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Emmanuel Awotunde
Emmanuel Awotunde

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Easy Deployment Setup With Bitbucket and AWS ECS

Deployment is one of the most important parts of product development and launch. The better the deployment process is the faster it is. There are many deployment tools that make things easier today.

In this article, I will take you through a deployment setup with Bitbucket and AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS).


  • Basic knowledge of git version control
  • Basic knowledge of Docker
  • An AWS account
  • A Bitbucket account

Bitbucket is a web-based version control repository hosting service owned by Atlassian. They have built-in Continuous Integration and Delivery/Deployment (CI/CD).

We'll deploy a simple express app. Let's generate an express app

npx express-generator
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If you don't have npx, you can install express-generator globally

npm install -g express-generator
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Now we have our express app, let's create a docker file that we would use for deployment

touch Dockerfile
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Copy this and paste in your Dockerfile

FROM node:8-alpine
WORKDIR /usr/src/app
COPY package*.json ./
RUN npm install
COPY . .
CMD [ "npm", "start" ]
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Login to your AWS account and navigate to ECS.

AWS ECS Home page

Navigate to Repositories under Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR).

AWS ECR is a container registry for docker. It's similar to Docker Hub. Container registries are used to store and distribute docker images.

Create a repository by clicking the 'Create repository' button then give it a name like my-express-app.


Now we have our repository URI:

Pushing to AWS ECR

We will build our docker image and push it to our newly created repository on ECR.
For this article, we'll use docker build. If you have a more complex project setup, you may want to consider docker-compose

cd into the folder where the Dockerfile is and run

docker build -t my-express-app .
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If the command ran well, you should have this:

Run docker build

To push the image to ECR, you have to first install aws cli tool.

Run aws2 configure to enter your AWS access ID and secret access key. Once you're done, run this command:

$(aws2 ecr get-login --no-include-email --region us-east-1)
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Then push the docker image. For the --region option, put your own region.

docker tag my-express-app:latest
docker push
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Setup ECS Cluster

Navigate to the Clusters page. Click Create Cluster.

Creating a cluster

We will use EC2 Linux + Networking.

You can use the following configuration to create the cluster:

  • Give your cluster a name.
  • Create an empty cluster: Unchecked
  • Provisioning Model: On-Demand Instance
  • EC2 instance type: t2.nano (You can use whatever will fit your application needs)
  • Number of instances: 1
  • EC2 Ami Id: Amazon Linux 2 AMI [ami-08b26b905b0d17561]
  • Root EBS Volume Size (GiB): 30
  • Key pair: You can create anyone and attach it. This is the key you can use to ssh into the ec2 instance.
  • Networking: You can create a new VPC or use an existing one.
    • Auto-assign public IP: Use subnet settings
    • Security group: Create a one that opens up port 80
  • CloudWatch Container Insights: Unchecked

Create an Application Load Balancer

An Application Load Balancer allows us to dynamically assign applications to routes using pattern matching. This will be used in the ECS Service

To create one, navigate to the load balancers tab on EC2 and click on Create Load Balancer

Create Load Balancer

Give it a name, fill the Availability Zones, and add a security group that exposes port 80 and 443 (if you want to enable SSL).

In Step 4: Configure Routing, you'd create a target group. You can skip Step 5.

Setup ECS Task Definition & Service

A task definition specifies the container information for our application. Navigate to Task Definitions and click on Create new Task Definition.

Select EC2 as launch type compatibility

Task definition

You can use the following configuration to create the task definition:

  • Task Definition Name: my-express-app
  • Task Role: Leave empty
  • Network Mode: default
  • Task memory (MiB): 128 (You can use whatever size that fits your application needs)
  • Task CPU (unit): 128 (You can use whatever size that fits your application needs)
  • Container: Click on Add container
    • Container name: my-express-app
    • Image:
    • Port mappings: Host - 0, Container port: 3000
    • Configure the remaining to fit your application needs
    • You can enable Log configuration so you can view the application logs on CloudWatch.

Once you're done, click on Create. Next, we'll create a Service.
A service lets you specify how many copies of your task definition to run and maintain in a cluster.

