Terraform for DevOps with Azure

What is Terraform and Where Does It Fit in the DevOps Process?

Terraform - An Introduction

Terraform is a handy and innovative open-source tech tool that allows you to develop, change and manage the versioning of infrastructure in an efficient manner. Terraform provides the capability to manage various existing cloud service providers as well as deal with custom in-house solutions.

Created by HashiCorp and released in 2014, this infrastructure tool enables you to create various components required for running different applications and services. The tool is originally written in the GO programming language.

Terraform - An IAC (Infrastructure as Code) Tool

Since its release, Terraform has been rapidly gaining popularity as the first multi-cloud “Infrastructure as Code” tool. Another reason for its wide adoption is the simple syntax that it offers for ensuring easy modularity. Being labeled as an IAC tool, Terraform works by treating and managing infrastructure code in the same way as software code.

DevOps is all about introducing the best practices for efficiently managing the development, planning, testing, and deployment of applications. Infrastructure as code is one of the core foundations and aspects involved with DevOps practices. This includes versioning control, seamless integration, code review, and most importantly, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD).

Terraform is exclusively designed to manage and support the lifecycle of various resources, including networking, SaaS applications, and physical servers.

How is Terraform revolutionizing the DevOps process?

Terraform is rapidly revolutionizing the entire landscape of DevOps and boosting the efficiency of DevOps projects. Terraform shares the same “Infrastructure as Code (IAC)” approach as most DevOps technologies and tools such as Ansible. However, Terraform operates in a distinct manner that is unique in itself as it focuses primarily on the automation of the entire infrastructure itself. This necessarily means that your complete Cloud infrastructure including networking, instances, and IPs can be easily defined in Terraform.

There are some crucial differences between how Terraform operates and how other comparable technologies get the job done.

Terraform provides support for all major cloud providers and doesn’t restrict the users to a specific platform like other tools. Terraform also handles provisioning failures in a much better way than other comparable tools. It achieves this by marking the suspect resources and ultimately removing and re-provisioning those resources in the next execution cycle. This approach improves the failure handling mechanism to a great extent since the system doesn’t have to re-build all the resources including the ones that were successfully provisioned. Instead, in such scenarios, Terraform focuses on resources that were tainted in the last execution cycle only.

Terraform also transforms the DevOps process and facilitates teams such as security and operations to work in parallel with the developers instead of following the traditional and slow linear approach. Therefore, this ultimately leads to quicker execution of the tasks at hand and efficient implementation of the DevOps model.

Here are some significant reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on Terraform when working with DevOps projects:

1) Support for Multiple Cloud Providers

As mentioned earlier in this blog, Terraform differs from traditional DevOps tools in terms of support provision for cloud providers. Terraform facilitates the support for cross-cloud dependencies and enables the use of a single configuration to manage multiple cloud providers. This ultimately leads to simplified orchestration and assists in building multi-cloud infrastructures.

The multi-cloud deployment also calls for an efficient fault tolerance mechanism and a smooth recovery in case of loss of a region.

2) Disposable and Simplified Environments

Terraform allows the production environment for application development to be codified and afterward shared with QA, dev, or staging ones likewise. These coding configurations can be employed to rapidly generate new environments and later dispose of them easily. With this feature, Terraform helps in easing up the difficult task of maintaining different environments in parallel.

3) Open-Source and Strong Support Community

With Terraform available as an open-source tool, you have very good access to a wide community of professionals who are constantly developing the tool and using it. The tool is certainly evolving at a fast pace and the platform offers very frequent releases from time to time. It’s pretty easy to seek professional support for the tool regarding extensions, plugins, and other queries via its massive community.

4) Automated Infrastructure Management

Terraform facilitates your DevOps team to easily define, provision, and configure resources in on-premises and cloud servers efficiently and reliably through its template-based configuration files.

Automating the infrastructure management also eliminates any potential risk of human errors and improves the entire operation as a whole compared to using slower and manual processes. Employing Terraform for your DevOps needs also leads to reduced expenses for your business since the cost involved in creating test environments is minimized by automatically creating and disposing of environments using preset configs.

Final Thoughts - Is Terraform Worth It?

The answer is simple: Absolutely!

It’s an evident fact that Terraform is an incredibly helpful and rapidly evolving IaC tool that is bound to immensely improve the efficiency of DevOps implementations.

Terraform offers plenty of benefits for developers and businesses simultaneously. With the capability to integrate with all major cloud service providers, this open-source tool can truly make a great impact in properly streamlining your business objectives and help you reach the next levels of success for your DevOps projects.

Here are a number of interesting links you can use to learn more about Terrform and Azure:

Official documentation for Azure DevOps
Microsoft labs for Azure DevOps
Video - Getting started with the Secure DevOps Kit for Azure

Terraform and Azure
Terrform Azure Provider

Getting started with Terraform on Azure

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