Deploying a Ruby application into AWS

Welcome! In this blog post, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of deploying Ruby applications into Amazon Web Services (AWS). Both Ruby and AWS have earned their stripes as leading technologies in their respective domains—Ruby for its elegant syntax and ease of use in web development, and AWS for its extensive suite of cloud-based tools and services.

Deploying a Ruby application into AWS involves a multitude of practices and principles, many of which come from the world of DevOps—a culture of collaboration between Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops). From creating a suitable development environment to monitoring your application once it’s life, our focus will be on enabling fast, reliable, and repeatable deployments.


Before we begin, let’s discuss some of the prerequisites. Deploying a Ruby application in AWS assumes a basic understanding of the following:

  • Ruby Programming: Familiarity with Ruby syntax, gems, bundler, and the Rails framework is a plus.
  • AWS: Basic knowledge of AWS services, particularly EC2, RDS, and S3, is beneficial. If you’re new to AWS, don’t worry, we’ll cover the necessary elements.
  • Version Control Systems: Familiarity with Git or another version control system is essential for managing code and tracking changes.
  • Command Line Interface (CLI): Since a lot of our work involves interfacing with the terminal or command line, it would help to be comfortable with CLI operations.
  • DevOps Practices: An understanding of CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment), infrastructure as code (IAC), and the basics of cloud computing are beneficial.

For this tutorial, you will need:

  • A Ruby Development Environment: Ruby is installed on your local machine. We will also use Bundler and Rails for our demo application.
  • An AWS Account: If you don’t have one, you can create it on the AWS website. Some of the services used may not be covered under the AWS Free Tier, so ensure to check the associated costs.
  • AWS CLI: We will use the AWS CLI to interact with AWS services.

Setting Up Your Development Environment

Assuming you’re starting from scratch, the first thing you’ll need is a functional Ruby development environment. Let’s set that up:

Installing Ruby:

Several tools allow you to install and manage different versions of Ruby on your machine, one of the most popular being RVM (Ruby Version Manager).

On a Unix-like system, you can install RVM and the latest Ruby version with the following commands:

curl -sSL | bash -s stable --ruby

On Windows, you can use RubyInstaller to install Ruby.

After installation, verify your Ruby version with ruby -v.

Installing Bundler:

Bundler is a dependency manager for Ruby. Install it using the gem (Ruby package) command:

gem install bundler

Installing Rails:

To install Rails, which we’ll use for our demo application, use the following command:

gem install rails

With Ruby, Bundler, and Rails installed, you have the necessary tools to build and manage your Ruby application. In the next section, we will dive into creating our Ruby application.

Always remember, successful DevOps involves a blend of the right tools, best practices, and effective collaboration. Let’s continue this journey with the same mindset!

Building Your Ruby Application

Now that our development environment is ready, it’s time to build our Ruby application. We’ll create a simple Rails application for the sake of this tutorial.

Open your terminal or command line interface, navigate to your preferred directory, and create a new Rails application:

rails new my_aws_ruby_app

Change into your new application’s directory:

cd my_aws_ruby_app

This command creates a new Rails application with a default directory structure. You can run your application locally by starting the Rails server:

rails server

Open your browser and navigate to localhost:3000 to see your application running.

Remember, this is just a simple setup. In a real-world scenario, you’d be working on your application, implementing features, writing tests, and pushing your changes to a version-controlled repository.

Introduction to AWS

Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is a comprehensive cloud computing platform provided by Amazon. It offers over 175 services from data centers globally, including computing power, storage options, networking, and databases.

To get started with AWS:

  1. Create an AWS Account: If you haven’t already, head over to the AWS homepage and click on “Create an AWS Account”. Follow the steps, inputting your details as necessary.
  2. Set Up IAM (Identity and Access Management) Users: IAM allows you to manage access to AWS services and resources securely. It’s recommended to create IAM users with specific permissions rather than use your AWS root account. You can create an IAM user in your AWS Management Console.
  3. Choose Your AWS Region: AWS is comprised of multiple geographic areas called regions. Choose a region close to your target audience to minimize latency.

In this blog post, we’ll primarily focus on services such as EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), S3 (Simple Storage Service), and RDS (Relational Database Service).

Setting Up the AWS Environment

Now that we have an understanding of AWS, let’s prepare our environment:

  1. EC2 Instance: EC2 instances are virtual servers in Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for running applications on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

To set up an EC2 instance, go to your AWS Management Console, select EC2 from Services, and follow the prompts to launch an instance. For our Ruby application, select an Ubuntu Server as your instance type.

  1. RDS Setup: If your application needs a database, AWS RDS provides easy setup and operation of relational databases in the cloud.

Go to the RDS section in your AWS Management Console, click on “Create database”, and follow the prompts. Select the database engine compatible with your application.

  1. S3 Bucket: If your application needs to store files (e.g., images, documents), you’ll need an S3 bucket.

In the S3 section of your AWS Management Console, create a new bucket, and ensure to configure the permissions appropriately so that your application can read and write files.

  1. Security Group Configuration: Security groups act like a firewall for associated Amazon EC2 instances, controlling both inbound and outbound traffic at the instance level. Ensure to configure them appropriately to allow traffic only from trusted sources.

Remember, each of these services carries costs, so be sure to review AWS pricing and free tier limits.

In the next section, we’ll prepare our Ruby application for AWS deployment.

Preparing Your Ruby Application for AWS Deployment

Before we deploy our Ruby application, we need to package it and ensure it’s configured for AWS:

  1. Packaging the Application: Generate a ‘Gemfile.lock’ file if it doesn’t exist by running the command bundle install. This file is used by AWS to understand your dependencies.
  2. Configuration for AWS: If your application needs to access AWS services (like RDS or S3), make sure you’ve set up the necessary environment variables. The dotenv the gem can help manage these.
  3. Database Configuration: If you are using a database like PostgreSQL or MySQL, ensure the ‘config/database.yml’ file is properly set up for production. AWS RDS provides an endpoint that you can use here.

