What Is Infrastructure as Code in DevOps?
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an innovative approach to managing and provisioning computing infrastructure. With IaC, you write code to describe the infrastructure you need, and then use a tool to automatically provision it. Treating infrastructure as code bridges the gap between software development and IT operations, enabling a more seamless and efficient process.
In traditional IT infrastructure management, you manually configure and manage servers, databases, and other resources. This process is time-consuming, error-prone, and requires a high degree of expertise. Infrastructure as code automates this process, letting you write code that describes the desired state of your infrastructure, and then use a tool like Ansible, Chef, Puppet, or Terraform to turn that code into reality.
Infrastructure as code relies heavily on version control. Just like you use version control systems like Git to track changes to your software code, you can use version control to track changes to your infrastructure code. This allows you to audit changes, roll back unwanted modifications, and recreate your infrastructure from scratch if needed.
Importance and Benefits of IaC in DevOps
Consistency Between Environments
Without consistency across environments, your application may work perfectly in development but fail in production. With infrastructure as code, you can eliminate these discrepancies.
By defining your infrastructure as code, you can ensure that every environment is set up exactly the same way, every time. If something works in one environment, it should work in all environments. This consistency improves the quality of your deployments and makes operations much easier.
Easy Scalability for Infrastructure
Infrastructure needs to be able to handle sudden spikes in traffic, grow with your business, and adapt to changing requirements. Instead of manually adding or removing servers and adjusting configurations, you can simply modify your infrastructure code and let the IaC tool scale your infrastructure. This saves time and effort and ensures your infrastructure scales in a consistent, reliable, and predictable manner.
In combination with cloud platforms or orchestrators like Kubernetes, IaC allows for auto-scaling, where your infrastructure automatically adjusts based on demand. This means applications and workloads can dynamically scale up and down based on metrics like number of requests or CPU utilization.
Reusability with Modular and Reusable Code
One of the principles of good software development is “Don’t Repeat Yourself” (DRY), and this applies to infrastructure as well. With infrastructure as code, you can write modular, reusable code that can be used to create and manage multiple environments.
By breaking your infrastructure down into reusable modules, you can reduce duplication, improve maintainability, and make your infrastructure easier to understand and manage. This modularity also allows you to share and reuse infrastructure code across projects, teams, and organizations, further improving efficiency and consistency.
Additionally, reusable infrastructure code makes it easy to experiment with different configurations and setups. You can quickly spin up a new environment, test your changes, and then shut it down using code.
Cost-Efficiency with Optimized Infrastructure
Managing infrastructure requires expensive hardware, software, and personnel. By automating and optimizing your infrastructure with IaC, you can significantly reduce these costs.
Automation reduces the need for manual intervention, freeing up your team to focus on more strategic tasks. It also reduces the risk of human error, which can lead to downtime or security breaches.
By defining your infrastructure as code, optimization becomes easier. You can adjust configurations, scale resources up or down, and experiment with different setups to find the most cost-effective solution.
Reducing Risk by Testing Infrastructure Changes
With IaC, you can create a separate, identical environment for testing infrastructure changes. This allows you to experiment freely without worrying about impacting your production environment.
Another way to reduce risk is to test IaC code itself. Because your infrastructure is defined as code, you can use the same testing practices that you use for your software code. This includes static analysis, unit testing, and integration testing. You can also integrate IaC into your continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) process and run these tests as part of your software delivery pipeline.
Implementing IaC in a DevOps Pipeline: Step by Step
Here are the general steps you’ll need to follow to successfully integrate IaC with your DevOps process.
1. Standardize Infrastructure Configurations
Standardizing your infrastructure configurations means defining your servers, networks, databases, and other infrastructure elements in a consistent way. After selecting an IaC tool, you should gradually transition all configurations to IaC templates managed by the same tool.
Standardization ensures that your environments are consistent and predictable. This reduces the risk of configuration drift, where differences in environment configurations lead to bugs or other issues. Standardized configurations also make it easier to manage and update your infrastructure, as changes can be made in a single place and then propagated across all your environments.
2. Store IaC Scripts in a Version Control System
The next step is to store your IaC scripts in a version control system such as Git. By storing your scripts in version control, you can easily revert to previous versions if something goes wrong, and you can track who made changes and when.
Storing your IaC scripts in a version control system also facilitates collaboration among your team members. They can work on different parts of the infrastructure code simultaneously, without worrying about overwriting each other’s changes. Version control systems often integrate with other tools in your DevOps pipeline, such as automated testing tools or deployment tools.
3. Implement Automated Testing
This step involves writing tests that validate your infrastructure code, ensuring it is valid, does not have security vulnerabilities, and produces the desired infrastructure configurations.
Automated testing provides several benefits in a DevOps context. It helps catch errors early, before they cause problems in production, and it provides a safety net, allowing you to make changes to your infrastructure code with confidence. Finally, automated testing encourages good development practices, such as writing modular, reusable code.
4. Incorporate IaC Scripts into your CI/CD Pipeline
This step involves setting up a system where changes to your infrastructure code are automatically tested and, if the tests pass, deployed to your environments. This can be done using tools like Codefresh, which integrate with version control systems and provide features for building, testing, and deploying code.
Incorporating IaC scripts into your CI/CD pipeline brings your infrastructure management in line with your software development practices. It enables you to deploy changes to your infrastructure in a consistent, repeatable way, reducing the risk of human error. It allows you to continuously improve your infrastructure.
5. Automated Deployments
In this step, you set up a system where changes to your infrastructure code are automatically deployed to your environments, without the need for manual intervention.
Automated deployments provide several benefits in a DevOps context. They reduce the risk of human error and ensure changes are deployed in a consistent, repeatable way. Automated deployments also enable you to respond quickly to new requirements, as you can deploy new infrastructure configurations as soon as they are ready.
6. Feedback Loops and Monitoring
This step involves setting up systems to monitor your infrastructure and provide feedback on its performance. Monitoring can be done using tools like Nagios, Prometheus, or Datadog, which provide insights into your infrastructure’s health and performance.
Feedback loops and monitoring help you identify and address issues quickly, before they impact your users. They also provide valuable data to improve your infrastructure and your infrastructure code. For example, if you notice that a particular server configuration is causing performance issues, you can update your infrastructure code to avoid that configuration in the future.
7. Periodically Review IaC Scripts and the Infrastructure They Produce
It’s important to regularly review your IaC scripts and the resulting infrastructure. This involves checking your scripts for errors or inefficiencies, and verifying that your infrastructure is configured as intended.
Periodic reviews help you catch and correct issues that might have slipped through your testing and monitoring systems. They also provide an opportunity to refactor your infrastructure code, improving its clarity and maintainability. Reviews also help you stay up-to-date with changes in your business or technical requirements.
Learn more in our detailed guide to IaC tools (coming soon)
Infrastructure as Code with Codefresh CI/CD
Codefresh is built for modern tools with support for flexible frameworks. Most infrastructure as code tools are available as docker images and can be seamlessly integrated into Codefresh pipelines – this happens to be a very common pattern for many of our customers. Learn more about how you can easily execute a custom freestyle step with any of these images here.
If you are interested in managing Codefresh resources with Terraform, we also have you covered there! The Codefresh Terraform provider can manage the creation, updates, and removal of Codefresh resources allowing you to utilize your current infrastructure as code workflows without compromises.