Is Terraform Still Useful? by@juxtathinka

Is Terraform Still Useful?

Terraform is an open source tool created by Hashicorp that helps you carry out these tasks with ease. Over the years more alternative tools have been developed to provide the features that Terraform has. The tool has 33.2K stars on Github and was set to release its new version v202207-1 on the 12th of July 2022. Terraform Cloud is a collaborative Software-as-a-service product created to help teams work together on the Terraform platform.
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Juxtathinka

Freelance Content Writer and Medical Student with a keen interest in the crypto world and everything tech.

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Introduction 

Management of infrastructure, your platforms and services that you provide on your platform might seem like overwhelming tasks to carry out on your own. Terraform is an open source tool created by Hashicorp that helps you carry out these tasks with ease: however, over the years more alternative tools have been developed. This leaves you and many other people with the same question, "Is Terraform Still Useful?" Today, I will be taking you on a journey of discovery on what Terraform is, why it is important and if it is still useful as a tool. That being said, let us get to the business of the day. 

What is Terraform?

Terraform is an infrastructure as a code tool that was released by Hashicorp in July 2014. Terraform is an open source tool that helps its users to create, change, manage and version infrastructure. In addition, you can manage a multi cloud system with only one workflow. You can also define infrastructure resources on human-readable configuration files that you can reuse, share and version.

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Terraform is a tool that has been used by DevOps engineers as well as over a thousand companies in the United States including Uber and Slack. Most of these organizations use Terraform to build infrastructure in their tech stacks, but that function barely covers the many uses of Terraform. You can use Terraform for setting up a self-service infrastructure model, demo testing and the creation of web applications. Terraform has many uses, but different tools have been created to provide the features that Terraform has. Despite these challenges, Terraform has 33.2K stars on Github and was set to release its new version v202207-1 on the 12th of July 2022.

How Terraform Works

Terraform works by building a graph database that gives users insight into resource dependencies. The tool generates an execution plan that allows you to see the sequence of steps that Terraform will take when a new setting is used or a change is made. Terraform can help you manage computing resources, DNS entries and Saas features. Terraform manages and creates these resources on cloud platforms and other services through application programming interfaces(APIs). Providers are used by Terraform to work with any platform or service through these APIs. The Terraform Community and Hashicorp have come together to provide more than 1700 providers to manage different resources and services.

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Apart from the numerous providers that Terraform has, Terraform has a core system. The core system of Terraform uses two input systems for infrastructure. The two input systems are the Terraform configuration and the Terraform state. The Terraform configuration is defined by the user: that means, you can define the resources that will be created or provisioned. The Terraform state is where Terraform keeps the up-to-date data on how the current infrastructure should appear. The Terraform core system takes in the input data and structures a plan for the work that should be done. The core system also figures out the necessary requirements for the creation and provision of infrastructure. The Terraform core system and providers work hand in hand to ensure that the Terraform tool works.

Terraform Cloud 

Terraform Cloud is a collaborative Software-as-a-service(Saas) product created to help teams work together on the Terraform platform. For example, if you were working on the regular Terraform plan and you needed changes made to a state file, you would implement these changes yourself and be responsible for the data stored. On Terraform Cloud, your data is secured at every step of data transmission and every desired change is implemented in a step-by-step manner. Team members need approval to implement changes and the order of team hierarchy is maintained. In addition, your state files are automatically stored with the option of versioning and retrieving them when you like.

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Terraform Cloud is well integrated into Terraform plans for maximum productivity and efficiency. There are different free and paid plans for you to choose from as an individual or organization. It is possible that you may be on different plans if you belong to different organizations. There are numerous features available for users on Terraform Cloud: these features depend on the plan subscriptions. The subscriptions range from $0 to $20, $70 and even more. If your team size is five or less, a free subscription may be best for your organization. Larger team sizes usually require a higher level subscription plan for ease of work and collaboration.

Why Is Terraform Important?

Terraform is a useful tool for individuals and organizations with many applications in the world of technology. Terraform is important to its users because of the value it provides: one way Terraform offers value to its users is in its modules. Terraform modules are containers for multiple resources that are used together in a configuration. These modules provide an easy way to package and reuse common code. This means that as a Terraform user, you can use modules to organize data into structural blocks for your team members. There is no need to replicate code as one single module can be reused for multiple resources.

