Deploy Nodejs app to AWS in EC2 server

Deploy Nodejs app to AWS in EC2 server
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There are multiple ways in which you can deploy your Nodejs app, be it On-Cloud or On-Premises. However, it is not just about deploying your application but deploying it in the right way. Security is also an important aspect that must not be ignored, and if you do so the application won’t stand long and there is a high chance of it getting compromised. Hence, here we are to help you with the steps to deploy Nodejs app to AWS.  We will show you exactly how to deploy Nodejs app to server using Docker containers, RDS Amazon Aurora, Nginx with HTTPS, and access it using the Domain Name.

Table of contents

Tool Stack

Nodejs Sample App
A sample Nodejs app with 3 APIs viz, status, insert and list. These APIs will be used to check the status of the app, insert data in the database and fetch & display the data from the database.

AWS EC2 Instance
An Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance will be used to deploy the containerized Nodejs App. We will install Docker in this instance on top of which containers will be created. We will also install MySql Client on the instance. MySql client is required to connect to the Aurora Instance to create a required table.

AWS RDS Amazon Aurora
Our data will be stored in AWS RDS Amazon Aurora. We will store simple fields like username, email-id and age will be stored in the AWS RDS Amazon Aurora Instance.
Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible relational database available on AWS.

Docker
Docker is a containerization platform to build Docker Images and deploy them using containers. We will deploy Nodejs app to server, Nginx, and Certbot as Docker Containers.

Docker-Compose
To spin up the Nodejs, Nginx, Certbot containers, we will use Docker-Compose. Docker Compose helps to reduce container deployment and management time.  

Nginx
This will be used to enable HTTPS for the sample Nodejs app and redirect all user requests to the Nodejs App. It will act as a reverse proxy to redirect user requests to the application and will also help in securing the connection by providing the configuration to enable SSL/HTTPS.

Certbot
This will enable us to automatically use Let’s Encrypt for Domain Validation and issuing SSL certificates.

Domain
At the end of the doc, you will be able to access the sample Nodejs Application using your Domain name over HTTPS, i.e. your sample Nodejs will be secured over the internet. 

PostMan
We will use Postman to test our APIs, i.e. to check status, insert data, and list data from the database.

As I said, we will “deploy Nodejs app to server using Docker containers, RDS Amazon Aurora, Nginx with HTTPS, and access it using the Domain Name”, let’s first understand the architecture before we get our hands dirty.

deploy Nodejs app to AWS tool stack

Architecture: Deploy Nodejs app to ec2 server using Docker container, RDS Amazon Aurora, Nginx with HTTPS, and access it using the Domain Name

Deploy Nodejs app to ec2 instance using Docker will be available on port 3000. This sample Nodejs app fetches data from the RDS Amazon Aurora instance created in the same VPC as that of the EC2 instance. An Amazon Aurora DB instance will be private and hence accessible within the same VPC. The Nodejs application deployed on the EC2 instance can be accessed using its public IP on port 3000, but we won’t. 

Accessing applications on non-standard ports is not recommended, hence we will have Nginx that will act as a Reverse Proxy and enable SSL Termination. Users will try to access the Application using the Domain Name and these requests will be forwarded to Nginx. Nginx will check the request and based on the API, it will redirect that request to the Nodejs app. The application will also be terminated with the SSL, as a result the communication between the client and the server will be secured and protected.

Here is the architecture diagram that gives the clarity of deploy Nodejs app to AWS

how to deploy Nodejs app to AWS

Prerequisites

Before we proceed ahead into deploy Nodejs app to AWS, it is assumed that you already have the following Prerequisites.

  1. AWS Account
  2. PostMan or any other alternative on your Machine to test APIs
  3. A registered Domain in your AWS Account
hire a dedicated devops engineer in your same time zone

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS

Go to https://AWS.amazon.com/console/ and login into your account.

After you log in successfully in your account, click in the search bar and search for EC2. Click on the result to visit the EC2 dashboard to create an EC2 instance.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 1

Here, click on “Launch instances” to configure and create an EC2 instance.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 2

Select the “Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS” AMI.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 3

I would recommend you to select t3.small only for test purposes, this will have 2 CPUs and 2GB RAM. You can choose the instance type as per your need and choice. 

