Managing IT infrastructure has always been a complex job. In a traditional setup, it fell to system administrators to manually configure and manage the software as well as hardware to get the applications up and running. Even though cumbersome, this approach worked just fine when the quantum of infrastructure that needed to be managed was minimal.
However, as the scale of infrastructure continues to expand, managing infrastructure has come down to handling several smaller instances at the same time, rather than a few large ones. The cyclic nature of modern-day infrastructure has made it imperative to transform the way infrastructure is designed, developed, configured, managed, and maintained. That’s where Infrastructure as Code (IaC) comes in.
Let’s take a closer look at what Infrastructure as Code is all about and how it can be leveraged.
What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and What Problems Can It Solve?
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) refers to the process of provisioning and managing IT infrastructures such as networks, load balancers, virtual machines, data centers, and connection topology in a descriptive model through machine-readable definition files with the help of versioning being used by the DevOps team as source code. This makes redundant the use of interactive configuration tools or physical hardware configuration.
Simply put, IaC allows you to manage tech infrastructure just by using configuration files. But why is that necessary or even recommended? To help you understand why you need it, let’s take a look at how IaC can streamline processes.
What Problems can Infrastructure as Code Solve?
The traditional approach of managing IT infrastructure manually was riddled with problems. These problems would only be augmented as the magnitude of the infrastructure around us grows.
Cost is the first problem posed by managing an expansive infrastructure that meets modern-day IT needs. From maintaining a team of professionals comprising technicians such as hardware maintenance and network engineers, to setting up and managing data centers, the complex requirements translate into astronomical costs.
Secondly, the slow and often tedious process of manual configuration can hamper the speed of availability and scalability. With every spike in access or surge in peak loads, system administrators would have to hurry to manage the load. This not only impacts the speed of access but also amplifies the risk of applications being rendered unavailable for long stretches.
Lastly, with different people manually handling configurations and management of IT infrastructure, discrepancies and inconsistencies become an unavoidable part of manual infrastructure configurations.
In contrast, with IaC, all of this can be handled with a single code file. Since the infrastructure is effectively managed and run with just text, you can tweak it as per your requirements and place it under source control, as you would do for any other source code file.
What Benefits Does it Bring?
A lot of the problems posed by manual management of infrastructure were and still can be resolved through cloud computing solutions. But not all. That’s why IaC has emerged as the final piece of the jigsaw needed to support and streamline DevOps as seamlessly as possible.
Let’s take a look at the key benefits of Infrastructure as Code to understand how:
- Speed: Infrastructure as Code gives you the element of speed by enabling users to set up the infrastructure in the shortest time frame possible by simply running a script. This can be done for every environment, right from development to QA, production, and staging, bringing greater efficiency to the entire development lifecycle.
- Accountability: Since Infrastructure as Code configuration files can be versioned like any other source code file, there is total transparency about the impact of each configuration. This transparency helps fix accountability for what’s working and what’s not.
- Consistency: Eliminating the need for manual handling of infrastructure diminishes the risk of human error. That means no discrepancies, inconsistencies, mistakes, or communication lapses in the way infrastructure is designed, deployed, or managed. The configuration files act as a singular source. These can be deployed several times over without risking errors.
If you would like to learn more about how to automate your infrastructure, or if you would like personalized guidance about implementing this in your organization, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org