What are the best practices for deploying a Django application on AWS Elastic Beanstalk?

12 June 2024

When developing a Django application, you are likely to encounter a range of challenges, especially when it comes to deployment. For instance, the environment setup can be a complex process, requiring a careful balance between functionality and security. Fortunately, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a solution to simplify this process - Elastic Beanstalk. This tool automates the environment setup for your application, making deployment a seamless process. This article aims to assist you in effectively leveraging AWS Elastic Beanstalk for your Django application deployment.

Setting Up Django Application for AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Before we dive into the specifics of the Elastic Beanstalk deployment, let's make sure your Django application is set up correctly. The Django framework, built with Python, is designed to help developers create complex, database-driven websites with ease. Therefore, ensuring that your Django application is correctly set up is crucial for successful deployment.

Firstly, you'll need to create a virtual environment for your Django application. This will keep your app's dependencies isolated from other Python projects. This can be done using the following command:

python3 -m venv env

Next, activate the environment and install Django:

source env/bin/activate

pip install django

After Django is installed, create your Django project:

django-admin startproject myproject

Then, migrate your database settings:

python manage.py migrate

This sets up your Django application, ready for AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Incorporating AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Amazon Web Services' Elastic Beanstalk is a potent tool that can handle the deployment, from capacity provisioning, load balancing, and automatic scaling to application health monitoring. It offers developers the freedom to focus on writing their codes without worrying about the application's deployment and infrastructure.

To get started with Elastic Beanstalk, you need to install the Elastic Beanstalk Command Line Interface (EB CLI) on your local system.

pip install awsebcli

The next step is to create an Elastic Beanstalk Python environment. The command below will help you set it up:

eb init -p python-3.6 django-app --region us-west-2

This will create a new application named 'django-app'.

Configuration and Settings

When deploying your Django application to AWS Elastic Beanstalk, it's important to define your settings and configuration files correctly.
The first configuration file you need to tackle is the '.ebextensions/django.config'. This file will tell Elastic Beanstalk to handle your Django application's WSGI settings.

Create a directory named '.ebextensions' and add a 'django.config' file in it with the following content:

    WSGIPath: yourprojectname/wsgi.py

The WSGIPath should point to your Django application's WSGI file.

Next, make sure your Django settings file is set up correctly. In your 'settings.py' file, add the following:

import os
if 'RDS_HOSTNAME' in os.environ:
        'default': {
            'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
            'NAME': os.environ['RDS_DB_NAME'],
            'USER': os.environ['RDS_USERNAME'],
            'PASSWORD': os.environ['RDS_PASSWORD'],
            'HOST': os.environ['RDS_HOSTNAME'],
            'PORT': os.environ['RDS_PORT'],

This will ensure that your Django application uses the correct database settings when it's running on AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Adding a Cache Layer

Caching is essential for speed and performance. AWS ElastiCache offers fully managed Redis and Memcached. When integrated with your Django application, it can significantly improve load speeds and reduce the load on your database by caching frequently accessed data.

To set up ElastiCache with your Django application, add the following settings to your 'settings.py' file:

    'default': {
        'BACKEND': 'django.core.cache.backends.memcached.MemcachedCache',
        'LOCATION': '<elasticache-endpoint>:11211',

You can obtain the <elasticache-endpoint> from your AWS ElastiCache dashboard.

Deploying Your Django Application

Once your Django application is set up and the AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment is ready, it's time to deploy your application. With Elastic Beanstalk, you can do this with just one command:

eb create django-env

This command will create an environment named 'django-env' and will start the deployment process.

Remember, effective deployment on AWS Elastic Beanstalk starts with a well-configured Django application. Whether it's creating an isolated Python environment, setting up AWS Elastic Beanstalk, or configuring the settings and adding a cache layer, each step is crucial for successful deployment.

Working with Static Files in AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Static files are an essential component of most Django applications. They include CSS, Javascript, and image files that help in styling and functionality. When deploying your Django application on AWS Elastic Beanstalk, it's crucial to configure your static files correctly.

To begin, you need to tell Django where your static files are located. You can do this by setting the STATIC_URL variable in your 'settings.py' file:

STATIC_URL = '/static/'

Next, you need to instruct Django to collect all your static files in one location when running the python manage.py collectstatic command. Add the STATIC_ROOT variable in your 'settings.py' file:

import os
STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'static')

This command will collect all your static files into the directory specified by STATIC_ROOT.

However, serving static files in a production environment using Django is not efficient. AWS provides the S3 bucket service to help with this. You can use it to store your static files and serve them efficiently.

First, create an S3 bucket on AWS. Then, install the django-storages and boto3 libraries in your Django app:

pip install django-storages boto3

Next, add 'storages' to your INSTALLED_APPS in your 'settings.py' file. Configure your AWS access key, secret access key, and S3 bucket name as environment variables:


Set your STATICFILES_STORAGE setting to the S3 backend provided by django-storages:

STATICFILES_STORAGE = 'storages.backends.s3boto3.S3Boto3Storage'

Now, Django will automatically upload your static files to your S3 bucket when you run python manage.py collectstatic.

Deploying a Django application on AWS Elastic Beanstalk involves several steps that require careful attention to detail. Starting with setting up a suitable Django application environment, you need to ensure your application is well-configured for the Elastic Beanstalk deployment.

This involves setting up your Django project in a virtual environment, installing the necessary dependencies, and migrating your database settings with python manage.py migrate. Configuring AWS Elastic Beanstalk comes next, which includes installing the Elastic Beanstalk Command Line Interface (EB CLI), creating a new Beanstalk environment, and ensuring proper handling of your Django application's WSGI settings.

Adding a cache layer with AWS ElastiCache improves your application's load speed, reducing strain on your database by caching frequently accessed data. Lastly, serving static files through S3 buckets enhances your application's performance and user experience.

After following these best practices, you can deploy your Django application on AWS Elastic Beanstalk confidently. Remember, each step is crucial in this process, and skipping or incorrectly performing a step can lead to unsuccessful deployment.

In conclusion, AWS Elastic Beanstalk offers a reliable, efficient, and automated solution for deploying Django applications. Its ability to manage all infrastructure, from capacity provisioning, load balancing, automatic scaling to application health monitoring, enables developers to focus on writing robust codes rather than worrying about deployment and infrastructure tasks.