Engineers have long manually created, configured, and stopped servers. But the modern web is fast and needs quick product updates and the latest releases. To keep up with rapid development, stopping and configuring environments must be faster.
Therefore, businesses are realizing that to run modern infrastructure, code and automation must replace the manual approach. That’s why organizations are adopting the Infrastructure as Code (IaC) model.
But how does adopting IaC help companies deliver products faster? In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of IaC to get the most out of it.
What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?
Infrastructure is the practice of providing, managing, and deploying infrastructure using code as code.
Cloud servers and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allow engineers to write code that directly sends instructions to multiple elements of the infrastructure: networks, load balancers, databases, and virtual machines. Developers then connect all the elements to automate server provisioning and configuration.
The code is reusable, which saves a lot of work when configuring infrastructure.
What are the advantages of infrastructure as code?
A code-based approach to infrastructure management is faster, better, and safer than manual.
The biggest advantages of IaC are:
#1 Faster workflow
Traditionally, creating a server and installing software to make it compatible with an application used to be done manually. However, the manual process becomes a bottleneck in the development process due to its slow speed.
The code deploys the concept of “Don’t repeat yourself”. Write the infrastructure as code once and deploy it to configure as many servers as needed.
And with a faster workflow, the product team can develop quickly and push product updates to market quickly.
#2 Lower risk of human error
People tend to make mistakes. And misconfiguration means unusable or unstable infrastructure, wasting resources and time.
Miscommunication in the team is the main cause of configuration deviation; a situation where unrecorded and unplanned changes are made to the environment.
There are also opportunities for engineers to leave the company, taking all their knowledge and experience with them. You don’t want to end up with an infrastructure that no one can manage or manage.
IaC solves all these cases.
Encrypted infrastructure minimizes human interaction with data centers, servers, and networks. Less manual intervention means less human error.
IaC standardizes the process and provides documentation on how the infrastructure should be built. As a result, new developers can learn the infrastructure architecture from code and continue development without many problems. But there are no 100% foolproof solutions, and that’s why you have to remember that IaC can lead to configuration drift.
#3 Consistent environments
The test, development and production environment must have similar infrastructure for an efficient development cycle. However, different teams often work at different stages of product development. They made changes to the infrastructure that resulted in inconsistent environments.
With IaC, the configuration file becomes the single source of truth and ensures that each team designs their environment as the configuration files dictate.
Configuration files represent the standard specifications of your infrastructure and describe the cloud components used to configure environments and how they are connected.
Good code is easy to read and understand. Ideally, the developer should understand the logic of the code just by reading it.
When configuration is done manually, team members must rely on documentation to configure servers. Proper documentation and records prevent infrastructure inconsistencies. The documentation is also useful for giving new employees a deep understanding of the infrastructure.
But now the code itself is a “document” for the infrastructure and is regularly updated. IaC is self-documenting like any other code.
The onboarding process becomes smooth as new developers and team members can quickly understand the code. Finally, improve productivity by reducing training time.
#5 Cost optimization
Companies use IaC to automate configuration and provisioning processes. As a result, it reduces the effort, time, or specialized expertise needed to successfully maintain and scale an infrastructure.
#6 Disaster recovery
It is quick and easy to restore the environment after a disaster. You have the infrastructure as code, so you can run it to deploy the infrastructure elsewhere.
If the infrastructure is provisioned for multiple clouds, you can run the code to create the same environment on a different cloud.
#7 Going multipurpose cloud
There are many cloud providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, and Digital Ocean. Some are known for their reliability, some for greater availability, and some for their lenient policies.
A multi-cloud infrastructure allows organizations to leverage the features of multiple clouds while avoiding being locked into any one.
Whether or not your organization prefers a multipurpose cloud, it makes sense to plan the infrastructure for it from the first step. This will reduce work and costs later when the organization decides to implement a cross-functional strategy.
#8 Code modularization
Modularization means developing units of code that can run independently without touching other components of the product.
Advantages of modularization:
- granular input. You can choose which part of the code will be accessible to which team member.
- Efficient distribution. A high-level component can be given to senior engineers, while junior engineers can work on beginner-friendly components of the codebase.
- Quick fixes. Changes are made to modules instead of the entire code base. It allows the team to find modules with errors and fix them quickly.
#9 Specialized platforms
You can manage your infrastructure with in-house tools, open source solutions, or use a specialized IaC platform. Which one to choose depends entirely on your organizational policies and development requirements.
For many organizations, a specialized platform such as Spacelift or Terraform Cloud is a suitable option. Such tools provide useful features including git-flow workflow, policy-as-code, and a private module registry with an intuitive interface.
Infrastructure as code has many benefits, including reliability, rapid deployment, consistency, reduced manual risks, and cost optimization. Implementing IaC, however, is not a one-time job. It is an ongoing process that requires an initial investment of time and capital.