Wednesday May 25, 2022
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Infrastructure as Code 101: Guide to IAC

Within IT circles, there’s nothing harder than maintaining IT infrastructures and data centers. For example, a DevOps engineer and system administrator must manually manage all their hardware and software to make everything run. However, much of this drastically changed due to Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

With cloud computing revolutionizing how we deal with data centers, IaC is the next proper evolution in designing, setting up, building, developing, and maintaining IT infrastructures. Here’s everything you need to know about Infrastructure as Code and how it is the future for your organization.

What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

In DevOps learning, you learn that triage that builds DevOps as a system. These are: 

  • Development through software engineering
  • Maintenance through quality assurance
  • Operations, either automated or manual

Infrastructure as Code simplifies this entire process by allowing you to manage your IT infrastructure through configuration files. In addition, it enables developers or even ops teams to handle all their system resources through automated processes, usually through software adjustments, in contrast to manual systems.

Most definitions you find online can be complex, but the point of the service is simple. Imagine a script, which is a series of static steps used to automate several processes. IaC is similar to a script but uses a higher level of descriptive language to allow more granular control.

IaC capabilities extend to versatile and adaptive provisioning and deployment. For example, IaC can set up and configure a server, create a user account with a secure password, verify that everything is working within set parameters, set up a new database, and optimize it for performance.

These are areas of infrastructure management that you can’t automate with a script using traditional methods. So instead, it follows the same workflow as software development processes, creating strict quality assurance processes until the software is ready.

How IaC Solves Real World Problems

Infrastructure as Code resolves some of the most persistent issues in IT management since the concept came to pass. For decades, an IT team has been needed to manage infrastructure, put everything in place, and build up to the correct settings required by the organization.

The manual process involved a lot of problems, including cost, availability, and scalability. You’re spending a lot of money and resources upfront by hiring many IT professionals, both freelance and provisionary. The cost of the overhead, as well as the complexity of the operation, becomes more expensive.

There’s also the issue of scalability for infrastructures. Manual configuration can take weeks and even months for everything to stabilize. Systems would struggle as access grows, and administrators will try to manage the server load.

The final issue with operations is maintenance and monitoring. Monitoring performance takes a lot of work. Setting up infrastructure monitoring tools is not only a hassle, but it’s also an extra cost down the line.

Benefits of Infrastructure as Code 

Infrastructure as Code allows IT personnel to manage infrastructures through a code file. Whether your organization moves data centers to the cloud or uses in-house hardware, these code files automate the entire process and allow for easily replicable and repeatable processes.

When organizations adopt an IaC solution, there are several benefits that they can expect from the process. These include:

  • Speed
  • Stability
  • Consistency
  • Accountability
  • Cost-efficiency

Every organization of every size can use IaC to warp speed their infrastructure development. By resolving environment drift in your maintenance, you prevent the creation of a “snowflake” environment – an irreproducible ad-hoc configuration that leads to consistency.

How IaC Benefits Your Organization In Real-Time

The first significant benefit of Infrastructure as Code relates to setup speed, allowing you to have your infrastructure ready with a simple configuration profile. Teams who implement IaC can deliver entire working environments on-demand.

What makes this speed more powerful is the reliability and reproducibility of the outcome. As teams can follow a single configuration file, they can replicate their entire infrastructure and let everything work in unison.

IaC also allows for a stable, testable environment at every point within the development cycle. They can be validated and tested to ensure that they work within the set parameters of the organization. Because everything passes the proper testing and QA, runtime issues are prevented – even nipped at the bud.

Since you can version Infrastructure as Code like a source code, there are tried-and-tested ways to trace changes and bugs. For example, you can check where each version changed, where problems were introduced, and who performed the rollout.

The entire process results in a more cost-efficient organization. If you decide on combining cloud computing with IaC, you can see dramatic cost reduction in your IT infrastructure. You save up on hardware costs, workforce, rent space, and even the opportunity cost wasted as you build everything manually.

Declarative vs Imperative Approach

Infrastructure as Code tools use two types of approaches. These include declarative and imperative definitions, both providing a specific advantage to their organization.

A declarative approach specifies what the environment requires without telling the infrastructure how to reach the state. SQL, for example, is known as a declarative programming language. AWS CloudFormation, together with Azure, prefers declarative definitions over imperative approaches.

The abstraction provided by a declarative definition provides for better flexibility of steps to reach the desired state. This considers the optimizations that the infrastructure providers give, as well as reduces technical debt.

In contrast to this approach, the imperative definition enables the infrastructure to reach the desired state by outlining all the necessary processes. Object-oriented languages such as C++ and Java are imperative in their manner of definition.

Declarative is preferred over imperative definitions for IaC tools and should be stored in a source control system. The user would also need to specify the resource needed for each server within the infrastructure, mostly configured on a template.

Final Thoughts

Infrastructure as Code is a powerful solution that can help streamline your database and simplify its configuration and management. It is a crucial part of the DevOps movement and, when combined with cloud computing, can provide several benefits to your organization.

If you’re looking to solve the many issues you experience from manual IT management, IaC is the next best step. Not only does it offer desirable features, but it can also work well with any type of infrastructure you need.


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