Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Introduction- Infrastructure as code refers to provisioning and managing infrastructure, including hardware, virtual resources, platforms, container systems, services, and topologies, through declarative or scripted definitions—code—rather than through manual configuration or the use of traditional configuration tools.

IaC separates configurations, policies, profiles, scripts, and templates from the hardware or software on which they are deployed so they can be stored, shared, revised, and applied like code can. This approach, which has grown with the popularity of cloud infrastructures, springs from a DevOps mindset and applies the same kind of version control and repeatability to orchestration of the infrastructure as developers use for app source code. An IaC approach supports continuous integration, delivery, and deployment by creating the same infrastructure environment every time it is applied.

The arrival of tools such as Ansible, Puppet, SaltStack, and Chef, have enabled developers and sysadmins to maintain modular, automatable infrastructure, and delineate them using a domain-specific language. This advancement in technology has been named as Infrastructure as Code (IAC). As the name suggests, infrastructure as code is the practice of considering infrastructure as if it were code. This innovative concept helps in managing the operations environment in the similar way you do applications or other code for release. It brings about repeatable, consistent practices for provisioning and changing systems and its configuration.

Why Infrastructure as Code?

  • Today’s businesses need an extra responsive IT environment; they demand the capability to change and adapt the IT functionality to support the business’ changing needs in a better way.
  • IaC is becoming a much-needed way of dealing with the increasing complexities of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Implementing cloud and automation tools rapidly lower obstacles for making changes to infrastructure.
  • The ability to treat infrastructure like code brings the benefits of automation, visibility, efficiency, and scalability to infrastructure management so that applications can be deployed more rapidly and reliably, with less manual effort and risk of human error or security vulnerabilities.
  • Because configuration is decoupled from the system, it can more readily be deployed on a similar system elsewhere. In this way, it reduces the challenges of migrating from a data center to a cloud or from one cloud to another.
  • IaC also supports agile development and CI/CD strategies by ensuring that sandbox, test, and production environments will be identical and remain consistent over time because they’re all configured with the same declarative code or scripts.
  • By using infrastructure as code, software deployment method can be made more agile for today’s fast-paced DevOps environment.

How does infrastructure as Code Work?

  • IaC configuration of servers, load balancers, virtual machines, and other data center or cloud resources can be accomplished either by imperative approaches that specify instructions (without detailing the outcome) or declarative approaches that specify the desired configuration outcome (without detailing how to get there, which can be based on pre-existing workflows and templates).
  • The difference can be compared to asking for a sandwich and trusting the sandwich maker to know which steps to take and in what order (declarative)—or specifying every step required to make it without necessarily mentioning that they’ll result in a sandwich (imperative)

Benefits of Infrastructure as Code:-
With IaC, there is no need for the operations team to rely on cumbersome processes and practices to deploy software updates. IaC standardizes the process cutting down time, which is a significant factor in today’s DevOps environments.

Competency :-
With the IaC approach, there is no need for reinventing the wheel every time you set up a new version of the software. All the important instructions needed, are captured already in the code, making the process much more seamless and efficient.

Less Risk Involved :-
Extensive deployments in enterprises are designed carefully, as the risk tolerance for failure is very low. IaC, therefore, reduces the risk of human error.

Mr. Arshad Hussain, Assistant Professor, School of Computer Applications, Career Point University, Kota

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