Manage your IT Infrastructure the DevOps Way; Utilize Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
The way IT infrastructure is handled has undergone a sea change in the last decade. Until a few years back, it was commonplace to see servers taking up whole rooms. Server management was not a cakewalk and it required the deployment of full-time resources to ensure the businesses using it face no hiccups.
Things have changed for the better and now, backend management is not so much complex in nature.
It is no longer necessary to spend several hours in setting up servers and Server management- because of DevOps and the cloud services. Nowadays, the cloud providers have altered infrastructure management and DevOps has modified the way software is developed and deployed. These amazing concepts have changed the Software Development arena in massive ways.
DevOps is made up of several terms, concepts, processes, methods which are meant to make software development secure, more efficient and speedier. DevOps Infrastructure is based on the concept of automation and that ensures manual processes are discarded. Smarter tools are introduced to enable fast delivery pipeline.
Infrastructure has been a key part of Software Development and that serves as the pillar for the entire system.
Infrastructure as Code is one such revolutionary topic, which will help you figure out software-defined infrastructure.
First, it is necessary to understand what exactly is Infrastructure As Code and how it is related to DevOps.
Infrastructure As A Code
As it is, IaC or Infrastructure as Code is a powerful concept denoting the modern practices of infrastructure management. The infrastructure here refers to aspects and things like networking requirement, data servers, storage, etc.
As evident from its name, it looks at infrastructure setup as code as opposed to a manual process for setting up hardware and systems. It is basically infrastructure management by using the code. For example, you can make use of machine-readable files for setting up necessary IT infrastructure to compile and run your code.
Understanding how DevOps is related to IaC
Continuous integration and continuous delivery, referred to as CI/CD, is a major part of DevOps and this is prerequisite to build a software these days. These essential DevOps practices automate the processes while creating an efficient and speedy release cycle. The main objective of DevOps is archiving agile development while adhering to product quality. To deploy a faster release cycle, there have to be faultless infrastructure components to deploy necessary test and production elements.
Much like Continuous integration and continuous delivery this concept is used to automate the method of infrastructure component setup to enhance software release speed. In other words, IaC is a major requirement for DevOps deployment in an organization and it deems IT infrastructure as software.
Why Treating Infrastructure As Code is needed?
Even a few years back, software delivery and development were different. Software apps were made, tested and deployed using physical servers. There used to be specific roles like database administrator, system administrator, developer — and they needed to work in sync to deploy software. Consistency in test, development, and production of software was a prerequisite.
They need to look after aspects like version control, load balancing, time zone, interlinking and so on. This entire server management, as well as environment set up required plenty of time and risk of human errors, could not be eliminated either. This led to a delay in deployment.
There are 2 other aspects to analyze before understanding the whole purpose behind embracing IaC.
Gradually, the ‘hardware virtualization’ has become more commonplace thanks to an industry-wide shift to cloud technology. This eliminates the need to manage infrastructure. Giants like IBM, Amazon, Google manage the infrastructure while offering scalability and flexibility.
DevOps is the other concept that has altered infrastructure management. Owing to fast deployment and delivery, the older manual infrastructure management is becoming less desired.
By using IaC, it is possible to deploy faster reliably and it is no longer necessary to handle infrastructure manually in various environments. Numerous tools are available for IaC adoption and the entities who have tried it give positive feedbacks. In the end, it all reduces overhead and faster software delivery.
The benefits of embracing Infrastructure As Code
As IaC is closely linked to DevOps, the entities who are deploying DevOps can deploy it and gain benefits. IaC is used to denote cloud implementation of a physical environment too. The major advantages of deploying Infrastructure As Code Are:
- Improved speed
To build a software the development team cannot waste time in testing and debugging like it was a decade back. Nowadays, software apps are delivered/upgraded much faster than the past. Infrastructure as code adoption ensures faster software delivery.
- Enhanced system performance
IaC ensures risk mitigation by offering timely awareness of sensitive areas. It ensures better compliance along with IT infrastructure safety.
- Change management
Prior to deploying software in the production environment, its code is tested and modified frequently. IaC ensures efficient, safer change management across separate systems, devices, platforms.
- Scalable infrastructure
This provides the companies with the advantage of scalability. Hardware virtualization makes it simpler to add extra resources, scale and replace those as and when required.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
IAC helps in saving time and cost and helps improve customer satisfaction. Besides, it makes DevOps adoption smoother by streamlining deployment and development processes.
Teams that implement IaC are able to deliver stable environments faster and scale well. The teams need not waste time in manual configuration of environments. Infrastructure deployments using IaC can be repeated and it prevents runtime issues triggered by missing dependencies and configuration drift. The DevOps teams may work together using a unified set of tools and practices to deliver apps rapidly and reliably.
How one can deploy IaC? What are the top tools of IaC?
Listed below are a number of tools using which you can deploy IaC in the company:
- AWS CloudFormation
- Terraform — open-source IaC tool
- Azure Resource Manager
- Google Cloud Deployment Manager
Some of these tools are offered by the giant cloud providers while a few belong to the DevOps tools providers.
Of course, this is a new concept and there exist some hurdles.
The main bottlenecks of embracing Infrastructure As Code?
The main drawbacks of using IaC are:
- It needs new skills for using the tools
- the element of outside intervention post the setup can be tedious
- It needs humans to audit entire IaC setup from time to time
- It requires efficient planning along with flawless deployment to get the desired results
- To deploy the concept smooth collaboration is necessary.
- A unified approach is necessary to use Infrastructure as code and reap the benefits in an organization
Where it all leads to?
Adopting IaC leads to a reduction in complexity and speedier setup-beyond doubt. It also erases the pains and complications associated with server management. With the growth of cloud computing and DevOps, IaC may be used to obtain benefits of consistency and better reliability — from a business perspective.
However, switching to IaC is not very easy yet. It requires efficient change management right from the beginning and extensive knowledge to use specialized tools. Such tech stack has to be planned strategically so that businesses can capitalize on it and enhance performance. The number of IaC tools is only growing with time and right mindset and skills are necessary to use one properly.