IaC and Its Benefits

3 minute read

Welcome to this lesson on IaC, and Its Benefits. You’ll see me use the term IaC (Infrastructure as Code) a lot throughout this course, so get used to it.

So, we hear a lot about Infrastructure as Code, and it seems like magic, right?

But what is this magic called Infrastructure as Code? Well, let me clarify it for you. Simply put, in the most basic terms, Infrastructure as code is writing down what you want to deploy as human-readable code. So, you write down whatever you want to be deployed, and in most cases, it’s going to be declarative if you’re using Terraform.

But you write it down, and you can track it, as opposed to having to log into an AWS console and clicking on 15 different places to spin up a VM, where there’s a chance that somebody is going to fat-finger something or double-click on a button and cause extra resources to be deployed – which ties into our next benefit, which is that it enables DevOps.

The codification of deployment means that it can be tracked in version control such as Git, enabling better visibility and collaboration across teams. So now, distributed teams can work on the same chunk of code, which can deploy infrastructure and make sure that they agree on something immutable and stored in version control before it is deployed.

For the majority of the IaC tools out there, the code is usually declarative, which means that you declare or write down exactly what you want without caring about what underlying functions or API calls will need to be made to deploy that infrastructure.

The beauty of writing code this way is that when someone reads it, they can easily make sense of what is being deployed, and in addition to that, the code can be a form of documentation of the deployment itself.

And finally, the speed, cost, and reduced risk of using infrastructure as code cannot be undermined, because less human intervention during deployment means fewer chances of security flaws, somebody double-clicking and creating extra resources, or just wasting time by trying to find a way to click Next to create a resource, which ties down to something that I mentioned right at the start – that when you’re trying to deploy something by memory or clicking around on a console, there’s a chance that, on your fifth attempt, you’ll make the mistake of choosing some wrong option in a dropdown or clicking on the wrong type of EC2 instance and therefore mess up your application.

By using a consistent IaC tool such as Terraform, you can make sure that your code is uploaded to Git, tracked, and always consistent. And then no matter how many times you deploy it, it is always going to be deployed with the same inputs and the same expected output.

Now, before I end this lesson, I quickly wanted to show you a snippet of IaC code, more specifically Terraform code which is written in HashiCorp configuration language, or HCL.

You’ll notice that you don’t need to know any programming languages, such as Python, C++, or the like. Instead, you’ll be writing much easier-to-read and -understand declarative language, as shown here.

However, don’t worry. The exam will not test you on writing full-fledged Terraform code deployments but might test you on small snippets of it and how to manipulate variables and logic control via Terraform. In this example, though, I just wanted to show you that it’s easy to read through the code to understand what’s happening. And even though you might not know anything about AWS or whatever infrastructure you’re going to deploy onto using Terraform, you can still make sense of it.

In this example, we are using the AWS cloud to deploy a VPC, and you’ll notice that we’re declaring everything in sequence. We’re telling Terraform to use the AWS cloud provider, and we’re telling it to deploy a VPC.

And you can check in the chunk of this code that you’re giving it inputs which are essential to creating the VPC, such as a CIDR range or the IP range of the VPC and some of the other options, and also give it a name to identify it with.

This is going to be the same case with any cloud that you write the code for with Terraform, and this is how easy it gets.

Thank you for going through this lesson!!