Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a new and exciting way to manage infrastructure that’s gaining popularity. In this article, I’ll explore what it is, why it matters, and I’ll share some existing tools and frameworks that could help your organization leverage this practice.
What is IaC?
Essentially, IaC is a method of provisioning and managing infrastructure using code and automation, rather than manual on-the-infra configuration. This allows for a more efficient and consistent management of resources and might help reduce the risk of errors and inconsistencies.
It’s like the blueprints for building a house
An analogy for infrastructure as code might be a set of blueprints for building a house. Just as blueprints are used to guide the construction of a physical structure, IaC is used to guide the provisioning and management of an organization's IT infrastructure.
In the same way that blueprints specify the materials, dimensions, and layout of a house, IaC scripts specify the resources, configurations, and dependencies of an IT infrastructure. Just as a builder uses blueprints to construct a house, IT professionals use IaC to provision and manage resources in a consistent and automated way.
Just as a blueprint can be reviewed and modified by architects and engineers, IaC scripts can be reviewed and modified by IT professionals to ensure they are accurate, secure, and meet the organization's requirements. And similar to how a blueprint is used to build multiple houses, IaC can be used to provision and manage multiple infrastructure deployments, allowing for consistency and scalability.
And again, just like a blueprint, IaC also allows to go back and track changes, rollback to previous version if needed, and also to reproduce the same infrastructure at different locations.
The origins of Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
The origins of IaC can be traced back to the early days of cloud computing, when organizations first started moving their workloads to the cloud. At the time, the process of provisioning and managing resources in the cloud was largely manual and time-consuming. IT professionals would get into the cloud provider's web console and manually hand-cranking resources such as virtual machines, storage, and networking.
As organizations began to rely more heavily on cloud resources, the manual process of provisioning and managing these resources became increasingly complex and error prone. It also became more difficult to ensure consistency and compliance across multiple deployments.
To address these challenges, IT professionals began to explore ways to automate the provisioning and management of cloud resources. One of the earliest approaches was to use simple scripts to automate the process of creating and configuring resources in the cloud. These scripts, which were often a collection of shell scripts (Bash or PowerShell), were used to automate repetitive tasks such as creating virtual machines (VM) and configuring storage and networking.
Over time, the concept of IaC has evolved to include not just cloud resources, but also on-premises infrastructure, and other platforms. Today, IaC is widely adopted across many organizations, as it helps to improve the efficiency and consistency of IT operations, and allows teams to manage, scale and secure their infrastructure in a more automated and efficient way.
Effective Tools and Frameworks
When it comes to using IaC with AWS or Azure, there are several tools and frameworks that can be used to effectively provision and manage resources in a more consistent and automated way. Some popular options include:
This is an AWS-native tool that allows you to provision and manage AWS resources using templates written in JSON or YAML. CloudFormation supports many resource types and can be used to create and update stacks of resources in an automated and repeatable way.
Azure Resource Manager (ARM)
ARM is the native IaC tool for Azure and allows you to provision and manage Azure resources using templates written in JSON. ARM supports many resource types and can be used to create and update resource groups in an automated and repeatable way. Now you can use Bicep instead of JSON to develop your Azure Resource Manager templates (ARM templates). Bicep uses a simplified, more intuitive syntax that is easier to read and write compared to ARM templates, which use JSON or YAML . This makes it easier to create, manage and deploy Azure resources.
This is a popular open-source tool that allows you to provision and manage resources across multiple cloud providers, including AWS and Azure. Terraform uses a domain-specific language (DSL) to describe resources and can be used to create, update, and delete resources in an automated and repeatable way.
The road ahead fo IaC
As more companies deploy their infrastructure to cloud, be it single or multiple cloud providers, there will be an increasing focus on automating infrastructure deployment and management, code tools and monitoring capabilities to better manage their infrastructure. Securing infrastructure and adhering to prevalent security standards will also be the following focus.
This space will continue to evolve and being updated with the latest development would be key to maximizing the opportunities IaC can offer. If there are specific interests with regards to Infrastructure as Code, write me at my email and I'll be more than happy to get in touch.