruit/templates/default/index.html.erb
        <title><%= @app %></title>
      <body bgcolor=white>
        <h1>Welcome to <%= app %>!</h1>
        <p><%= @message %></p>
  • Update the metadata to depend on the ‘apt’ recipe which ensures that our apt mirrors are up to date when chef installs packages.

    # jackfruit/metadata.rb
    name             'jackfruit'
    maintainer       'ryan'
    maintainer_email ''
    license          'ApacheV2'
    description      'Installs/Configures jackfruit'
    long_description 'Installs/Configures jackfruit'
    version          '0.1.0'
    depends 'apt'
  • Configure test-kitchen to forward port 80 from the VM to our workstation on 8080.

    # jackfruit/.kitchen.yml
      name: vagrant
      name: chef_zero
      - name: ubuntu-14.04
        driver_plugin: vagrant
            - ["forwarded_port", {guest: 80, host: 8080, auto_correct: true}]
      - name: centos-7.1
      - name: default
          - recipe[jackfruit::default]
  • Use test-kitchen to converge the VM and manually verify the output. As you get more familiar with Chef and test-kitchen you will want to automate this manual verification using serverspec and test-kitchen suites. If you opted to not install vagrant and virtualbox you could use the AWS test-kitchen driver in this step.

    $: cd ~/chef-repo/cookbooks/jackfruit
    $: kitchen converge

You should now be able to visit localhost in your browser and see our application. Be careful to watch the test-kitchen output as it will automatically fix port collisions, as it did in my case.

    ==> default: Fixed port collision for 80 => 8080. Now on port 2204.

Now that our demo application is automated we’ll destroy the VM and move on.

$: kitchen destroy

Publish your application

For our publishing recipe we’ll use the marketplace_ami resource to provision a new EC2 instance, converge the jackfruit recipe, create and register an AMI and share it with AWS Marketplace.

Optionally, you can enable a security recipe that will remove sensitive data by setting security parameter to true. Also available is a chef-client audit mode recipe that will audit the instance for known AWS security policies. You can enable it by setting the audit parameter to true. Detailed information about the resource can be found in the projects README on github.

  • Update the jackfruit cookbook dependencies

    # jackfruit/metadata.rb
    name             'jackfruit'
    maintainer       'ryan'
    version          '0.1.0'
    depends 'apt'
    depends 'marketplace_ami'
  • Create a publishing recipe

    # jackfruit/recipes/publisher.rb
    marketplace_ami 'jackfruit-demo' do
      instance_type   't2.medium'
      source_image_id 'ami-123456'
      ssh_keyname     'your_ssh_key'
      ssh_keypath     '~/.aws/your_ssh_key.pem'
      ssh_username    'ec2-user'
      product_code    '123799879'
      security        false
      audit           false
      recipe 'jackfruit::default'
      attribute %w(jackfruit message), 'Awesome new content!'
      action :create

In the example I used several but not of the marketplace_image resource’s parameters. Feel free to change the values to reflect what you need. If you omit parameters, the resource and sub-resources will attempt to guess sane values but I’d recommend being as explicit as possible to ensure a consistent and repeatable build. In the example I’ve disabled the security and auditing checks because our demo cookbook will fail the audit. This isn’t a problem for the demo, but when you’re publishing your application you’ll want to enable the audit during build time and update your application cookbook until the audit passes. This will help to ensure that your image will pass the AWS security scanning.

  • Create a Berksfile in your chef-repo that points to your application cookbook

    # ~/chef-repo/Berksfile
    source ''
    cookbook 'jackfruit', path: '~/chef-repo/cookbooks/jackfruit'
  • Now vendor all of the required cookbooks into your chef-repo

    $: cd ~/chef-repo
    $: berks vendor ~/chef-repo/cookbooks
  • Converge the the publisher recipe (output trimmed for clarity)

