Ever since Infrastructure-as-Code or IAC was introduced, it has been transforming the concept of setting up and managing IT infrastructures in the organisation. Before the arrival of IAC, setting up new infrastructure in an organisation usually involved hardware installations such as stacking physical servers, configure network cables, and housing hardware in a capable data centre.
However, setting up infrastructures that have high performance and are cost-effective, secure etc can all be done using the software. Infrastructure as code is an approach to infrastructure automation based on the practices followed in software development. With IAC, setting up dedicated resources is done within a matter of hours rather than days.
The biggest advantage of IAC is the automation process thereby reducing the time to set up infrastructures, The use of infrastructure as code means IT infrastructure can be entirely provisioned from source code rather than manually. IAC is made more accessible through a comprehensive range of tools that automates the entire infrastructure set up process much easier. There are many tools that can be employed for implementing IAC in the organisation. These tools can even support the most demanding business-critical environments.
One of the most popular tools from Amazon for IAC is the AWS CloudFormation. It is a service that allows users to model web services. One reason for its mass usage is the popularity of AWS Cloud in the current environment. It allows users to model their infrastructure within a JSON or YAML template file. With the template file configured to your application specifications, CloudFormation will handle the rest of the processes.
The service also adds automation features to help with the deployment of resources in a repeatable and manageable way such that you need to pay only for the resources used and not the entire service. When compared with other tools, what makes cloud formation different is that it is deeply integrated and can only be used with AWS.
Another popular open source tool for IAC automation process is Terraform. Terraform is completely cloud-agnostic i.e interoperable and helps manage infrastructure for complex distributed applications. It enables users to define and provision infrastructures by using its own domain specific language called Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL).
HCL is JSON compatible and is used to create these configuration files that describe the infrastructure resources that need to be deployed. It has a capable set of features that are used for replicating deployments and individual server instances. With its version control and remote states, Terraform provides a centralized source of truth for remote teams that are working in collaboration.
Chef is a highly popular tool used for defining infrastructure as code. It uses the Ruby Domain-Specific Language (DSL) for writing system configurations. Irrespective of the size of infrastructure, the following types of automation can be implemented by Chef, which are Infrastructure configuration, Application deployment and managing configurations across networks.
Chef supports multiple platforms like FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris, Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu etc. When it comes to integration with the cloud, Chef can be integrated with Amazon EC2, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure etc. The principal components in Chef are Client, Server and a workstation.
Puppet, too, takes a more holistic approach to IAC setup and automation. It also has one of the most advanced interfaces on this list. It has been on the market for a long time and like Chef, it uses the Ruby DSL as the primary language for defining the desired end state of the infrastructure.
It automatically enforces the desired state and fixes any incorrect changes. Puppet usually follows a client-server architecture in which the client is known as the agent and the server is known as the master. Puppet is mainly developed specifically towards system administrators.
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