Infrastructure as code tools, or IAC, has been disruptive in the way IT infrastructure is set up and managed since its debut more than a decade ago. Today, software may be used to create more performance-efficient, cost-effective, and secure infrastructure. Furthermore, owing to the transition away from legacy change management, teams can now roll out carefully verified, yet entirely unattended, new processes in minutes rather than days by adopting uniform procedures for provisioning and updating systems as well as their configuration. The abundance of cloud services and infrastructure tools alternatives makes IAC even more interesting to developers. Because infrastructure as code is used, IT infrastructure may be provided entirely from source code rather than manually.
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IAC enables total infrastructure automation and setup, with cloud elements like servers, networks, and databases treated identically to software. Development teams can embrace a variety of DevOps and Agile approaches that encourage quick, quality workflow along the technology value stream by treating infrastructure as software and data. Best practices such as continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and test-driven development can be used by teams (TDD). Organizations may also improve and increase the integrity and fault tolerance of their systems by optimizing the usage of deployment orchestration, automated testing libraries, and version control systems (VCS). Because of the practice’s rapid expansion, infrastructure as a code tools are now more accessible thanks to a full set of tools for automating the whole provisioning process. This article discusses a number of various cloud platform solutions for even the most demanding business-critical situations.
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1. AWS CloudFormation
We can’t discuss IAC tools without including AWS CloudFormation. The AWS is considered the best infrastructure as code tool. The integrated service is intended for users who work in the AWS Cloud. Given that AWS is still one of the most popular cloud environments on the market, it’s no surprise that over 350,000 developers utilize CloudFormation. This year, it is also able to provide 342 AWS resource types. Users may model their infrastructure using CloudFormation using a JSON or YAML template file.
The service also includes automated options to assist with resource deployment in a repeatable and controllable manner, and you only pay for the resources utilized, not the service itself. CloudFormation will handle the remainder of the tasks after the template is customized to your application parameters. The usage of plaintext is especially useful. As previously stated, YAML and JSON are both supported, and the various CloudFormation templates make it simple to build a secure infrastructure architecture of any complexity level.
2. Azure Resource Manager
Microsoft’s IAC tool, Azure Resource Manager, is accessible for users, not to be surpassed by Amazon. It is one of the infrastructure as code tools that provides infrastructure and manages dependencies in a single continuous cycle using Azure Resource Manager templates (ARM templates). The resources that your template uses are declaratively stated in JSON, and you may specify several Azure resources in a single ARM template to create whole project environments. Because ARM templates are also idempotent, you can repeat the same template indefinitely and always receive the same results. Use a VSTS dashboard to visually monitor all of your builds and releases, as well as obtain a rapid snapshot of the general health of your environments and template quality. The Resource Manager also allows you to group server instances and manage them all from one place.
3. Google Cloud Deployment Manager
We also have Google Cloud Deployment Manager, which is an automated tool. The tool’s execution is based on configuration files (YAML) and templates (JINJA2 or PYTHON) hosted on the Google Cloud Platform. It also allows you to define and deploy resources synchronously. You have access to both Beta and Alpha features, as well as the ability to completely script all deployments with autoscaling and load balancing. Google CDM now allows previews, which means that rather than committing changes straight, you can get a heads-up on the effect of deployments and modifications. The functionality helps you to avoid human errors while also strengthening and stabilizing your overall infrastructure.
The previous three infrastructure as code tools have been built to operate with certain cloud environments, but this next one, Terraform, is not. Terraform is not only idempotent but also a multi-cloud sharp swiss army knife in the world of infrastructure as code tools. Terraform, created by HashiCorp (the same company that created Vault and Nomad), is totally cloud-agnostic and allows you to tackle huge infrastructure for sophisticated distributed applications with greater simplicity than working on a cloud-specific platform.
Terraform automation takes several forms and is choreographed to variable degrees, with the primary focus being on the plan/apply cycle. Some teams use wrapper scripts to build up a constant working directory for Terraform to execute. Other development teams use Terraform only within an orchestration tool like Jenkins. It is by far the most versatile tool on this list, but it may also be scary to begin with. Terraform, like Google CDM, enables modification and provisioning previews, as well as a robust set of functionality for duplicating deployments and individual server instances. Terraform then goes a step further with version control and remote states, which enable a centralized source of truth for distant teams collaborating.
Chef is a favorite IAC tool among CI/CD practitioners. The fact that Chef employs Ruby-based DSL is also a significant benefit. It enables ‘cookbook’ versioning from the start and helps you to preserve a consistent configuration—even when the infrastructure must keep up with the app’s rapid expansion. Chef’s configuration includes recipes and cookbooks, which are self-described terms for templates and collections of templates that may be used right away. One cookbook should be associated with a single job, but it can give a variety of server configurations depending on the resources involved (e.g., a web application with a database will have two recipes, one for each part, stored together). Chef integrates effectively with other infrastructure as code tools like Terraform and a variety of other cloud environments thanks to its support for cloud provisioning APIs.
