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Deploying from Atlas Cloud

In the past, we have recommended users to build a migrations Docker image as part of their CI pipeline and then use that image during their deployment process. This is still a valid approach, as it bundles together the Atlas binary needed to run migrations with the migrations themselves. However, over the last year we have received feedback from many users that this approach is cumbersome and requires a lot of boilerplate code to be written.

To address this, we have introduced a new way to deploy migrations directly from Atlas Cloud.

On a high-level this approach works as follows:

  1. Users sync their migration directory to Atlas Cloud whenever you push new code to your mainline branch.
  2. Migrations are executed directly from Atlas Cloud during deployment.

This guide shows you how to set up this approach for your project.


  1. An Atlas Cloud account with administrator access. (If you don't have an account, you can sign up for free.)
  2. Sync your migration directory from GitHub to your Atlas Cloud account. (See Syncing Migration Directories for more information.)
  3. A token for an Atlas Cloud Bot user with permissions report CI/CD runs and read the migration directory. (See Creating a Bot User for more information.

Deploying migrations from Atlas Cloud

Once your migration directory is synced to Atlas Cloud, you can deploy them using the atlas CLI.

To get started, create a project configuration file named atlas.hcl:

variable "cloud_token" {
type = string
default = getenv("ATLAS_TOKEN")

atlas {
cloud {
token = var.cloud_token

env {
name = atlas.env
url = getenv("DATABASE_URL")
migration {
dir = "atlas://<name of dir>"

Let's review what this configuration file does:

  1. The cloud_token variable is used to authenticate with Atlas Cloud. You can either set this variable in your environment or pass it in as a command line argument.
  2. The atlas block sets global configuration for Atlas. In this case, we are setting Atlas to work against Atlas Cloud, using the token we defined in the previous step.
  3. We define an environment using the env block. To avoid setting database credentials in the configuration file, we use the DATABASE_URL environment variable.
  4. To fetch the migration directory from Atlas Cloud we use the atlas://<name of dir> URL in the migration.dir field. The name is the same as the name you used when you synced your migration directory.

Running migrations from Atlas Cloud

Once you have created your configuration file, you can run migrations from Atlas Cloud using the atlas CLI using the following commands:

export ATLAS_TOKEN=<your token>
export DATABASE_URL=<your database url>
atlas migrate apply --env <env name>

Let's review what these commands do:

  1. We set the ATLAS_TOKEN environment variable to the token we created earlier.
  2. We set the DATABASE_URL environment variable to the URL of the database we want to run migrations against.
  3. We run the atlas migrate apply command to apply migrations to the database. The --env flag is used to specify the name of the environment we defined in the configuration file.

The atlas migrate apply command will run all migrations that have not been applied to the database yet:

Migrating to version 20230306221009 (1 migrations in total):

-- migrating version 20230306221009
-> create table users (
id int primary key
-- ok (8.60933ms)

-- 68.037117ms
-- 1 migrations
-- 1 sql statements

Viewing migrations in Atlas Cloud

After the migrations have been applied, you can view them in Atlas Cloud by heading to the /deployments page in your Atlas Cloud account. You should see a new deployment with the name of the environment you specified in the configuration file. Clicking on the deployment will show you the details of the deployment, including the migrations that were applied: