January 13, 2023

What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

Alistair Heys

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an approach to managing and provisioning infrastructure resources in a programmable and automated manner using code, typically in the form of scripts or configuration files. It treats infrastructure setups, including servers, networks, and storage, as software-defined entities, enabling organizations to manage their infrastructure using the same principles and practices as software development.

In traditional infrastructure management, system administrators manually configure and manage the infrastructure components. This manual approach can be time-consuming, error-prone, and difficult to reproduce consistently across different environments. Infrastructure as Code, on the other hand, brings the benefits of automation, version control, and collaboration to infrastructure management.

Terraform has become the de facto standard for infrastructure as code, but a few others are Pulumi, AWS CloudFormation, and Azure Resource Manager.

Here are some key reasons why Infrastructure as Code is useful:

1. Automation: By representing infrastructure configurations as code, IaC allows for automation of the provisioning and management processes. This eliminates manual and repetitive tasks, reduces human error, and ensures consistency across environments.

2. Reproducibility: IaC provides a reliable and reproducible way to create and manage infrastructure. With code-based configurations, you can easily recreate and deploy infrastructure setups in multiple environments, such as development, staging, and production, ensuring consistency throughout the application lifecycle.

3. Scalability Infrastructure: as Code enables the ability to scale infrastructure resources up or down as needed. By defining infrastructure in code, you can easily modify configurations to accommodate changes in workload or user demand, allowing for flexible and efficient resource allocation.

4. Version control: Treating infrastructure as code enables the use of version control systems like Git. This allows you to track changes, roll back to previous versions, collaborate with teams, and apply best practices for code review and documentation.

5. Collaboration: IaC facilitates collaboration among teams, such as developers, system administrators, and operations personnel. Infrastructure configurations can be shared, reviewed, and modified as necessary, enabling cross-functional teams to work together more effectively.

6. Portability: With Infrastructure as Code, infrastructure configurations can be abstracted from the underlying infrastructure provider. This abstraction allows you to switch between different cloud providers or deploy on-premises, making it easier to adopt multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategies.

7. Auditing and compliance: By having infrastructure configurations stored as code, organizations can easily audit and track changes made to the infrastructure. This helps ensure compliance with security policies, regulatory requirements, and industry standards.

Overall, Infrastructure as Code promotes agility, reliability, and scalability in infrastructure management. It aligns infrastructure provisioning and management with modern software development practices, enabling organizations to treat infrastructure as a programmable and manageable asset.

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Note: While this blog references Terraform, everything mentioned in here also applies to OpenTofu. New to OpenTofu? It is a fork of Terraform 1.5.7 as a result of the license change from MPL to BUSL by HashiCorp. OpenTofu is an open-source alternative to Terraform that is governed by the Linux Foundation. All features available in Terraform 1.5.7 or earlier are also available in OpenTofu. Find out the history of OpenTofu here.

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