Most IT organizations have already adopted cloud computing as their preferred IT infrastructure services in order to increase IT efficiency and reduce operational costs. However, managing IT infrastructure across multiple clouds, data centers, environments and servers become even more complex when different teams within an organization may need similar infrastructure for their slightly different requirements. Infrastructure as a code solution called Terraform has emerged as one of the best solutions for an IT organization to reduce such complexity while growing infrastructure at scale.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), providing infrastructure as a code using Terraform and automated pipeline.

In this article, we will briefly discuss Terraform, its workflow and feature set.

Terraform and it’s use case

Terraform is an infrastructure-as-code tool created by HashiCorp which helps in provisioning of cloud resources. This is majorly used by DevOps to automate various infrastructure tasks. Terraform describes complete infrastructure in the form of code which acts as a common language for servers that may come from different cloud service providers such as Azure, AWS or Google cloud platform which helps to build and manage these resources in parallel across providers.

Some of the typical use case for Terraform are as below:

  • Providing an Infrastructure-as-code for cloud service providers like Azure or AWS. Provisioning of public clouds via a provider, a plugin that wraps existing APIs with languages like Azure biceps to create Terraform syntax.
  • Terraform helps in deploying large systems that involve highly complex topology.
  • Terraform has the capability to deploy resources into multiple cloud providers utilizing the same syntax without having engineers to have familiarize with multiple tools and technologies.
  • Terraform allows you to perform orchestration of resources for multi cloud and hybrid cloud platforms.

Benefits of using Terraform

  1. Better collaboration and tracking within team – Infrastructure-as-code can be linked with issue tracking systems where teams can collaborate, share and save their codes for future reference.
  2. Automated infrastructure management – Terraform creates configuration file templates that can be used multiple times to create the same development, test and production environments.
  3. Reduced development cost – As the same configuration file templates can be used multiple times to carry out same developments, it reduces manual efforts, resources, time and development cost.
  4. Enhanced Security – Infrastructure-as-code is an automated process that needs less human interventions. Hence, increases overall security of computing architecture and data.

How does Terraform work?

Terraform gives you the options to define and manage your infrastructure using configuration files and version controls. There are two main components of Terraform architecture i.e. Core and Providers.

Terraform Core workflow

This works based on the inputs provided by the users to create or provision resources. Users provide inputs to the providers as to what resources to be created or provisioned as one input and the other input is towards feeding data about the current state of an infrastructure.
Terraform takes both inputs and compares desired output with the current state to determine the gap and configure the architecture to fill the gap by creating, updating, deleting resources in order to provision the infrastructure as per desired output.

Terraform Workflow
- Starting with a Terraform Config file
- Executing init, plan and apply to provision the infrastructure
- Eventually provisioning infra for various cloud providers , such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) etc.

Terraform Provider workflow

Terraform has more than hundred cloud providers that grant access to its resources. Some typical cloud providers are Azure, AWS and GCP. Providers enable interacting with specific API and expose the resources Terraform has defined using Go language.
First resource that needs to be defined on Terraform is the provider which gives you access to the specific API to create resources. Once a provider is configured and authenticated, it gives access to create multiple available resources. Like for AWS instances, terraform will also have access to EC2 instances and resources with tech stack.

Terraform providing support to multiple providers, for on-premise to cloud providers.

Conclusion: The Configuration and Providers of Terraform enable you to create, alter, and improve infrastructure in a safe and predictable manner using infrastructure-as-code.