Managing scalable and complex cloud architectures can be a challenging task, especially when working with multiple server environments or different cloud providers at the same time. But even in smaller scenarios, manually managing cloud resources to ensure your digital product is always available and able to scale on demand is hard, especially when using the provider’s management console. In addition, ad hoc changes to your cloud infrastructure are hard to track, not reproducible, and even harder to debug.
Terraform is a powerful tool that allows you to create, change, and version cloud infrastructures with support for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. It eliminates the need to manually configure your cloud environment. Using Terraform, you can safely and predictably plan and deliver infrastructure as code.
This article will show you how powerful Terraform is as a tool for managing your cloud infrastructure and why you should use it for your next project.
What is Terraform & Why Use it?
Terraform is an open-source tool for cloud infrastructure management developed and maintained by HashiCorp. It builds on ideas from AWS’s CloudFormation, but additionally provides an abstraction layer that enables the integration of additional cloud providers and tools allowing it to work with many different types of cloud resources. At the core of Terraform lies a concept called “infrastructure-as-code”, in which cloud infrastructures are managed and provisioned through code instead of through manual processes.
Terraform provides a DSL (domain-specific language) called HCL (HashiCorp Configuration Language). This language allows cloud architects to express the desired state of their infrastructures in a text-based format, including all necessary resources, how to provision them, and their runtime configuration. To provision new cloud infrastructures or migrate existing ones, Terraform generates an execution plan of necessary changes by comparing the current state of the infrastructure with the state defined in a given HCL configuration and then modifies the infrastructure as per the execution plan without any manual involvement.
In addition to being reproducible and idempotent, meaning applying the same configuration multiple times will yield the same resulting infrastructure, Terraform configuration files are also portable and can be put under version control, just like other code. This allows for easy collaboration, straightforward versioning, and streamlined development with other team members.
Terraform vs. Other Cloud Management Tools
Terraform has a lot of features that make it a powerful tool for managing your resources. It has support for many cloud providers and there are already many community modules available to help with common tasks such as provisioning servers or configuring load balancers. In contrast to Amazon’s CloudFormation, Terraform does not only work with AWS, but with a large number of cloud providers, such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and even OpenStack. Terraform also offers a more developer-friendly and intuitive interface and a large community of experts due to it being open source. Some of the cross-provider features offered by Terraform include provisioning cloud resources, configuring networks and security groups, and automating application deployments to Kubernetes.
Key Considerations If You’re Considering to Adopt Terraform
Terraform is a great tool for deploying and managing cloud infrastructures. However, some points need to be considered before adopting Terraform as an infrastructure-as-code solution.
There are many benefits of using Terraform:
- The ability to scale infrastructure up and down as needed
- No need for on-premises hardware to store the state of your resources
- Easy integration with a magnitude of cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, etc.
But some constraints need to be taken into account when considering to adopt this technology:
- Terraform may not always have the latest updates or bug fixes available because it is an open source project
- It is difficult to get started with Terraform if you do not have previous experience with cloud providers, such as AWS or Azure
Conclusion: Become a Master of Your Cloud Infrastructure Using Terraform!
Terraform is a powerful tool that allows engineers to create, change, and version their infrastructure as it changes. It lets you create configurations for the resources that you want in your cloud architecture. Terraform then provisions and manages these resources on various cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Azure Resource Manager, or OpenStack. With Terraform you can easily manage your entire cloud infrastructure with minimal effort and without manual intervention.