IaC offers efficient automation for an IT infrastructure with its flexible alignment and multiple IT practices as it uses a descriptive language to program more adaptive deployment and provision of IT services within an organization.
The control of infrastructures such as virtual machines, connection topology, networks, and load balancers in an advanced graphic coding language to computerize the distribution of IT services, is known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC), or application-defined infrastructure. The IaC concept can be compared with scripts of a program that can be embedded to computerize the IT processes. These programming scripts were previously utilized to computerize the series of static steps which were repeated multiple times on equal interval of time across several servers.
This computerization or automation removes the requirement for the programmers to manually supply or handle the storage systems, servers, database connections, operating systems, or deploying any software application, and developing other infrastructure element. Rather, IaC enables them to automatically handle, inspect, and provide resources to the system of an organization.
It is the most common task for an organization to deploy multiple software in their management daily. Moreover, it is also necessary for an organization to computerize their infrastructure to reduce costs, avoid risks, and respond rapidly to upcoming opportunities in business, malicious activities, and threats. An automated infrastructure of an organization enables flexible administration of various applications by controlling the entire IT infrastructure as a single software.
Pros of IaC
- Easy alignment of IaC with DevOps (software developments and IT operations) in an organization can integrate IaC with its containers that will extract the software from the infrastructure at operational level. Due to automatic distribution of hardware infrastructure and operating systems, the application gets enclosed within the IT infrastructure.
- IaC helps the programmers or developers to develop a program to deliver and deploy software and servers on the basis of business policies and regulations.
- Automated or computerized distribution and management of IT resources is more efficient and quicker than the manual processes. Apart from resources, the distribution of back-end services, networking, databases, and account handling of users, is also possible in an IaC-implemented system.
- This technology is helpful for differing targets of deployment such as trials, segmenting, and executing an application.
- IaC relieves the developers from developing and maintaining the data centers along with the higher costs required for it.
IaC in Cloud Computing
IaC shares an identical goal with the cloud computing which separates the IT resources such as network, compute, and storage from their physical hardware such as servers, routers, switches, etc., and attach new services to these resources. Besides this service, IaC automates this procedures with some pre-determined commands such as connection related to services, instance configuration, management and monitoring of deployment, deployment and configuration of task, and providing resources. These processes are vital for automation due to wide applications and services provided by IaC which are associated via APIs (Application Programming Interface). Cloud platforms require these automatically controlled processes especially for their scalability and scope, which will help the platform to get rid of manual lengthy processing.
Organizations having ‘hybrid cloud’ solutions can be benefitted from IaC than those with non-hybrid cloud solutions. Hybrid cloud solutions aid an organization to integrate a private cloud to multiple public cloud services with the help of a restrictive software that facilitates the communication among every service. In such cloud solutions, IaC offers provision of template resources and configurations in one or more than one environments. Using IaC in a hybrid cloud environment will provide a better flexibility to the businesses by shifting tasks among various cloud solutions. Although, IaC solves the issues such as scalability and availability but the problems associated with inconsistency still remain unsolved.
IaC deployment methodology
Infrastructure as code procedure can be executed by two approaches,
- IaC as Resources
- IaC as Tools
While IaC deployment requires a WebServer as a resource, the IaC deployment tools automate and configure the supply of services to the infrastructure. The IaC deployment tools can implement the deployment of an infrastructure automatically.
The IaC deployment tools that are used for automation enable the IaC procedure of developing and configuring an infrastructure in more efficient manner, hence, minimizing the associated work and costs of it.
Here are some of the most significant IaC tools available in the market, which are popular due to their ability to execute tasks such as deployment, monitoring, provisioning, and configuring the IT resources.
- AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud-Formation
It is an integrated IaC tool within the platform of AWS cloud, which offers the developers or programmers with an ease in management and provision for a set of multiple services related to the platform. This tool also allows the developers in provision for third-party resources and the implementation of GitOps (use of Git software to deploy applications by developers) and DevOps (software developments and IT operations) practices. The cloud formation assists the developers in administering scale of resources and automation of future resource management by embedding it with other Amazon resources. Apart from these features, this IaC automation tool permits the programmers to utilize its Command-Line Interface (CPI) to develop a separate resource that will handle the third-party APIs and the native resources of Amazon.
This IaC tool is developed by American software company, HashiCorp, Inc., which enables the creators to describe an IaC and make outlined execution strategies that predict the outcomes of a code when it is executed. It shows the representation of resources in graphical form and computerizes the variations with least human interference in a declarative approach to describe an IaC. Terraform allows the stacks of infrastructure from several providers of cloud service at once and embeds with third-party services. Supply of different environments with the help of same configuration is possible using Terraform tool.
Developed by RedHat, this infrastructure automation tool holds a large contribution in software advancement. Besides advancements, Ansible aids the DevOps developers to have a rapid, authentic, and correlated application deployments. This automation tool defines the manner in which the components and system associate to each other rather than separate management of systems. Ansible has simple and easily deployable configurations as the codes are written in YAML format which is readable data serialization language and are saved in the form of Ansible Playbooks. With this tool, the developers can create more than one environment, which are identical with the baselines of security. Ansible lines up the IT resources with business models and provides some recess for an organization to focus on strategies and innovations.
- Google Cloud Deployment Manager
The Google cloud deployment manager, created by Google Cloud Platform (GCP), is an infrastructure deployment service which is used in automation of management, creation, provision, and configuration of a resource on GCP. Developers can create various templates using languages such as Python or YAML, and survey the changes in program before deployment. Using this deployment manager, a set of various Google cloud resources can be created and governed as a single unit. This IaC deployment tool specifies the configuration type by using an approach of declarative language. It offers a back-to-back deployment of multiple resources at the same time, manages the sequence of creating the resources, and creates the description of resources too.
- Azure Resource Manager
For the deployment and control of Microsoft’s Azure resources, the Azure resource manager is used. This IaC tool is specified only to Azure resources for their deployment, monitoring, and maintenance all together. This resource manager enables re-deployment of an infrastructure solution more than one time over the life-cycle of application development. It locally integrates the Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) with the mechanism of resource control to enable its users to manage the accessibility of resources in the category of resource. Instead of scripts, the Azure resource manager permits the developers to use the declarative templates for managing the infrastructure.
The IaC tools impose the outlined setup from the template through pull and push methods. When using the push method, a centralized server request the required configuration to a specified system, while in case of pull method, the system or systems of an infrastructure request a centralized server for configurations. The IaC tools can be imperative as well as declarative but the later programming approach summarizes the required, planned state of the infrastructure. One of the most commonly used declarative programming language is Structured Query Language (SQL) that is written in declarative style of an IaC such as the templates of AWS Cloud-Formation. Comparatively, an imperative approach uses the object-based programming languages such as Java and C++ to describe the commands, which permit infrastructure to achieve the required state. Infrastructure as code is configured as a template in both the approaches. The Chef Configuration management tool can be partly used as imperative approach as well as a declarative approach.
These IaC tools are the major components in deployment of an application. IaC is the future of cloud computing’s resource management and provision. Although, it has issues with implementation, but the benefits of IaC will excel the barriers of the present day in future.