Many people favor Chef, while those who work in a Red Hat environment like Ansible. It is a tool that was created with automation in mind from the beginning. Ansible focuses on delivering a “radically simple” configuration language, as well as the ability to control cloud instances immediately with no changes. It is also useful for arbitrary IT orchestration (e.g., zero downtime rolling updates, hotfixes, etc.) rather than configuration management. Instead of managing systems as isolated parts, you simply define how components—and the system as a whole—interact with one another, and Ansible will take care of the rest. Ansible is also one of the more adaptable infrastructure as code tools available today. You are not restricted to the capabilities it provides and may instead create your modules and routines to fulfill specific needs. It even features an appealing graphical user interface for configuration and monitoring.
Puppet offers a more comprehensive approach to IAC configuration and automation. Puppet manages data centers for multiple major corporations, including Reddit, Dell, and Google, and it operates on all operating systems. It also boasts one of the most sophisticated user interfaces on our list. It has been on the market for quite some time and uses Ruby-based DSL as the principal language for specifying the intended end state of the infrastructure. I used the term “end state” since it is what you must specify. Puppet will then determine the optimal route for you to accomplish that end state. It also monitors the infrastructure for deviations from the defined end state and automatically corrects any deviations. Thanks to extensive corporate and community support, this is a solution designed exclusively for system administrators. Choosing the greatest IAC tool is a matter of choosing one that best meets your preferences and demands. Consistency in how you use an IAC system and environmental awareness are two of the most critical factors in making it easy to use for you. Also, choose which programming language works best for you and your team. Choose what your team can best communicate in because you will be spending a lot of time—at least at first—writing content.
SaltStack is a Python-based open-source configuration management application that provides a simple solution for rapidly provisioning, deploying, and configuring infrastructure on any platform. SaltStack focuses on the organization’s infrastructure, security, and network automation. It is a simple IaC tool that is extremely helpful in the mitigation and remediation of common infrastructure faults. It is a safe and cost-effective IaC system that automates and orchestrates processes while reducing human labor. If necessary, it can detect difficulties with event triggers and revert to the desired condition automatically. Salt even offers SSH support, which may be used in agentless mode. It has a scheduler that allows you to determine how frequently the managed servers should run your code.
9. ( R )?ex
(R)ex or Rex is a simple automation framework that does not impose its model on the user. You may use any combination of declarative or imperative approaches, push or pull management styles, local or remote execution, and so on with rex. It is a Perl-based open-source deployment and configuration management platform that allows you to smoothly adapt modules to meet your needs. Its ability to handle remote computers through SSH makes it simple to onboard and successfully automate repeated processes, saving human work and time.
Vagrant is another excellent tool in the list of infrastructure as code tools created by HashiCorp, the author of Terraform. The distinction is that Vagrant concentrates on creating computing environments with a restricted number of virtual machines rather than enormous cloud infrastructure settings with hundreds or thousands of servers spread across several cloud providers.
HashiCorp Vagrant is a simple yet effective tool for simplifying development setups. It encourages the adoption of unified workflows by utilizing declarative configuration files that contain all of the necessary setup data. It maintains state consistency across environments and integrates with current configuration management technologies like Puppet, Chef, SaltStack, Ansible, and others.
A distinguishing characteristic of Pulumi as an Infrastructure as Code tool is that it maintains the key principles and functionalities of popular tools such as Terraform while also supporting cloud giants AWS, GCP, and Azure Cloud.
Crossplane is a free and open-source Kubernetes Infrastructure as Code (IaaS) platform that works with all major cloud providers. It intends to use kubectl to manage and provision cloud infrastructures and services. It allows you to enhance the functionalities of your Kubernetes clusters by providing Custom Resources Definition (CRD) for any impacted service or infrastructure.
Any third-party tool that is already integrated with your clusters may manage, distribute, version, and consume the resources created. Crossplane also provides a uniform API that is compatible with all cloud providers. Furthermore, the Crossplane Resource Model (XRM) standardizes resource management between Kubernetes, Crossplane, and your cloud platform. It guarantees that critical information such as credentials, connection secrets, and status conditions function properly regardless of the provider you select.
We think that IAC is the computing resource provisioning and management solution of the future. While it has its own set of implementation issues, the benefits it provides outweigh the obstacles it now confronts. Infrastructure as Code benefits IT and DevOps teams (IAC).
Infrastructure as code tools show to be important in making this implementation a reality. The list above includes some of the best infrastructure as code tools available today. This list is by no means extensive, but it will provide you with a good starting point in this subject.