First off, What is Infrastructure as Code (IAC)? IAC is an automation technique for managing your infrastructure. It requires a large upfront investment and can be implemented in a number of ways. The goal of IAC is to reduce the need for a large DevOps team to maintain your infrastructure code. Before we dive into why IAC is needed, let’s go over why you wouldn’t use it. 

When IAC Isn’t Needed

IAC shouldn’t be a priority for POCs or smaller and simpler applications. Your team should be able to easily maintain and scale their infrastructure via the UI console of a cloud provider, such as AWS. You can also manage it manually through the cloud provider’s command line interface as well as through bash or similar scripts. These manual approaches require less initial work. However, keep in mind that they do require routine developer engagement to keep your apps up and running.

Use IAC If You’re Facing These Challenges

If you’ve heard your team complaining about the following, then it’s definitely time to consider and implement IAC. 

  • Our team has trouble understanding/agreeing on our current infrastructure’s setup and configuration.
  • We deploy code all the time but spend an unhealthy amount of time figuring out the order of the infrastructure’s deployment.
  • We spend a lot of time copying and reusing our code in different projects and environments.
  • Developers dedicate a good chunk of time spinning up dev environments and killing them for testing purposes.
  • We make a lot of mistakes in provisioning and managing our infrastructure.
  • The infrastructure setup is manually configured and takes a lot of time to confirm that it’s live and working.
  • Our team spends too much time setting up the infrastructure and not enough building out core functionality.
  • Developers are tired of manual methods to track and manage infrastructure changes.
  • Our regulatory compliance for the infrastructure is to pray that QA and UAT pass.
  • The wrong people have access to our protected environments.

Obviously, some of these issues are more serious than others. The litmus test for IAC is whether your team has to bandwidth to manually manage every aspect of your infrastructure. Therefore, check with your team to confirm whether it’s time for IAC or a migration expert, like Uplancer, to get started!

Tools for IAC

If you’re already thinking, we need IAC, the first thing you’ll need to consider is the breadth of the implementation. Do you need a full or partial implementation? With full, you’re changing every part of your infrastructure to be managed by code. And with partial, you’re implementing IAC on core services that would benefit from it the most. IAC is not a one-size-fits all approach and certainly depends on your organizational needs.

Once you’ve confirmed the breadth, now let’s look at depth. Are you looking for a configuration-based or code-based tool? A configuration-based tool is as simple as it sounds; you set it up with limited code and apply standardized configurations to manage the infrastructure. On the other hand, code-based tools on the other hand, but allow more control of your IAC.

Beyond the tool type, you’ll find providers such as AWS offer differing IAC offerings, such as CDK, templates, and serverless frameworks. You’ll find the equivalent implementations through other providers like Azure, GCP, and Terraform. Consult with a migration expert to determine which tool is most compatible with your tech stack.

The Bottom Line / TLDR

If your team is spending too much time fighting with your infrastructure, it’s time to help them out. Take an IAC approach to your infrastructure and free them up for core development work. Let’s discuss your infrastructure and how IAC can help!

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