Not so long ago, many companies hosted their IT infrastructure on company premises. This worked for a while because, at the time, this was the only viable option.
Maintaining an in-house datacenter was a challenging task. You had to add or remove hardware physically, install software on each device manually, and so on. Then came cloud-based technology that changed everything. Companies no longer needed to have on-premise datacenters.
Instead, they can leverage an entire cloud-based infrastructure through Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). However, cloud services weren’t cheap, and many companies opted for more affordable shared resources.
The ones that could afford top-notch services managed to gain a significant advantage by using resources provided solely for their purposes. Once again, modern technology is changing the landscape, and in comes Infrastructure as Code (IaC) that will revolutionize cloud services. With that in mind, here’s an IaC 101 guide.
The problems with the legacy systems
As mentioned before, traditional IT data centers had their set of problems. Due to the fact that almost every process was conducted manually, human error was quite a common issue. Moreover, scalability in such legacy systems was troublesome at the very least and quite expensive.
If your business started to grow, you could add more hardware for the time being. However, eventually, you’d need to replace it altogether. Adding hardware means more room for storing it. This is especially problematic with storage space, as you’d need to add more and more hard drives to store your data.
Oftentimes, companies would store hard drives off-site to accommodate everything because there was simply no more room on company grounds. When the market competitiveness started to gain pace, these traditional infrastructures simply couldn’t meet company needs.
What exactly is IaC?
Infrastructure as Code is used in automating infrastructure management. This may not sound as much at first glance, but the benefits of using Infrastructure as code are quite significant.
The way it works is that instead of conducting various optimization processes manually, you simply automate them using a specific code so that the infrastructure can optimize itself based on specifications listed in the code.
For example, if you need a specific environment to create enterprise applications in your company, you can simply run the code, and it will set everything up for those specific needs.
That means optimizing computing power, adding virtual machines, creates users and groups, starting coding processes, etc. As you can imagine, this drastically saves time on otherwise mundane and time-consuming tasks.
How does IaC work exactly?
The IaC process is fairly simple, even though it sounds quite complex. As you may already know, infrastructure specifications need to be converted into a code so that automation can be applied.
The first thing to do is that developers have to define and write infrastructure specifications in a domain-specific computer language. After that, created files need to be stored in the management API or code repository.
Finally, the platform in use will then take all the necessary actions to create and optimize computing resources. There are two approaches IaC can operate in. Here are the examples:
- The Declarative approach – This approach allows you to specify how the infrastructure will be set up, and the code will do the rest. This approach is also known as the functional approach.
- The Imperative approach – In this approach, you can prepare automation scripts that allow you to set up the infrastructure step by step. Also referred to as the procedural approach, this process requires more management, but it allows the administrators to utilize the full potential of every resource.
The benefits of IaC
As mentioned before, IaC may not seem as much, but its value can easily be seen through the benefits it provides to the company. This technology changes the cloud-computing landscape and levels the field in terms of competitive advantage.
Companies that use this infrastructure automation, especially companies that opted for shared cloud resources, can easily catch up to their competitors in the market in terms of creating highly-functional products at a much faster rate. Here are some of the main benefits IaC has to offer.
- Faster time to market – By automating the distribution of computing resources, companies can greatly improve efficiency in terms of development, testing, and production.
- Improved consistency – IaC sets up a specific environment that’s consistent every time. You can slightly alter it based on current needs, but it will always meet expectations when it comes to development and deployment.
- Cost reduction and improved ROI – By reducing time, skill, and resources requirements for seamless scaling, IaC reduces the operation costs while improving ROI through speed and efficiency.
Infrastructure as Code has the potential to revolutionize how companies utilize cloud computing and its resources. By offering valuable automation features when it comes to infrastructure, companies can now build an environment specifically tailored to their business needs.