Why do you need infrastructure as code?
Khurshiday Molla, Cloud Engineer
- 1. Benefits of Infrastructure as Code
2. Facilitate collaboration and productivity
3. Necessity for a robust cloud strategy
Whether you are a start-up, small business or large corporation, the cloud makes it easy to start immediately. You simply go to a console, tap away at a series of forms, and before you know it, your infrastructure is up, and you are in business.
Nothing is more gratifying than being able to pull up a solution quickly.
If you live in a world with only occasional changes, you are fine. But most of us do not. Whenever you need to make changes, add features, or implement fixes, you must sit at a console and key in everything from scratch. It is time-consuming, and you often have to re-invent the solution because you forgot how you did it last time.
This is a wasteful way to use your valuable IT talent. You can achieve significant cost savings simply by moving from manual configuration to automating with Infrastructure as Code. Your staff will also be happier as they are freed from repetitious grunt work and available for more creative work.
Protecting your institutional know-how in the face of staff turnover
This is an era where IT talent is scarce and expensive.
When IT talents leave, as they often do, they take away work know-how that took a lot of time and money to create. If these talents were primarily involved in manual configurations, it is unlikely they have created much in the way of documentation. It is not easy for those taking over to fully understand the implementations from whatever if any, documentation that was left. Often, it may be quicker for your new staff to reinvent the work. All the investment that went into creating the previous configurations is rendered worthless.
By introducing Infrastructure as Code, you can track every action, process and change and capture these in reports and documents. New employees can review the code and documentation to rapidly acquire an understanding of the configurations and build upon the work of previous staff. In this way, Infrastructure as Code acts as a failsafe for employee churn by protecting the investments of the past.
"Infrastructure as Code acts as a failsafe for employee churn by protecting the investments of the past. "
Avoiding the curse of poor documentation
Essential as it is in protecting your investments, creating good documentation is not easy. Most engineers have little enthusiasm for documenting their work. Without good documentation, configurations will drift, and inconsistencies arise in your infrastructure.
In Infrastructure as Code, you codify your entire computing environment. Every piece of infrastructure, whether database, server, or network – is expressed as code. The configuration of every item and their relationship to one another is also encoded into a file.
The deployment steps are performed by code. The configuration file is pretty much self-descriptive and self-contained. It is all the documentation other engineers need to understand what is going on. You could, if you wanted to, add some introductory comments and diagrams for clarity.
The Infrastructure as Code configuration file represents your single source of truth for how your environment will be configured. Every time you run the file, your infrastructure will be repeatedly deployed.
Enhancing your reputation for reliability
Configuration changes to your infrastructure are often required to accommodate new features, additional integrations, and source code edits. To deliver workable solutions, your staff have to test, deploy, and troubleshoot every single change. Keeping track of all the changes and people who made them can quickly become unmanageable.
Infrastructure as Code is code that can be version-controlled. Every change to your server configuration is documented, logged, tracked, and tested, just like code. Any issues can be quickly pinpointed and corrected, minimising the risk of failure. If a new version has problems, you can revert to a previous working version without any downtime while the latest version is being rectified.
Delays and errors that arise from manual provisioning can be avoided. You quickly respond to customer needs and take advantage of business opportunities. You enhance your reputation for being able to deliver reliable and resilient services.
"Delays and errors that arise from manual provisioning can be avoided. You quickly respond to customer needs and take advantage of business opportunities. You enhance your reputation for being able to deliver reliable and resilient services. "
Raise productivity by enabling collaboration
Using the microservices approach, you can speed up your development by enabling a large number of engineers to work on a single project. In this approach, you break down your infrastructure into small modules for each engineer to work on independently and later combine in an automated fashion.
These modules have to be tested, then integrated, tested, and retested in Development, System Integration Testing and Quality Assurance environments before being production-ready. It requires collaboration among developers, testers, and security professionals. At each stage, environments and infrastructure must be set up, adjusted, and torn down.
It would be best if you adopted Infrastructure as Code to cope with the increased level of activity and management complexity. It will enable you to integrate and continuously develop your applications.
The future of technology is in the cloud, but developing and sustaining a robust cloud strategy is not a trivial task. Adopting Infrastructure as Code can make life much more manageable.