Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) Tools
The Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform (acquired by Red Hat in 2015) is a foundation for building and operating automation across an organization. The platform includes tools needed to implement enterprise-wide automation, and can automate resource provisioning, and IT environments…
Terraform from HashiCorp is a cloud infrastructure automation tool that enables users to create, change, and improve production infrastructure, and it allows infrastructure to be expressed as code. It codifies APIs into declarative configuration files that can be shared amongst team…
Chef IT infrastructure automation suites were developed by Chef Software in Seattle and acquired by Progress Software in September 2020. The Chef Enterprise Automation Stack is an integrated suite of automation technologies presented as a solution for delivering change quickly, repeatedly,…
Vagrant is a tool designed to create and configure lightweight, reproducible, and portable development environments. It leverages a declarative configuration file which describes all software requirements, packages, operating system configuration, and users.
Puppet Enteprise is an IT automation and configuration management solution that enables users to manage and automate infrastructure and complex workflows. The vendor states Puppet Enterprise combines both model‑based and task-based capabilities in a way that enables organizations…
vRealize Automation is an infrastructure automation platform that enables private and multi-cloud environments on VMware Cloud infrastructure.
The Sonatype Nexus Platform is a software composition analysis tool that scans to build a repository components, and then checks security and licensing to ensure compliance. Sonatype acquired MuseDev in March 2021 to expand the capabilities of the Nexus platform. Current modules…
Red Hat OpenStack Platform is a cloud computing platform that virtualizes resources from industry-standard hardware, organizes those resources into clouds, and manages them so users can access what they need—when they need it.
Mirantis OpenStack for Kubernetes enables users to deploy, scale, and update bare metal private clouds on Kubernetes substrates.
Azure Resource Manager makes it easy to manage and visualize resources for apps.
HashiCorp Packer automates the creation of machine images, coming out of the box with support to build images for Amazon EC2, CloudStack, DigitalOcean, Docker, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure, QEMU, VirtualBox, and VMware.
Google Cloud Deployment Manager is an infrastructure deployment service.
The oak9 platform analyzes infrastructure as code (IaC) and builds security into cloud native applications.
Spacelift is presented as a flexible management platform for Infrastructure as Code hosted in the cloud or on a private server, from the company of the same name headquartered in Redwood City. Designed so users can customize workflows, automate manual tasks, reduce errors, and improve…
Torque (formerly Colony), from Quali headquartered in Austin, is a SaaS platform delivering Infrastructure Automation at Scale for complex, application-centric environments on cloud technologies including AWS, Azure, and Kubernetes. It can be used to enable self-service automation…
What are Infrastructure-as-Code Tools?
Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) tools automate the management of IT infrastructure using programming languages and automation tools. These tools help businesses manage computer data centers located in the cloud or on-premises through code. They minimize the need for manual intervention and hardware controls when deploying and configuring servers, storage, databases, and networks. These documented configurations are stored in version control systems that enforce consistency and reduce turnaround time.
IaC tools promote agility, scalability, and resilience. They facilitate DevOps and NetOps, streamlining provisioning and maintenance by creating repeatable processes. IaC tools enable more cloud-based infrastructure provisioning by eliminating the need for access to physical hardware.
These tools manage orchestration, automate workflows, and support testing. Using domain-specific programming languages, APIs, and code repositories, IaC tools build and configure computer resources.
The consistency and integrity benefits of IaC are best realized with an immutable approach to infrastructure. When infrastructure changes are required, the setup is completely replaced with a new instance (version), as opposed to the ad hoc patching of a mutable infrastructure.
IaC can take one of two approaches when setting up IT infrastructure. They can be either functional, defining what the configuration should be, or procedural, how the configuration is to be modified to meet the requirements. There are two methods of implementing IaC. ‘Push’ methods have the controlling server push the configuration to the designated system, and ‘Pull’ has the server to be configured to pull its configuration from the controlling server.
There are four major functionalities of IaC tools:
- Infrastructure orchestration focuses on infrastructure provisioning, using the APIs of cloud providers and physical hardware to create infrastructure. These tools define virtual machines, balance loads, manage firewalls, orchestrate networks, and include dashboards for monitoring and alerts.
- Configuration management lets developers use code to define server configurations to manage applications, OS settings, access and permissions, disk formatting, security, and job scheduling.
- Developers use scripting tools to quickly create basic configurations.
- Container orchestration tools create images that include the libraries and components needed to execute an application. Containers are software packages that include the components required to execute in any environment.
Infrastructure-as-Code Tool Features
IaC tools should include most or all of the following features.
- Cloud and on-premises IT infrastructure automation
- Infrastructure provisioning
- Configuration management
- Scripting tools
- Container orchestration
- Template-driven deployment and configuration
- Automated workflows
- Application deployment
- Version Control
- Testing support
- Dashboards and alerts
Infrastructure-as-Code Tools Comparison
Consider the following when purchasing infrastructure-as-code tools:
- Deployment: Where will the IaC tool be deployed? Some tools are designed to support specific cloud service providers, others offer the flexibility to be used for a variety of cloud providers as well as on-premises locations.
- Use Case: Do you require scripting tools, configuration management tools, infrastructure or container orchestration tools, or a combination of them? Some vendors focus on certain IaC capabilities, while others offer a centralized platform for delivering IaC.
- Implementation and Management: Deploying IaC tools requires expertise and may entail a significant learning curve. Evaluate the resources required to successfully implement your selection.
Most tools require obtaining a vendor quote for feature-driven pricing options. A few basic cloud-based offerings begin at $20 a month per user. Some IaC cloud-based tools have pricing based upon the number of handler operations and their duration. Free trials are available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Key benefits of IaC tools include:
- Cost savings
- Accelerated IT infrastructure delivery
- Risk mitigation - error reduction by minimizing manual intervention and by creating consistent and stable IT environments
- Fosters more efficient, scalable, and secure IT infrastructure
- Improved DevOps and NetOps