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 4

You can keep the default settings and proceed ahead. Here, I have selected the default VPC, if you want you can select your VPC. Make a note that, here I will be creating an instance in the Public Subnet.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 5

Better to put a larger disk space at 30GB. The rest can be the default.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 6

Assign a “Name” “Environment” tag any values of your choice. You may even skip this step. 

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 6

Allow connection to port 22 only from your IP. If you allow it from 0.0.0.0/0, then your instance will allow anyone on port 22.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 7

Review the configuration once, and click on “Launch” if everything looks fine to create an Instance.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 8

Before the instance gets created, it needs a key-pair. You can either create a new key-pair or use the existing one. Click on the “Launch instances” button that will initiate the instance creation.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 9

To go to the console and check your instance, click on the “View instances” button.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 10

Here, you can see that the instance has been created and is in the “Initiating” phase. Within a minute or 2, you can see your instance up and running. 

Meanwhile, let’s create an RDS Instance.

Create an Ubuntu 20.04 LTS EC2 Instance on AWS step 11

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS

Again click in the search bar at the top of the page and this time search for “RDS”. Click on the result to visit the RDS Dashboard.

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS step 1

On the RDS Dashboard, click on the “Create database” button to configure and create the RDS instance.

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS step 2

Choose the “Easy create” method, “Amazon Aurora” Engine type, “Dev/Test” DB instance size as follows

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS step 3

Scroll down a bit and specify the “DB cluster identifier” as “my-Nodejs-database”. You can specify any name of your choice as it is just a name given to the RDS Instance; however, I would suggest using the same name so that you do not get confused while following the next steps.

Also, specify a master username as “admin”, its password, and then click on “Create database”.

This will initiate the RDS Amazon Aurora Instance creation. Make a note that for production or live environments, you must not set simple usernames and passwords.

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS step 4

Here, you can see that the instance is in the “Creating” state. In around 5-10 minutes, you should have the instance up and running. 

Create an RDS Aurora with MySql Instance on AWS step 5

Make a few notes here:

  • The RDS Amazon Aurora instance will be by default private, which means the RDS Amazon Aurora instance will not be reachable from the outside world and will only be available within the VPC.
  • The EC2 instance and the RDS instance belong to the same VPC.
  • The RDS instance is reachable from the EC2 instance.

Install dependencies on the EC2 Instance

Now, you can connect to the Instance we created. I will not get into details on how to connect to the instance and I believe that you already know it.

MySql Client

We will need a MySQL client to connect to the RDS Amazon Aurora instance and create a database in it. Connect to the EC2 instance and execute the following commands from it.

  1. sudo apt update
  2. sudo apt install mysql-client

Create a Table

We will need a table in our RDS Amazon Aurora instance to store our application data. To create a table, connect to the Amazon RDS Aurora instance using the MySQL client we installed on the EC2 instance in the previous step.
Copy the Database Endpoint from the Amazon Aurora Instance. 

Install dependencies on the EC2 Instance

Execute the following common with the correct values

  1. mysql -u <user-name> -p<password> -h <host-endpoint>

Here, my command looks as follows

  1. mysql -u admin -padmin1234 -h my-Nodejs-database.cluster-cxxjkzcl1hwb.eu-west-3.rds.amazonAWS.com

Once you get connected to the Amazon RDS Aurora instance, execute the following commands to create a table named “users”.

show databases;
use main;
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS users(id int NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT, username varchar(30), email varchar(255), age int, PRIMARY KEY(id));
select * from users;

Refer to the following screenshot to understand command executions.

Install dependencies on the EC2 Instance

Create an Application Directory

Now, let’s create a directory where we will store all our codebase and configuration files.

  1. pwd
  2. cd /home/ubuntu/ 
  3. mkdir Nodejs-docker
  4. cd Nodejs-docker

Clone the code repository on the EC2 instance 

Clone my Github Repository containing all the code. This is an optional step, I have included all the code in this document.

  1. pwd
  2. cd /home/ubuntu/ 
  3. git clone https://github.com/shivalkarrahul/DevOps.git
  4. cp /home/ubuntu/DevOps/AWS/Nodejs-docker/* /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker

Note: This is an optional step. If you copy all the files from the repository to the application directory then you do not need to create files in the upcoming steps; however, you will still need to make the necessary changes. 