    $: cd ~/chef-repo
    $: chef-client -z -o jackfruit::publisher
    Starting Chef Client, version 12.4.1
    [2015-08-19T15:10:07-07:00] INFO:  Chef 12.4.1
    [2015-08-19T15:10:09-07:00] INFO: Run List expands to [jackfruit::publisher]
    resolving cookbooks for run list: ["jackfruit::publisher"]
    - Create jackfruit-demo with AMI ami-0372b468 in us-east-1[2015-08-19T15:10:17-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_node[jackfruit-demo] action create (basic_chef_client::block line 57)
    - jackfruit-demo is now ready[2015-08-19T15:10:50-07:00] INFO: [AWS EC2 200 0.215999 0 retries] describe_instances(:filters=>[{:name=>"instance-id",:values=>["i-0779e4ac"]}])
    - jackfruit-demo is now connectable[2015-08-19T15:13:04-07:00] INFO: Reading key ryan from file /Users/ryan/.chef/keys/ryan
    - generate private key (2048 bits)[2015-08-19T15:13:07-07:00] INFO: Executing sudo ls -d /etc/chef/client.pem on ec2-user@
    - write file /etc/chef/client.pem on jackfruit-demo[2015-08-19T15:13:08-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_client[jackfruit-demo] action create (basic_chef_client::block line 132)
    - write file /etc/chef/ohai/hints/ec2.json on jackfruit-demo[2015-08-19T15:13:10-07:00] INFO: Executing sudo ls -d /etc/chef/client.rb on ec2-user@
    - write file /etc/chef/client.rb on jackfruit-demo[2015-08-19T15:13:11-07:00] INFO: Executing sudo chef-client -v on ec2-user@
    - run 'bash -c ' bash /tmp/ -v 12.4.1'' on jackfruit-demo[2015-08-19T15:22:21-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_node[jackfruit-demo] action create (basic_chef_client::block line 57)
    -   update run_list from ["recipe[jackfruit::default]", "recipe[marketplace_ami::_securitycontrols]"] to ["recipe[jackfruit::default]", "recipe[jackfruit::default]", "recipe[marketplace_ami::_sec
    [jackfruit-demo] [2015-08-19T22:22:24+00:00] INFO: Forking chef instance to converge...
                     Starting Chef Client, version 12.4.1
                     [2015-08-19T22:22:24+00:00] INFO: *** Chef 12.4.1 ***
                     [2015-08-19T22:22:26+00:00] INFO: Run List expands to [jackfruit::default, marketplace_ami::_security_controls]
                     resolving cookbooks for run list: ["jackfruit::default", "marketplace_ami::_security_controls"]
                     - chef-sugar
                   Compiling Cookbooks...
                   Converging 2 resources
                   Recipe: jackfruit::default
                   - Create image jackfruit-demo from machine jackfruit-demo with options {}[2015-08-19T15:38:43-07:00] INFO: [AWS EC2 200 0.154614 0 retries] describe_tags(:filters=>[{:name=>"resource-id",:values=>
                   - applying tags {"From-Instance"=>"i-8b188520"}[2015-08-19T15:38:44-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_data_bag[machine_image] action create (basic_chef_client::block line 62)
                   - create data bag machine_image at chefzero://localhost:8889[2015-08-19T15:38:44-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_data_bag_item[machine_image/jackfruit-demo] action create (basic_chef_client::block li
                   - create data bag item jackfruit-demo at chefzero://localhost:8889
                   - Image jackfruit-demo is now ready[2015-08-19T15:39:49-07:00] INFO: Processing aws_instance[jackfruit-demo] (i-8b188520) action destroy (basic_chef_client::block line 506)
                   - delete instance aws_instance[jackfruit-demo] (i-8b188520) in VPC vpc-e42b2f81 in us-east-1[2015-08-19T15:39:50-07:00] INFO: [AWS EC2 200 0.212792 0 retries] describe_instances(:instance_ids=>["i
                   - delete node jackfruit-demo at chefzero://localhost:8889[2015-08-19T15:40:01-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_client[jackfruit-demo] action delete (basic_chef_client::block line 44)
                   - delete client jackfruit-demo at clients[2015-08-19T15:40:01-07:00] INFO: Processing chef_node[jackfruit-demo] action delete (basic_chef_client::block line 91)
                 * ruby_block[share jackfruit-demo with the AWS Marketplace account] action run[2015-08-19T15:40:01-07:00] INFO: Processing ruby_block[share jackfruit-demo with the AWS Marketplace account] action ru
                   - execute the ruby block share jackfruit-demo with the AWS Marketplace account
    [2015-08-19T15:40:02-07:00] WARN: Skipping final node save because override_runlist was given
    [2015-08-19T15:40:02-07:00] INFO: Chef Run complete in 594.834383 seconds
    [2015-08-19T15:40:02-07:00] INFO: Skipping removal of unused files from the cache

595 seconds to create, converge, audit, publish and share your AMI in the AWS Marketplace. Not bad for 10 minutes of work.

Run the security scanner

Login to the AWS Marketplace Management UI to locate your new image.

Now you can intiate the AWS security scanning. Eventually I hope to have this sIndextep automated but there’s not a public API and your Ec2/IAM credentials cannot be used for authentication with the Marketplace Management console.

Going further

In this example we used our workstation node to run the publishing recipe. Ideally publishing would be done as part of an automated CI/CD pipeline job that you can trigger.

We use this same process to publish our software into the marketplace. You can find our publishing recipes in our marketplace_image cookbook

If you’d like to contribute, report bugs, or find more information, please visit the marketplace_ami github repo