Click the Actions dropdown and select Create Service

Creating an ecs service

You can use the following configuration to create the service:

  • Launch type: EC2
  • Task Definition: my-express-app
  • Cluster: my-express-app (or whatever cluster you created)
  • Service name: MyExpressAppService
  • Service type: Replica
  • Number of tasks: 1 (Or whatever number fits your application needs).
  • Minimum healthy percent: 100
  • Maximum percent: 200
  • Deployment type: Rolling update
  • Placement Templates: AZ Balanced Spread
  • Load balancing: Application Load Balancer
    • Load balancer name: Select the load balancer we created earlier
    • Container to load balance: Click on Add to load balancer
    • Select the target group we created earlier or create a new one here
  • Use default in the remaining steps or configure to your application needs

Once the service is created, it'll run the task in the cluster.

Setup CD with Bitbucket

We are going to create a new repository on Bitbucket. You can name it anything. I named mine my-express-app.

Creating bitbucket repository

Automated CI/CD comes built-in with Bitbucket. To enable it, navigate to Repository Settings > Pipelines > Settings and switch it on.

Bitbucket pipeline file

Bitbucket uses a file named: bitbucket-pipelines.yml for automating CI/CD. Create the file.

    push-image: &push-image
      name: Build and Push Docker Image
      image: atlassian/pipelines-awscli
        - docker
        - docker
        - export DOCKER_URI=$DOCKER_IMAGE_URL:latest
        # Login to docker registry on AWS
        - eval $(aws ecr get-login --no-include-email)
        # Build image
        - docker build -t $DOCKER_URI .
        # Push image to private registry
        - docker push $DOCKER_URI

    deploy-to-ecs: &deploy-to-ecs
      name: Deploy to ECS
      image: atlassian/pipelines-awscli
        - pipe: atlassian/aws-ecs-deploy:1.1.0
            CLUSTER_NAME: 'my-express-app'
            SERVICE_NAME: 'MyExpressAppService'
            TASK_DEFINITION: "task-definition.json"

      - step: *push-image
      - step: *deploy-to-ecs

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You'd notice TASK_DEFINITION. This is needed to update the ECS service for deployment. So let's create one:

touch task-definition.json
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Paste this in the task definition file

  "containerDefinitions": [
      "logConfiguration": {
        "logDriver": "awslogs",
        "options": {
          "awslogs-group": "/ecs/my-express-app",
          "awslogs-region": "us-east-1", // use your own region
          "awslogs-stream-prefix": "ecs"
      "portMappings": [
          "hostPort": 0,
          "protocol": "tcp",
          "containerPort": 3000
      "cpu": 0,
      "image": "",
      "essential": true,
      "name": "my-express-app"
  "memory": "128",
  "family": "my-express-app",
  "requiresCompatibilities": ["EC2"],
  "cpu": "128"
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Now we need to put the following environment variables on our bitbucket repository:


Navigate to Repository Settings > Repository variables >
Bitbucket repository variables

Once you add them, commit and push to bitbucket to trigger the pipeline and the deployment process is run.

The following things occur:

  • The docker image is built and pushed to the AWS ECR repository you created
  • The task definition is updated with the task-definition.json file
  • The service (MyExpressAppService) is updated
  • The service automatically registers a new instance of the task and begins draining the old task running
  • The new task is dynamically registered on the Application Load Balancer

You can check the full bitbucket repository here

Top comments (4)

faridhajnal profile image
Farid Hajnal

This article is amazing! I was able to run a project with minor adjustments to your instructions! A heads up for other people that might face the issue: if you are trying to use "environmentFiles" instead of "environment" for your container, you would need a newer version of the "aws-ecs-deploy". This might be also needed for other keys that can be added to the task definition. At the time of me writing this, latest version is "1.6.0". Updated the bitbucket pipelines file with that version and "environmentFiles" for my task worked with no issues :D
Thanks for the awesome article!

olaoluwa98 profile image
Emmanuel Awotunde

I'm glad you found the article useful and thanks for the addition!

jeyarajcs profile image

Is it possible to deploy code to multiple service in single step?
Ex : wildcard service name or Array of service names?

olaoluwa98 profile image
Emmanuel Awotunde

Yes it's possible. You can define multiple services similar to deploy-to-ecs (the one in the article). As long as your service definition is valid, you're good to go.