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Infrastructure as Code: Almost Everything You Need to Knowby@asadfaizi
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Infrastructure as Code: Almost Everything You Need to Know

by Asad FaiziFebruary 28th, 2022
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Infrastructure as Code emerged to address this need by providing a scalable and extendible solution for infrastructure management through code. IaC is the logical choice to add infrastructure as a part of the DevOps process. It enables users to codify the infrastructure, making more standardized, modified, and shared configurations. It leads to more modular and reusable configurations that can be provisioned or managed without any manual intervention. It helps users easily standardize infrastructure by implementing standardized development practices and policies to the infrastructure configurations at the code level.

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The ever-changing consumer and market demands have led to rapid software development cycles, making infrastructure changes more common. Moreover, these rapid developments have brought a whole new dimension to software delivery requiring quick infrastructure changes as a part of the delivery process. Infrastructure as Code emerged to address this need by providing a scalable and extendible solution for infrastructure management through code.

What is IaC?

Infrastructure as Code is managing and provisioning infrastructure through code instead of managing them manually. It enables users to codify the infrastructure, making more standardized, modified, and shared configurations. Additionally, IaC allows to include infrastructure configurations in a version-controlled mechanism, same as for the application code, and manage them in an auditable and trackable manner.


IaC is invaluable when it comes to automating infrastructure by defining infrastructure configurations as code. It leads to more modular and reusable configurations that can be provisioned or managed without any manual intervention.

How does IaC accelerate DevOps?

DevOps helped organizations and teams to build more collaborative and efficient development pipelines without sacrificing the quality of software products. IaC is the logical choice to add infrastructure as a part of the DevOps process.


IaC allows developers to integrate the infrastructure configurations as a part of the CI/CD pipeline following a similar workflow to the application development. There, users push the changes to the version-controlled repository, and these changes are validated and ultimately get deployed directly to the relevant environments through the CI/CD pipeline. This process not only leads to better collaboration between the infrastructure and the application development teams but also provides visibility to all the changes.


Furthermore, IaC provides better control over the infrastructure with trackable and auditable changes as well as easier rollbacks due to its ability to integrate with version control. Additionally, it helps users easily standardize infrastructure by implementing standardized development practices and policies to the infrastructure configurations at the code level. When all these are combined, IaC makes infrastructure a core part of the DevOps process.

IaC Tools

In this section, let’s have a look at some of the popular IaC tools available nowadays.


  • Terraform – A platform-agnostic IaC tool by HashiCorp with the ability to manage infrastructure on a wide variety of platforms from public cloud providers to container orchestration platforms, etc. Terraform can be used via its native Hashicorp Configuration language (HLC) or the common programming languages supported by the Cloud Development Kit for Terraform (CDKTF).


  • Pulumi – This tool provides a platform to manage your infrastructure using familiar programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, Go and C# without the need to learn a new language. Pulumi aims to provide a simpler experience to infrastructure management by extending support to Kubernetes and serverless platforms


  • Ansible – This Red-hat-backed software began its life as a configuration management tool but has now evolved into a complete IaC platform allowing users to control infrastructure using Ansible playbooks.


  • SaltStack – A Python-based automation tool that provides a dynamic communication bus that can be used for tasks such as infrastructure orchestration, remote execution, and configuration management.


  • Chef – This configuration management tool is a complete DevOps automation solution that can handle both infrastructure and application automation.


  • Cloud Provider Specific Options – All leading cloud providers have their own approach to IaC and tools specific to their environment. Each of these options provides users with various levels of infrastructure management capabilities.


    • CloudFormation for AWS
    • Azure Resource Manager Templates for Microsoft Azure
    • Deployment Manager for GCP

Terraform vs. Pulumi

Terraform and Pulumi are the leading open-source IaC solutions that provide platform-agnostic infrastructure management capabilities. Terraform is the more established platform with a larger community and support for a higher number of integrations than Pulumi.


Pulumi offers users the freedom to choose any supported programming language, while Terraform has a domain-specific language (DSL) called Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL). However, Terraform also aims to support common programming languages with its Cloud Development Kit for Terraform (CDKTF). The major difference between these two platforms is where the infrastructure state is located. In Terraform, the state files are stored locally with the option to store them in a backend provider such as Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage. In contrast, Pulumi requires users to register with an account, and by default, stores state files online with functions like detailed resource overviews and deployment history available through Pulumi. Even though similar functionality is available through Terraform Cloud, it is not required.


Both these tools are free to use yet with the managed solutions available from each provider. Terraform offers native integrations for other HashiCorp services such as Packer, Consul, and nomad as a part of the overall service offering by HashiCorp.

IaC and GitOps: How GitOps make IaC better

The growing trend of GitOps, where infrastructure is managed as declarative configurations through Git repositories, goes hand in hand with IaC. Declarative infrastructure tools such as Terraform and Pulimi allow users to easily configure infrastructure managed as code through a GitOps pipeline.


As GitOps was initially targeted for Kubernetes, IaC can be integrated into Kubernetes cluster management to manage the underlying resources as well as the Cluster itself. With K8s configurations in YAML files and IaC in its files in a Git repo, both can become a part of a single GitOps pipeline for a more streamlined development and management experience. With IaC becoming commonplace, more and more cloud services and platforms offer some kind of IaC support through their existing tools or platform-specific tools. Thus GitOps with IaC can be applied to virtually any platform or service.

Conclusion

Infrastructure as Code is becoming the standard practice across the industry to manage infrastructure at any scale, from simple web applications to multi-region cloud developments. It allows developers to easily automate the management of any infrastructure resources as a part of the CI/CD pipeline, unifying the deviation between application and infrastructure development.


The next natural evolution of IaC is to embrace low or no-code tools. With the infrastructure configuration getting more complex than ever, tools like CloudPlex can be used to provide initiative drag and drop tools to generate infrastructure configurations such as YAML and Helm charts without the need for any coding. It greatly reduces the workload of a developer, and you can try it out for yourself by creating a free account on cloudplex.


Asad Faizi

Founder CEO

CloudPlex.io, Inc

[email protected]