Now, your application is ready to be packaged and deployed.

Deploying the Ruby Application to AWS

We’ll use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, a service for deploying and scaling web applications, to deploy our Ruby application.

First, install the Elastic Beanstalk Command Line Interface (EB CLI) on your local machine. Instructions can be found in the official AWS documentation.

Once installed, navigate to your application directory and initialize your Elastic Beanstalk environment:

eb init

You’ll be asked a series of questions to configure your environment, including selecting your region, the Python version, and more. For the application environment, choose Ruby.

Next, create your Elastic Beanstalk environment:

eb create

This process can take a few minutes. Behind the scenes, Elastic Beanstalk is setting up a whole environment including EC2 instances, an Auto Scaling group, security groups, and more.

Once complete, you can open your application in a web browser using:

eb open

If everything is set up correctly, you should see your application running live on AWS!

Monitoring and Maintenance

After your application is deployed, it’s essential to monitor its performance and handle any issues that arise. AWS provides several tools for this:

  1. AWS CloudWatch: You can use CloudWatch to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, set alarms, and automatically react to changes in your AWS resources.
  2. Elastic Beanstalk Health Dashboard: AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides a health dashboard that offers an overview of the environment’s health, including instance health, and details on any ongoing issues.
  3. Handling Errors and Downtime: AWS Elastic Beanstalk automatically balances your application across multiple instances to ensure it remains available. If an error occurs, review the logs provided by Elastic Beanstalk to understand the problem and implement a fix.

Remember to regularly update your application with security patches and keep track of any changes in your application’s behavior or performance. In the next section, we’ll talk about scaling your Ruby application on AWS.

Scaling Your Ruby Application

As your application grows, it may become necessary to handle increased traffic and demand. AWS provides several strategies for scaling applications:

  1. Vertical Scaling: This involves increasing the capacity of your current resources. For an EC2 instance, this might mean upgrading to a more powerful instance type.
  2. Horizontal Scaling: Also known as scaling out/in, this involves increasing or decreasing the number of resources (EC2 instances in our case) in your application.
  3. Auto Scaling: AWS Auto Scaling monitors your applications and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost. You can set up Auto Scaling in the EC2 section of your AWS Management Console.
  4. Load Balancing: Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as EC2 instances. AWS Elastic Beanstalk automatically enables Elastic Load Balancer for your application.

By understanding and using these scaling strategies effectively, you can ensure your application remains performant and available even as demand grows.

Security Considerations

Securing your application in the cloud is a critical aspect of deployment. Here are some AWS security best practices to consider:

  1. AWS IAM: Use IAM to manage access to your AWS resources. Follow the principle of least privilege—only grant necessary permissions to each user/role.
  2. Security Groups: Ensure your security groups are set to only allow traffic from trusted sources. Regularly review and update these as necessary.
  3. Encryption: Use AWS’s built-in encryption solutions for data at rest and in transit. S3, RDS, and other services offer this feature.
  4. Regular Audits: Regularly review your AWS environment for any security misconfigurations using tools like AWS Trusted Advisor or AWS Security Hub.
  5. Update Regularly: Ensure that your application and all associated software are regularly updated with security patches.

Securing your application is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest security best practices and recommendations from AWS.

In the next section, we’ll wrap up and discuss the key points we’ve covered in this post.


Here are some frequently asked questions when deploying a Ruby application into AWS:

  1. Q: I’m facing an error during deployment. How can I debug it?
    • A: AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides logs that you can review to understand and resolve any errors. You can also check the AWS CloudWatch service for further insights into your application’s behavior.
  2. Q: How can I manage environment variables securely in AWS?
    • A: AWS Elastic Beanstalk allows you to add environment properties, which are passed onto your application as environment variables. AWS also offers the Secrets Manager service for secure storage and retrieval of secrets.
  3. Q: How much will running my Ruby application in AWS cost me?
    • A: AWS pricing depends on the resources and services you use. Remember, many services fall under the AWS Free Tier for the first 12 months. After that, or if your usage exceeds the free tier limits, you’ll start incurring costs. Always keep an eye on your AWS billing dashboard.
  4. Q: How can I automate the process of deploying updates to my application?
    • A: You can set up a CI/CD pipeline using AWS services like AWS CodePipeline and AWS CodeDeploy. These services automate the process of releasing new updates to your application.
  5. Q: How can I scale my Ruby application in response to traffic patterns?
    • A: AWS Auto Scaling allows you to automatically scale your application’s resources in response to demand. You can set up scaling policies based on CPU usage, network traffic, or custom CloudWatch metrics.


Deploying a Ruby application into AWS involves several steps—from setting up your development environment, building your application, preparing your AWS environment, to finally deploying and managing your application.

We’ve covered key concepts like setting up EC2 instances, configuring security groups, deploying with Elastic Beanstalk, scaling your application, and maintaining security.

By now, you should have a good understanding of how to deploy a Ruby application into AWS. We hope this guide has been helpful, and we encourage you to further explore AWS and Ruby, as there’s much more to learn. Keep experimenting, learning, and developing.

Remember, the journey of mastering cloud deployment is ongoing. With AWS’s extensive services, the possibilities are virtually endless. Happy coding!

Atiqur Rahman

I am MD. Atiqur Rahman graduated from BUET and is an AWS-certified solutions architect. I have successfully achieved 6 certifications from AWS including Cloud Practitioner, Solutions Architect, SysOps Administrator, and Developer Associate. I have more than 8 years of working experience as a DevOps engineer designing complex SAAS applications.

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