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Terraform has an advantage over similar tools in that it provides multiple cloud deployment: not many infrastructure tools provide this feature. You can spread your infrastructure over multiple cloud servers without much inconvenience. There is also a higher chance that you can recover data lost on multiple cloud servers because fault tolerance is less limited than in single cloud servers. In addition, Terraform is designed to allow one configuration to be used to build large scale multi cloud infrastructure, reducing money and time costs of individually building cloud servers.

Alternatives to Terraform 

The main platforms which provide similar features known to Terraform users are:

Ansible: Ansible is an open source configuration management tool that is used by DevOps to scale automation. Ansible is a useful tool that automates relative or cumbersome tasks. You can also use Ansible to install services, add hosts and important applications to your cloud. Ansible provides similar features to Terraform like cloud infrastructure provisioning and configuration. However, Ansible is written in Python while Terraform is written in Hashicorp Configuration Language(HCL).

Kubernetes: Kubernetes is an open source system that is used to manage containerised applications across multiple hosts. The system which is also known as K8 includes inbuilt commands that help you deploy applications, make changes to your applications, scale your applications and monitor your applications. Kubernetes offers users easy automation of operations, infrastructure abstraction and service health monitoring. Even though K8 shares similarities with Terraform in being open source and agentless, it is a container tool unlike Terraform which is an infrastructure tool.

Pulumi: Pulumi is an open source infrastructure as a code tool that uses multiple programming languages to simplify provisioning and managing cloud resources.You can use Pulumi to build, deploy and manage infrastructure. With Pulumi, you can deploy applications on AWS, Kubernetes, Google Cloud, etc and even host live webinars. The edge Pulumi has over Terraform is that different popular programming languages like Python and Java script can be used instead of HCL.

Jenkins: Jenkins is an automation server with multiple plugins that are used for supporting the automation of different tasks. You can use Jenkins to implement CI/CD workflows which are known as pipelines. These pipelines automate testing of large code bases, look for defects in code bases, report defects in code bases and prepare code bases for deployment. Pipelines deploy these code bases to containers, cloud servers and virtual machines. Jenkins also supports multiple programming languages like C++ and PHP in addition to the Java language it is mainly built upon.

Cloud Foundry: Cloud Foundry is an open source Software as a service(Saas) that is used to deploy and scale applications without managing servers. You can use Cloud Foundry to deploy network apps and services: subsequently the cloud scales popular apps to handle more traffic. In addition, you can use Cloud Foundry to run apps on your computing infrastructure or infrastructure platforms like AWS, Azure, or OpenStack. Cloud Foundry is not as popular as Terraform, but the software offers unique features like application healthcare management, free distributed tracing, and free service discovery.

Is Terraform Still Useful?

Terraform is still a useful tool in the tech space because it offers some specific advantages over its competitors as an infrastructure tool. One reason why you should continue to use Terraform is the declarative style that it offers you as a user. The declarative style allows you to write code that is specific to the infrastructure changes that you desire. You also get the specific changes that you want, without alterations to the infrastructure. In addition, Terraform is very popular in the tech community, especially for DevOp engineers. The community that Terraform provides enables you to ask questions if you need help and build meaningful connections that can grow your business.

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One edge Terraform has over its competitors is its modular structure. Terraform modules make your work easier by helping you organize configuration, encapsulate configuration and provide consistency on your platform and services. The error rate is also reduced because the base code is designed to be copied and imported for multiple use cases. This is because Terraform modules do not give room for repetition. Another reason why you should continue using Terraform is that Terraform is agentless. This means that you do not have to install agent software on the servers that you want to configure. All you need to do is install Terraform and use the tool seamlessly. Terraform is therefore a useful and relevant tool that is beneficial to you and many other people in the tech space.

Conclusion 

In the course of this article, we have established some facts. Terraform is a useful open source tool that helps you manage your infrastructure with ease. Despite Terraform's features, there are some alternative tools used instead of the powerful tool. However, Terraform's modular structure, cloud, agentless nature and simplicity of use set the tool apart in a growing market of numerous competitors. That being said, if you want to use Terraform for your infrastructure and you need a guide on how to get started, go to the Terraform website or watch this You can also direct your questions to the Docs section of the Terraform website or the Hashicorp Twitter handle.

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