Tools for managing AWS cloud services

The Right Button

Keyboard Aficionados

Up to now, the AWS Management Console has been the focus, but it is not always the fastest way to manage the Amazon cloud, especially if you are dealing with multiple accounts, regions, and roles. Therefore, in this second section, I look at command-line tools, SDKs, toolkits for integrated development environments, and automation through Infrastructure as Code.

CLIs let you to manage and script AWS services from the terminal. The CLI is directly available in the Management Console in the form of AWS CloudShell – or easily installed in any other environment. This browser-based command-line environment helps you securely manage, explore, and interact with your AWS resources.

The CLI is pre-authenticated with your permissions from the Management Console, and popular development and operational tools are already installed, removing the need for local installation or configuration. CloudShell lets you run scripts from the AWS CLI, experiment with AWS service APIs with the help of AWS SDKs, or use a variety of other tools to work more efficiently.


In the AWS Management Console, launch CloudShell by typing cloudshell in the search box and then selecting the CloudShell option (Figure 3A). Next, select the CloudShell icon at top right in the menubar (small box with > symbol; Figure 3B). To select an AWS region, go to the bottom panel and choose a supported AWS region (Figure 3C); the available regions are highlighted. Now select a preinstalled shell by entering it at the command prompt: bash (the default), pwsh, or zsh. The Actions item in the CloudShell menu (Figure 3D) lets you change the layout, upload and download files, and restart or reset the CloudShell.

Figure 3: AWS CloudShell is easily customized to suit your needs.

Installing the AWS CLI

The AWS CLI is a unified tool for managing your AWS services. With just one piece of software that you can download and configure, you can control multiple AWS services at the command line and automate them with scripts. To interact with AWS through the CLI outside of CloudShell (e.g., on your laptop), you need to configure the credentials for API calls. I will also look at how you can set up multiple profiles to access more than one AWS account, either with additional credentials or by IAM role changes.

Depending on your operating system or preference for using containers, you have several ways to install the CLI. Always follow the latest instructions for installing version 2 of the AWS CLI [5]. After the install, type

$ aws -version
  aws-cli/2.2.17 Python/3.9.6 Darwin/20.5.0 source/x86_64 prompt/off

The version numbers here are just by way of an example, of course.

The CLI is now installed. You can try to run a command, for example:

aws ec2 describe-vpcs

However, because your login information is still missing, an error message will pop up.

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