Deploy Nodejs app to AWS EC2 instance using a Docker container, RDS Amazon Aurora, Nginx with HTTPS, and access it using the Domain Name

Docker, why use docker in your ec2 instance

Docker is a containerization tool used to package our software application into an image that can be used to create Docker Containers. Docker helps to build, share and deploy our applications easily. 

The first step of Dockerization is installing Docker.

Install Docker

  1. Check Linux Version
    1. cat /etc/issue
  2. Update the apt package index
    1. sudo apt-get update
  3. Install packages to allow apt to use a repository over HTTPS
    1. sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl gnupg lsb-release
  4. Add Docker’s official GPG key:
    1. curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo gpg –dearmor -o /usr/share/keyrings/docker-archive-keyring.gpg
  5. Set up the stable repository
    1. echo “deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/docker-archive-keyring.gpg] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu  $(lsb_release -cs) stable” | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/docker.list > /dev/null
  6. Update the apt package index
    1. sudo apt-get update
  7. Install the latest version of Docker Engine and containerd
    1. sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io
  8. Check Docker version
    1. docker –version
  9. Manage Docker as a non-root user
    1. Create ‘docker’ group
      1. sudo groupadd docker
    2. Add your user to the docker group
      1. sudo usermod -aG docker <your-user-name>
  10. Exit.
    1. exit
  11. Login back to the terminal  
  12. Verify that you can run docker commands without sudo
    1. docker run hello-world
  13. Upon executing the above run command,  you should see the output as follows.

  14. Refer to the following screenshot to see the command that I have executed.

Dockerize your Node.js application in the EC2 instance

Once you have Docker installed, the next step is to Dockerize the app. Dockerizing a Nodejs app means writing a Dockerfile with a set of instructions to create a Docker Image. 

Let’s create Dockerfile and a sample Nodejs app.

  1. pwd
  2. cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker
  3. Create Dockerfile and paste the following in it, alternatively, you can copy the content from here as well.
    1. vim Dockerfile
#Base Image node:12.18.4-alpine
FROM node:12.18.4-alpine
#Set working directory to /app
WORKDIR /app
#Set PATH /app/node_modules/.bin
ENV PATH /app/node_modules/.bin:$PATH
#Copy package.json in the image
COPY package.json ./

#Install Packages
RUN npm install express --save
RUN npm install mysql --save

#Copy the app
COPY . ./
#Expose application port
EXPOSE 3000

#Start the app
CMD ["node", "index.js"]
  1. Create index.js and paste the following in it, alternatively, you can copy the content from here as well. This will be our sample Nodejs app.
    1. vim index.js 
const express = require('express');
const app = express();
const port = 3000;
const mysql = require('mysql');
const con = mysql.createConnection({
    host: 
"my-Nodejs-database.cluster-cxxjkzcl1hwb.eu-west3.rds.amazonAWS.com",
    user: "admin",
    password: "admin1234"
});

app.get('/status', (req, res) => res.send({status: "I'm up and running"}));
app.listen(port, () => console.log(`Dockerized Nodejs Applications is listening on port ${port}!`));

app.post('/insert', (req, res) => {
    if (req.query.username && req.query.email && req.query.age) {
        console.log('Received an insert call');
        con.connect(function(err) {
            con.query(`INSERT INTO main.users (username, email, age) VALUES ('${req.query.username}', '${req.query.email}', '${req.query.age}')`, function(err, result, fields) {
                if (err) res.send(err);
                if (result) res.send({username: req.query.username, email: req.query.email, age: req.query.age});
                if (fields) console.log(fields);
            });
        });
    } else {
        console.log('Something went wrong, Missing a parameter');
    }
});

app.get('/list', (req, res) => {
    console.log('Received a list call');
    con.connect(function(err) {
        con.query(`SELECT * FROM main.users`, function(err, result, fields) 
{
            if (err) res.send(err);
            if (result) res.send(result);
        });
    });
});

In the above file, change values of the following variables with the one applicable to your RDS Amazon Aurora instance: 

  • host: “my-Nodejs-database.cluster-cxxjkzcl1hwb.eu-west-3.rds.amazonAWS.com”
  • user: “admin”
  • password: “admin1234”
  1. Create package.json and paste the following in it, alternatively, you can copy the content from here as well.
    1. vim package.json

{
  “name”: “Nodejs-docker”,
  “version”: “12.18.4”,
  “description”: “Nodejs on ec2 using docker container”,
  “main”: “index.js”,
  “scripts”: {
    “test”: “echo \”Error: no test specified\” && exit 1″
  },
  “author”: “Rahul Shivalkar”,
  “license”: “ISC”
}

Update the AWS Security Group

To access the application, we need to add a rule in the Security Group to allow connections on port 3000. As I said earlier, we can access the application on port 3000, but it is not recommended. Keep reading to know our recommendations.

