Infrastructure as code, IaC is an approach for provisioning and managing server resources we call it infrastructure and using configuration file or script.
Before infrastructure as code is introduced, we were configuring infrastructure manually to run our application; we need to install necessary software packages, dependencies and tools, after that we need to configure it based on our application stack, so let’s have a look.

Table of Contents

What is Infrastructure as a Code?

    Write a code to manage and deploy IT infrastructure. Let me explain it with an example of Ruby on Rails application.

    • Create AWS ec2 instance, Setup Security Group, assign Elastic IP address to this instance
    • Configure Load-Balancer and Autoscaling Group.
    • Login into instance add ssh keys
    • Install RVM(RubyVersionManager) than required Ruby Version
    • Install node, GitHub, yarn, and other dependencies
    • Install bundler for gem installation
    • Install Ruby Gems
    • Database Engine (MYSQL or POSTGRES) etc.
    • Add DB connection string to database.yml (DB configuration file)
    • Install and setup Nginx etc

    Phew!!!, Once everything is set up, then RubyOnRails application will be available for users, all of the above steps are performed after we set up cloud infrastructure in our case, we are using AWS.

    Let’s assume you have to Setup 100 different environments with the same configuration but different RubyOnRails Code, i.e., scalable then it will take several days.

    What if we can write a script or configuration file that not only setup project dependency, packages, tools but also create cloud Resource /Infrastructure for us.

    Not only create, but it will also upgrade, downgrade, reboot, stop AWS resources Holy smoke! Note that we can re-use the module of the configuration file, so no need to create a separate folder each time.

What are the Benefits of Infrastructure as a Code?

Speed and simplicity

IaC allows you spin up the infrastructure architecture by simply running a script. So apart from deploying it on virtual servers, it enables us to launch on storage systems, network infrastructure, pre-configured databases, load balancers, and other significant cloud services that you might need.

Configuration consistency

IaC fully standardizes the setup of infrastructure, so error possibility can be reduced. It also lessens the chances of incompatibility and helps your application to run more smoothly.

Minimization of risk

It happens when your lead manager is the only one who is familiar with the ins and outs of your application infrastructure setup. If that lead is leaving your organization, then there might be a bunch of problems that you have to face and get it done from your end. In such cases, IaC automates the process and tracks every change of your server. The best thing is such configurations can be tested similar to code.

Increased efficiency in software development

Software developers have accepted from their end that productivity has improved after the use of IaC. Because cloud architectures make the software development cycle much more competent. IaC allows using continuous integration, and continuous deployment techniques to eliminate human errors.

Cost savings

Automating the deployment process allows programmers to spend more time in executing higher-value tasks instead of performing the manual process. And because of this productivity increase, so, organizations can save more money developer’s salaries as well as hiring costs. As mentioned earlier, IaC automates to spin down the environment and helps to save on cloud computing costs.

What are the Best Tools Cloud Infrastructure Automation?

    • Terraform
    • CloudFormation
    • Heat
    • Ansible
    • Chef, Puppet, and others

    Ansible, Chef, Puppet are configuration management tools that allow you to install and manage software on existing servers.

    Terraform, CloudFormation is the orchestration tool, which basically means they can provide the servers and infrastructure by themselves.

Which Tool to choose?

    • Is your infrastructure going to be vendor-specific in the longer-term? Example AWS.
    • Are you planning to have a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud-based infrastructure?
    • How well does it integrate with configuration management tools?
    • Price and Support

Terraform is an open-source tool also known as a code software tool that helps to build, change, and version infrastructure securely as well as efficiently. HashiCrop created Terraform to manage present as well as popular service along with custom in-house solutions.

The majority of the developers are facing the issue with different environments for testing code and performance, like Staging, Development, and Production.

Devs making changes on a development server as they install some dependency and packages and forgot to install the same on the QA server. Some of the functionalities stop working on QA; let’s say image upload is not working appropriately and the significant reason is due to a missing dependency.

To overcome such issues instead of manually installing the dependency, we can write them on Infrastructure code so next time at the time of execution, it will automatically install the available environment.


Why Terraform?

    • Free!!!
    • Support multiple platforms currently it has 75+ providers
    • Simple configuration language and faster learning curve.
    • Easy integration with a configuration management tool like ansible
    • Easily extensible with the help of plugins

Wrapping Up

DevOps engineering is about practices and culture. Terraform’s aim is to manipulate developer burden with tools; writing bash script for provision infrastructure is still in practice but tools, like terraform, are more popular because of its simplicity in syntax is much easier to write and read. If, in the future, if you are planning to create an infrastructure on AWS, resist the temptation using GUI or AWS CLI. Happy Terraforming! With real-life experiences and best practices using terraform.

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