What Is “Infrastructure as Code” and Why Does It Matter?

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Over the last decade or so, web development in the UK and around the globe has changed beyond all recognition. After all, while in the past, development and delivery were unmistakably two different things, more recently, the dividing lines between them have become increasingly blurred. This is actually in no small part due to Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

But what then does this mouthful of a technical term mean, and more importantly, how can Infrastructure as Code help you level up your organisation or business? Let’s jump right in and find out now!

Infrastructure as Code — The Foundation of DevOps

In a nutshell, Infrastructure as Code can be defined as the process of managing infrastructure the same way that we manage software: programmatically. This essentially means that you can set up your IT environment using nothing but computer files – a concept which in many ways represents the foundation of DevOps practices in use today.

So you’ve only just been introduced to IaC and we’ve already thrown a curveball at you: DevOps. But worry not! We’ll explain that one briefly too:

A portmanteau of “development” and “operations,” DevOps aims to fly in the face of traditional deployment practices (i.e. a multitude of differing roles including database and system administrators, testers and software developers), as it unites all specialists under a single roof. When first proposed between 2007 and 2008, this was a totally groundbreaking concept.

Examples of Infrastructure as Code in Action

Formerly, for instance, if you needed to make changes to your infrastructure, you’d be entirely dependent on the IT guy. On the other hand, with IaC management tools in place, you can define and control your server configuration from the same centralised location. This, of course, is all thanks to automation — which is luckily at the very heart of both IaC and DevOps practices.

Consequently, whenever you want to modify your software product, you can rely on Infrastructure as Code techniques to circumvent a number of age-old problems. Gone are the days of having to change all installation documents to take account of newer dependencies or outdated scripts. After all, just like waving a magic wand, Infrastructure as Code ensures that as soon as the source code changes, all deployment and installation data will also be automatically updated.

Is IaC the same as IaaS?

Another acronym you may hear is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which will often become an accompaniment to an organisations’ IaC efforts. Equipped with IaaS — typically in the form of a subscription model — a cloud provider of your choice will provide and manage an IT infrastructure for you. In most cases, due to their inherently superior resources, this will provide a variety of enticing benefits, such as faster workloads, increased flexibility and even greater cost efficiency. Some widely used IaaS providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, DigitalOcean, Cisco Metapod and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Some Infrastructure as Code Tools

But how to enjoy this technical wizardry at your own organisation? To help you get started with Infrastructure as Code, developers employ a variety of IaC frameworks including the common examples mentioned below:

  1. Chef
  2. Puppet
  3. Ansible
  4. Terraform
  5. Other services provided by internet giants like Amazon’s AWS CloudFormation and Google Cloud Deployment Manager.

Nevertheless, the real zeitgeist of infrastructure technology is without a doubt containerisation, as with the help of Kubernetes and Docker, you can run your applications in any environment, whilst defining how they are deployed and communicate with one another.

What Are the Advantages of Infrastructure as Code?

With all of that in mind, by implementing IaC practices, DevOps specialists are able to deliver stable environments for all of your products. This is done both rapidly and at scale. As a result, you can take advantage of markedly improved performance, lower costs and above all higher customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Infrastructure as Code deployments are not only repeatable and reliable, but they prevent unfortunate runtime issues caused by unmet dependencies and configuration drift.

Are You Ready to Level up Your Business?

Of course, adopting Infrastructure as Code practices is just one way to build exceptional software products. Yet both cloud computing and DevOps pose a plethora of unmissable opportunities, so it is worth considering partnering with a trusted software provider who can bring these benefits to your company today.