  1. Go to the EC2 Dashboard, select the instance, switch to the “Security” tab, and then click on the Security groups link.
  1. Select the “Inbound rules” tab and click on the  “Edit inbound rules” button.
  1. Add a new rule that will allow external connection from “MyIp” on the “3000” port.

Deploy the node.js server on the EC2 Server (Instance)

  1. Let’s build a docker image from the code that we have.
    1. cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker
    2. docker build -t Nodejs .
  2. Start a container using the image that we just build and expose it on port 3000 
    1. docker run –name Nodejs -d -p 3000:3000 Nodejs
  3. You can see the container is running.
    1. docker ps
  4. You can even check the logs of the container.
    1. docker logs Nodejs

Now we have our Nodejs App Docker Container running. 

  1. Now you can access the application from your browser on port 3000. 
  • Check the status of the application on /status api using the browser. http://<public-ip-of-ec2-instance>:3000/status
  • You can insert some data in the application on /insert api using the Postman app using POST request. 
    http://<public-ip-of-ec2-instance>:3000/insert?username=abc&[email protected]&age=2
  • You can list the data from your application by using /list api from the browser
    http://<public-ip-of-ec2-instance>:3000/list
  1. Alternatively, you can use the curl command from within the EC2 instance to check status, insert data, list data.
    1. curl -XGET “http://<public-ip-of-ec2-instance>:3000/list”
    2. curl -XPOST “http://<public-ip-of-ec2-instance>:3000/insert?username=abc&email=[email protected]&age=26″
  2. Stop and remove the container
    1. docker stop Nodejs
    2. docker rm Nodejs

In this section, we tried to access APIs available for the application directly using the Public IP:Port of the EC2 instance. However, exposing non-standard ports to the external world in the Security Group is not at all recommended. Also, we tried to access the application over the HTTP protocol, which means the communication that took place from the Browser to the Application was not secure and an attacker can read the network packets.    

To overcome this scenario, it is recommended to use Nginx.

Nginx setup

Let’s create an Nginx conf that will be used within the Nginx Container through a Docker Volume. Create a file and copy the following content in the file, alternatively, you can copy the content from here as well.

  1. cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker
  2. mkdir nginx-conf
  3. vim nginx-conf/nginx.conf
server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;
        location ~ /.well-known/acme-challenge {
                allow all;
                root /var/www/html;
        }
        location / {
                rewrite ^ https://$host$request_uri? permanent;
        }
}
server {
        listen 443 ssl http2;
        listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
        server_name Nodejs.devopslee.com www.Nodejs.devopslee.com;
        server_tokens off;
        ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/Nodejs.devopslee.com/fullchain.pem;
        ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/Nodejs.devopslee.com/privkey.pem;
        ssl_buffer_size 8k;
        ssl_dhparam /etc/ssl/certs/dhparam-2048.pem;
        ssl_protocols TLSv1.2 TLSv1.1 TLSv1;
        ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
        ssl_ciphers ECDH+AESGCM:ECDH+AES256:ECDH+AES128:DH+3DES:!ADH:!AECDH:!MD5;
        ssl_ecdh_curve secp384r1;
        ssl_session_tickets off;
        ssl_stapling on;
        ssl_stapling_verify on;
        resolver 8.8.8.8;
        location / {
                try_files $uri @Nodejs;
        }
        location @Nodejs {
                proxy_pass http://Nodejs:3000;
                add_header X-Frame-Options "SAMEORIGIN" always;
                add_header X-XSS-Protection "1; mode=block" always;
                add_header X-Content-Type-Options "nosniff" always;
                add_header Referrer-Policy "no-referrer-when-downgrade" always;
                add_header Content-Security-Policy "default-src * data: 'unsafe-eval' 'unsafe-inline'" always;
        }
        root /var/www/html;
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;
}

In the above file make changes in the 3 lines mentioned below. Replace my subdomain.domain, i.e. Nodejs.devopslee, with the one that you want and have.

