In the early stages of technology, human intervention was the only means to manage computer infrastructure. It wasn’t a concern since development cycles were extensive and infrastructure upgrades were not common throughout the software development life cycle. Virtualization, cloud computing, DevOps, and an agile methodology eventually resulted in much shorter software development cycles. Consequently, there was an increase in demand for more effective infrastructure management strategies. When it came to deploying servers, businesses simply could not afford to wait for a long duration.
Infrastructure as code (IaC) is a method of optimizing infrastructure management and deployment time. With IaC, you can develop and configure infrastructure components in seconds using a collection of tools, languages, protocols, and procedures.
Understanding Infrastructure as Code
Infrastructure as code is a method of automating infrastructure based on software development methodologies. Consistent, repeatable procedures for provisioning and modifying systems and their configuration are essential to this methodology. Unattended processes, including full validation, are used to make definition changes and subsequently roll them out to systems.
The idea is that current tools can handle infrastructures like software and data. It enables professionals to manage infrastructure using software development tools, including version control systems (VCS), automated testing libraries, and deployment orchestration. It also allows you to make use of development techniques like test-driven development (TDD), continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD).
The viability of infrastructure as code has been shown under the toughest of conditions. IT systems are not only business core; they are the business for firms like Amazon, Netflix, Google, PayPal, and eBay. There is no room for downtime. Every day, PayPal’s systems process millions of dollars in transactions. Therefore, it should be no surprise that these firms are pioneering new approaches for large-scale, highly dependable IT infrastructure.
Why Use IaC?
The typical engineering organization’s infrastructure footprint grew substantially when several smaller ones overtook a few large machines. When Ops suddenly had to deal with a lot more infrastructure, this infrastructure was often cyclical in its maintenance. It’s possible to increase capacity during peak hours and then reduce it at night to save money. There is no longer a need to own a depreciating machine. Therefore, it made logical sense to use just the infrastructure required to maximize the benefits of a cloud-based system.
Virtualization, cloud computing, containers, server orchestration, and networking software applications are supposed to make IT operations more straightforward. Provisioning, configuring, updating, and maintaining services should require less time and effort. Problems must be promptly identified and rectified. IT personnel must spend minimal time on everyday chores and more time making innovations and upgrades to empower their businesses in adapting to the ever-changing challenges of the modern age.
Key Challenges of IaC
Despite its adaptability and advantages, IaC presents certain challenges such as the following:
#1: Adoption Discrepancies
One of the significant challenges companies have when implementing IaC is correctly merging new frameworks with existing technology. In declarative and imperative approaches with tools like Terraform and AWS Cloudformation, transforming complex and interrelated objects and their dependencies into code isn’t always easy. Adopting IaC requires time, careful preparation, and coordination with other teams, notably those responsible for security and compliance. As your IaC adoption progresses, you may find yourself struggling to figure out where and how your resources are being delivered, controlled, and managed. To minimize infrastructure drift and ensure that your security tools do not fall behind, it is vital to continually communicate and audit your IaC adoption.
#2: Security Assessment Tools
You may not be able to rely only on your current security measures in the IaC environment. The supplied resources may need human checks to ensure they are operating correctly and being utilized by the appropriate applications. If you’re using conventional security tools, it may take a lot of cycles to get them working with IaC.
Think about the fact that IaC is much more dynamic than the current provisioning and arrangement practices. It has the potential to be utilized optimally or misused much more quickly. It means that you may have to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to guarantee that you’re setting up boundaries for adequate control.
#3: Requirement of New Human Capital
As the DevOps and infrastructure as code models demand a high degree of technical competence, some senior executives may have difficulties in the continual investment in employees and their skills. It is valid for your present staff and future hires, which may prove too expensive for the company. Even in the early adoption phases, many firms outsource IaC services. They like this choice because it allows them to get comfortable with the process, tools, and practice guidelines before implementing them. Consequently, their automation process is improved in terms of cost and the general quality of their IT infrastructure.
#4: Versioning and Traceability
At some point, keeping track of the infrastructure and keeping an eye on things like infra-drift become more difficult because of the complexity of IaC. Traceability and versioning of settings are not as simple as they seem when IaC is utilized widely across an organization with various teams.
#5: Risk of Error Duplication
Even though the IaC architecture and machine development processes are primarily automated, various parts of the process must be completed manually. One of those steps is generating the parent code, and there is always the risk of technical errors when there is human effort involved, even in a setting where quality assurance inspections are performed regularly and consistently. It will help if you always double-check the code that creates your IaC architecture.
IaC Adoption for Optimization
Organizations looking to automate processes and deliver products quicker are increasingly turning to infrastructure as code. Workflow optimization and automation with an enhanced development environment are necessary for speedy application development. IaC is the cornerstone for the future generation of security products and work processes, even though new trends come and go. The early friction between security and engineering may be difficult to overcome.
Still, in the long run, IaC has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for improving cloud security, especially with the adoption of specialized platforms. IaC solutions for unique IT architectures are not something that can be tackled carelessly with minimal resources or even without advice. However, as soon as you have set up your IaC infrastructure, your transformation process will start delivering results right away.