What is infrastructure as code (IaC) and why was it developed?
Infrastructure as code (IaC) is the process of managing and provisioning IT infrastructure through definition files, rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. IT teams who have adopted this method find they can respond quickly to changes and increase the reliability, security, and quality of their IT services.
A response to utility computing difficulties
Over a decade ago IaC came as a response to the difficulty posed by utility computing and second-generation web frameworks. In 2006, the launch of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud and before this the launch of version 1.0 Ruby on Rails created scaling problems in the enterprise that only existed previously within large, multi-national organisations.
Moving from the physical to the virtual
Historically, setting up new infrastructure meant stacking physical servers, configuring network cables, and housing hardware in a capable data center. Today, setting up more performance efficient, cost-effective, and secure infrastructure can all be done using software.
Furthermore, thanks to the evolution away from legacy change management, by adopting consistent routines for provisioning and changing systems as well as their configuration help teams roll out thoroughly validated, yet fully, unattended new processes in minutes rather than days.
IAC appeals to both infrastructure administrators and software developers
The ability to design implement and deploy application infrastructure with known best practices is appealing to both IT infrastructure administrators and software developers. The ability to treat infrastructure as code and use the same tools as any software project allows developers to rapidly deploy applications.
The 3 biggest advantages of IaC
The value of IaC can be broken down into 3 measurable areas:
1. Cost reduction through manual process reduction
By reducing manual processes, a cost reduction is realised not only financially but in terms of people and effort. Time and effort can be refocused on other enterprise tasks.
2. Faster infrastructure configuration
Not only does infrastructure automation enable speed through faster execution when configuring your infrastructure, but it also provides visibility to help other teams across the enterprise work quickly and more efficiently.
3. Reduction in human error risk
Any risks associated with human error such as manual misconfiguration is removed through automation. This improves reliability and decreases downtime. In turn, this helps the organisation implement a culture of DevOps, the combined working of development and operations.
The 3 biggest challenges of IaC
Every coin has two sides. While IaC adds a lot of value to the IT environment, some challenges cannot be overlooked:
1. Time allocation and practice
It takes time and practice to master writing infrastructure as code to adhere to basic software principles. In addition, an instructor would be needed to instruct and guide the user. The challenges faced by software developers are quite different from those encountered by infrastructure analysts.
Software developers are required to understand and learn various infrastructure pieces that are required in hosting an application architecture including networking, disaster recovery, security etc. It is hard to find someone knowledgeable in integrating existing network infrastructure or networking.
3. Infrastructure transition
The transition from manual infrastructure provisioning to the infrastructure as code. Trying to mix both manual provisioning and the IaC will bring up issues that can be time-consuming.
The Top 7 IaC tools for automation
- AWS CloudFormation
- Azure Resource Manager
- Google Cloud Deployment Manager
If you would like to speak to someone at Amdaris about IaC, just get in touch.
Call +44(0)117 935 3444 or contact us using the form below and let us know about your next plans. We will help you choose the best technology for making your project a success.
Look out for part 2 of this blog series which focuses on Azure Resource Manager (ARM).