  1. server_name Nodejs.devopslee.com www.Nodejs.devopslee.com;
  2. ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/Nodejs.devopslee.com/fullchain.pem;
  3. ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/Nodejs.devopslee.com/privkey.pem;

Why do you need Nginx in front of the node.js service?

Our Nodejs application runs on a non-standard port 3000. Nodejs provides a way to use HTTPS; however, configuring the protocol and managing SSL certificates that expire periodically within the application code base, is something we should not be concerned about. 

To overcome these scenarios, we need to have Nginx in front of it with SSL termination and forward user requests to Nodejs. Nginx is a special type of web server that can act as a reverse proxy, load balancer, mail proxy, and HTTP cache. Here, we will be using Nginx as a reverse proxy to redirect requests to our Nodejs application and have SSL termination. 

Why not Apache?

Apache is also a web server and can act as a reverse proxy. It also supports SSL termination; however, there are a few things that differentiate Nginx from Apache. Due to the following reasons, mostly Nginx is preferred over Apache. Let’s see them in short.

  1. Nginx has a single or a low number of processes, is asynchronous and event-based,  whereas Apache tries to make new processes, new threads for every request in every connection.
  2. Nginx is lightweight, scalable, and easy to configure. On the other hand, Apache is great but has a higher barrier to learning.

Docker-Compose

Let’s install docker-compose as we will need it.

  1. Download the current stable release of Docker Compose
    1. sudo curl -L “https://github.com/docker/compose/releases/download/1.29.2/docker-compose-$(uname -s)-$(uname -m)” -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
  2. Apply executable permissions to the docker-compose binary we just downloaded in the above step.
    1. sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
  3. Test if the installation was successful by checking the docker-compose version
    1. docker-compose –version
  4. Create a docker-compose.yaml file, alternatively you can copy the content from here as well. This will be used to spin the docker containers of our application tech stack that we have.
    1. cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker
    2. vim docker-compose.yml
version: '3'
services:
  Nodejs:
    build:
      context: .
      dockerfile: Dockerfile
    image: Nodejs
    container_name: Nodejs
    restart: unless-stopped
    networks:
      - app-network
  webserver:
    image: nginx:mainline-alpine
    container_name: webserver
    restart: unless-stopped
    ports:
      - "80:80"
      - "443:443"
    volumes:
      - web-root:/var/www/html
      - ./nginx-conf:/etc/nginx/conf.d
      - certbot-etc:/etc/letsencrypt
      - certbot-var:/var/lib/letsencrypt
      - dhparam:/etc/ssl/certs
    depends_on:
      - Nodejs
    networks:
      - app-network
  certbot:
    image: certbot/certbot
    container_name: certbot
    volumes:
      - certbot-etc:/etc/letsencrypt
      - certbot-var:/var/lib/letsencrypt
      - web-root:/var/www/html
    depends_on:
      - webserver
    command: certonly --webroot --webroot-path=/var/www/html --email [email protected] --agree-tos --no-eff-email --staging -d Nodejs.devopslee.com  -d www.Nodejs.devopslee.com
    #command: certonly --webroot --webroot-path=/var/www/html --email [email protected] --agree-tos --no-eff-email --force-renewal -d Nodejs.devopslee.com  -d www.Nodejs.devopslee.com
volumes:
  certbot-etc:
  certbot-var:
  web-root:
    driver: local
    driver_opts:
      type: none
      device: /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/views/
      o: bind
  dhparam:
    driver: local
    driver_opts:
      type: none
      device: /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/dhparam/
      o: bind
networks:
  app-network:
    driver: bridge

In the above file make changes in the line mentioned below. Replace my subdomain.domain, i.e. Nodejs.devopslee, with the one that you want and have. Change IP for your personal Email.

–email EMAIL, Email used for registration and recovery contact.

  1.     command: certonly –webroot –webroot-path=/var/www/html –email [email protected] –agree-tos –no-eff-email –staging -d Nodejs.devopslee.com  -d www.Nodejs.devopslee.com

Update the AWS security groups

This time, expose ports 80 and 443 in the security group attached to the EC2 instance. Also, remove 3000 since it is not necessary, because the application works through port 443.

