Everything you need to know about Infrastructure as Code: benefits, tools and how it works


Infrastructure as Code is a concept in which IT infrastructure services such as computing power, storage and network are provided by machine-readable code. This concept is closely related to DevOps and the cloud computing model Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Definition Infrastructure as Code: The future of IT infrastructure

IaC, or Infrastructure as Code, is a concept in IT where infrastructure services such as computing, storage and networking can be provided automatically through machine-readable code.

Infrastructure services can be provided without manual configuration work. Instead, the infrastructure is described by scripts or programme files and automatically configured according to the specifications. Creating the infrastructure is comparable to developing software.

By combining Infrastructure as Code with DevOps and IaaS, organisations can deploy infrastructure services quickly, cost-effectively and flexibly. Virtualised environments and cloud computing resources are managed in a software-defined way, enabling rapid customisation and scaling.

Infrastructure programming: an overview of common tools

The infrastructure can be programmed using various tools, including Terraform, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Packer, AWS CloudFormation and the Google Cloud Deployment Manager. Some of these tools are designed for specific cloud environments, while others are platform-independent and can be used by different providers.

What does Infrastructure as Code mean and how does it work?

Programming hardware resources such as computing power, storage space and network via machine-readable code requires an abstraction layer between the hardware and the configuration management tool. This layer is usually realised through various forms of virtualisation and provides the user with defined interfaces or tools to programme the resources with a defined code language.

Programming can be done in a declarative or imperative way, depending on the environment and the concept. In declarative programming, the target environment is precisely specified, while in imperative programming the actions to be performed are defined. The push and pull methods are also ways to implement the code and create the target environment.

IaaS cloud model and the importance of infrastructure as code

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a concept that can also be used in on-premises environments, but is mainly used in the cloud computing model Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Programming infrastructure services by code enables faster and more efficient provisioning of resources, as the manual management of many different services and resources would be almost impossible to manage in the cloud.

By using suitable programming codes, various resources can be automatically created, adapted or expanded in a short time according to specific requirements. Most IaaS cloud providers provide suitable interfaces or tools for the programmatic creation of the infrastructure.

Best practices for the integration of Infrastructure as Code and DevOps

Using IaC as part of the DevOps concept enables greater collaboration between development and operations. Through this collaboration, IT systems can be deployed faster and the quality of the software can be improved.

The introduction of Infrastructure as Code allows developers to have more influence on the infrastructure, while Operations is more closely integrated into the software development process. This improves collaboration between development and operations.

By using resources specifically made available for this purpose, the transfer of our software into operational use can be fully automated. At the same time, the adaptation of the infrastructure is carried out in a single process, which leads to a significant improvement in efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Infrastructure as code: Tools for efficient implementation

Numerous IaC tools are available, including dedicated tools for programming the infrastructure services of a particular cloud computing environment and open source tools that are usable with different vendor services. If cloud resources are used by multiple providers, tools that enable cross-provider resource management should be used. Most cloud computing providers support a variety of IaC tools and languages.

From Puppet to Ansible: The best IaC tools

Infrastructure as Code Tools
IaC-Tool Hersteller Basis
Terraform Terraform is an open source tool developed and published by the company HashiCorp.
Chef Infra Chef Infra is developed and manufactured by Chef Software, Inc. Chef Software is a company specialising in automation solutions for IT infrastructure management. Chef Infra is open source software for automating the provisioning, configuration and management of IT infrastructures, including servers, networks and applications. written in Ruby
Puppet The company Puppet, Inc. is the manufacturer of the software platform Puppet, which is used for the automation of IT infrastructures and the management of configurations. The company was founded in 2005 and has its headquarters in Portland, Oregon, USA. written in Ruby
Ansible Ansible was originally developed by Michael DeHaan and first released in 2012. Ansible was later acquired by Red Hat, which is now part of IBM. Therefore, Ansible is often considered a tool developed by Red Hat.
AWS CloudFormation The IAC tool AWS CloudFormation is produced and provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS CloudFormation is a service that enables developers and system administrators to create and manage infrastructure and applications in AWS in an automated and scalable way.
Google Cloud Deployment Manager Google Cloud Deployment Manager is an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool developed by Google.
Packer The manufacturer of the IaC tool “”Packer”” is the company “”HashiCorp””. Packer is an open source tool for creating identical machine images for different platforms (such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, etc.) from a single configuration source. It enables DevOps teams to treat their infrastructure as code and provides an effective way to create secure and consistent images for different environments.
Pulumi Pulumi is an open source cloud development and management tool developed by Pulumi Corporation. Pulumi was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Azure Resource Manager The Azure Resource Manager (ARM) is not an IAC tool (Infrastructure as Code tool) in the traditional sense, but a Microsoft Azure service that enables the management of resources in the Azure cloud. ARM provides a unified API for creating, managing and provisioning Azure resources and can be used via various tools and languages such as PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure Portal or REST APIs. As part of Microsoft Azure, ARM is developed and operated by Microsoft.

Advantages: How Infrastructure as Code can increase the security of your IT infrastructure

The use of Infrastructure as Code and the provision of infrastructure services through machine-readable code delivers many advantages. Instead of having to manually configure individual hardware components in a time-consuming manner, a program code can be used to provide a large number of services quickly, flexibly and according to individual requirements.

With the same code, many different machines can be dimensioned and configured without errors and with the same quality, reducing the cost of configuring the infrastructure. At the same time, it enables more flexible and easier scaling. Thanks to a closer connection between operations and software development (DevOps), development processes are shortened and cooperation between those involved in the process improves.

Save time and money: More advantages of Infrastructure as Code

  • With the use of Infrastructure as Code, one can make hardware setups and resources testable in the same way as one does with software.
  • The code makes it possible to implement even difficult infrastructure modifications in no time at all.
  • Infrastructure as Code allows the automation of change processes in the use of resources at any point in time without the need to deploy personnel.
  • Using infrastructure as code can reduce the chances of user or typing errors.
  • Infrastructure as Code offers a way to reduce infrastructure disruption time when implementing adaptation work.
  • Infrastructure as code makes it possible to use the same programme code several times.
  • The use of version management makes it easy to administer infrastructure services in a similar way to the processing of software – always keep an eye on service as well as resource version!
  • The connection of infrastructure as code and infrastructure as service is indispensable for the success of a project in the field of cloud computing.
  • It is possible to duplicate infrastructures as often as desired – be it production, staging or test scenarios.
  • Using the tools for Infrastructure as Code, infrastructure services can be controlled independently of the provider using the same language.

Disadvantages: Risks in configuration management with Infrastructure as Code: Watch out for changes in the infrastructure

IaC mainly brings advantages, but there is still potential for problems: Therefore, it is necessary to use special tools for configuration management and to always keep an eye on the version control; furthermore, changes to the server can only be handled efficiently with DevOps procedures.

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