Update the AWS security groups

Include the DNS change

Here, I have created a sub-domain “Nodejs.devopslee.com” that will be used to access the sample Nodejs application using the domain name rather than accessing using an IP.

You can create your sub-domain on AWS if you already have your domain.  

Include the DNS change to Deploy Nodejs app to AWS EC2 instance

Create 2 “Type A Recordsets” in the hosted zone with a value as EC2 instances’ public IP.

One Recordset will be subdomain.domain.com and the other will be www.subdomain.domain.com.

Here, I have created Nodejs.devopslee.com and www.Nodejs.devopslee.com, both pointing to the Public IP of the EC2 instance.

Note: I have not assigned any Elastic IP to the EC2 instance. It is recommended to assign an Elastic IP and then use it in the Recordset so that when you restart your EC2 instance, you don’t need to update the IP in the Recordset because public IPs change after the EC2 instance is restarted.

Now, copy values of the “Type 

NS Recordset”, we will need these in the next steps.

Include the DNS change to Deploy Nodejs app to AWS EC2 instance

Go to the Hosted zone of your domain and create a new “Record” with your subdomain.domain.com adding the NS values you copied in the previous step.

Include the DNS change to Deploy Nodejs app to AWS EC2 instance

Now, you have a sub-domain that you can use to access your application.

In my case, I can use Nodejs.devopslee.com to access the Nodejs application. We are not done yet, now the next step is to secure our Nodejs web application.

Include the SSL certificate

Let’s generate our key that will be used in Nginx.

  1. cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker
  2. mkdir views
  3. mkdir dhparam
  4. sudo openssl dhparam -out /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/dhparam/dhparam-2048.pem 2048

Deploy Nodejs app to EC2 instance

We are all set to start our Nodejs app using docker-compose.

This will start our Nodejs app on port 3000, Nginx with SSL on port 80 and 443. Nginx will redirect requests to the Nodejs app when accessed using the domain. It will also have a Certbot client that will enable us to obtain our certificates.

  1. docker-compose  up

After you hit the above command, you will see some output as follows. You must see a message as “Successfully received certificates”.

Note: The above docker-compose command will start containers and will stay attached to the terminal. We have not used the -d option to detach it from the terminal.

Deploy Nodejs app to EC2 instance

You are all set, now hit the URL in the browser and you should have your Nodejs application available on HTTPS. 

Deploy Nodejs app to EC2 instance

You can also try to hit the application using the curl command

  1. List the data from the application
    1. curl https://Nodejs.devopslee.com/list
  2. Insert an entry in the application
    1. curl -XPOST “https://Nodejs.devopslee.com/insert?username=abc&[email protected]&age=28
  3. Again list the data to verify if the data has been inserted or not
    1. curl https://Nodejs.devopslee.com/list
Deploy Nodejs app to EC2 instance
  1. Check the status of the application
    1. https://Nodejs.devopslee.com/status
  2. Hit the URL in the browser to get a list of entries in the database.
    1. https://Nodejs.devopslee.com/list

Auto-Renewal of SSL Certificates

Certificates we generate using Let’s Encrypt are valid for 90 days, hence we need to have a way to renew our certificates automatically so that we don’t end up with expired certificates.

To automate this process, let’s create a script that will renew certificates for us and a cronjob to schedule the execution of this script.

  1. Create a script with –dry-run to test our script
    1. vim renew-cert.sh
#!/bin/bash

COMPOSE="/usr/local/bin/docker-compose --no-ansi"
DOCKER="/usr/bin/docker"

cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/
$COMPOSE run certbot renew --dry-run && $COMPOSE kill -s SIGHUP webserver
$DOCKER system prune -af
Auto-Renewal of SSL Certificates to Deploy Nodejs app to AWS EC2 instance
  1. Change permissions of the script to make it executable.
    1. chmod 774 renew-cert.sh
  2. Create a cronjob
    1. sudo crontab -e
*/5 * * * * /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/renew-cert.sh >> /var/log/cron.log 2>&1
  1. List the cronjobs.
    1. sudo crontab -l
  1. Check logs of the cronjob after 5 mins, as we have set a cronjob to be executed on every 5th minute 
    1. tail -f /var/log/cron.lo

In the above screenshot, you can see a “Simulating renewal of an existing certificate….” message. This is because we have specified the “–dry-run” option in the script.

  1. Let’s remove the  “–dry-run” option from the script.
    1. vim renew-cert.sh
#!/bin/bash

COMPOSE="/usr/local/bin/docker-compose --no-ansi"
DOCKER="/usr/bin/docker"

cd /home/ubuntu/Nodejs-docker/
$COMPOSE run certbot renew && $COMPOSE kill -s SIGHUP webserver
$DOCKER system prune -af

This time you won’t see such a “Simulating renewal of an existing certificate….” message. This time the script will check if there is any need to renew the certificates, and if required will renew the certificates else will ignore and say “Certificates not yet due for renewal”

Auto-Renewal of SSL Certificates

What is next on how to deploy the Nodejs app to AWS?

We are done with setting up our Nodejs application using Docker on AWS EC2 instance; however, there are other things that come into the picture when you want to deploy a highly available application for production and other environments. The next step is to use an Orchestrator like ECS or EKS  to manage our Nodejs application at the production level. Replication, Auto-scaling, Load Balancing, Traffic Routing, Monitoring container health does not come out of the box with Docker and Docker-Compose. For managing containers and microservices architecture at scale, you need a Container Orchestration tool like ECS or EKS.  

Also, we did not use any Docker Repository to store our Nodejs app Docker Image. You can use AWS ECR, a fully managed AWS container registry offering high-performance hosting.

amazon ecs vs eks

Conclusion

To deploy Nodejs app to AWS does not mean just creating a Nodejs application and deploying it on the AWS EC2 Instance with a self-managed database. There are various aspects like Containerizing the Nodejs App, SSL Termination, Domain for the app that come into the picture when you want to speed up your Software Development, Deployment, Security, Reliability, Data Redundancy.

In this article, we saw the steps to dockerize the sample Nodejs application, use AWS RDS Amazon Aurora and deploy Nodejs app to ec2 instance using Docker and Docker-Compose. We enabled SSL termination to our sub-domain to be used to access the Nodejs application. We saw the steps to automate domain validation and SSL certificate creation using Certbot along with a way to automate certificate renewal that is valid for 90 days.

This is enough to get started with a sample Nodejs application; however, when it comes to managing your real-time applications, 100s of microservices, 1000s of containers, volumes, networking, secrets, egress-ingress, you need a Container Orchestration tool. There are various tools like self-hosted Kubernetes, AWS ECS, AWS EKS that you can leverage to manage the container life cycle in your real-world applications.

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FAQs

Why do we need to deploy Nodejs app to AWS using Nginx?

To deploy Nodejs app to AWS with SSL Termination requires changes in the code of the Nodejs. So, rather than making HTTPS configuration in the code and managing it on our own and being worried about it, it is better to use Nginx that can be used for the SSL termination and can act as a Reverse proxy to redirect requests to our Nodejs application. 

Why do we need to use the SSL Termination for our Nodejs application?

When communication takes place between a client and a server, i.e. between the browser and the Nodejs application, over the insecure connection, there are high chances of data theft, attacks on the server. To overcome such risks, it is always recommended to enable SSL Termination and communicate over a secured connection.

Why do we need to use a Container Orchestration Tool to manage our containers?

Managing a few containers using docker CLI, or managing 10s of containers using docker-compose is fine. This does stand true when you have 100s and 1000s of micro-services, containers on multiple environments like Dev, QA, Staging, Prod. To not only manage containers but log management, monitoring, networking, load balancing, testing, and secrets management you need some kind of tool called a Container Orchestrator. There are various Container Orchestration tools like ECS or EKS that can help you manage your containers and other moving parts.

Can I deploy a Nodejs application on any other Cloud than AWS or Do I need to deploy Nodejs app to AWS?

Yes, of course. You can deploy your Nodejs app on any Cloud. However, while choosing a Cloud provider there are a few areas of consideration as follows that one must think of.
Certifications & Standards.
Global Infrastructure
Data redundancy:
Low Latency Content Delivery:
Affordable Compute, Network and Storage solutions
Pricing model
Technologies & Service Roadmap
​​Contracts, Commercials & SLAs

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