In traditional IT setups, business enterprises installed their hardware and network infrastructure in-house. The advent of the cloud changed all that. Companies can now increase their storage and computing capacities whenever they want to. According to Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD), 36% of business enterprises plan to improve their IT operations and system performance.
To meet modern business needs, companies need a technology infrastructure that revolves around three main principles: agility, scalability, and resilience. Hence, there is a growing "buzz" around the cloud-powered Infrastructure-as-a-Code (or IaC). In fact, industry experts believe that DevOps is not achievable without IaC.
This begs the question - is IaC development just a temporary buzz, or is there more to it? And how does it benefit enterprises that adopt it? Let's elaborate.
What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?
Infrastructure-as-Code or IaC is the practice of codifying and managing IT infrastructure as a software application. Using IaC, organizations can easily automate their infrastructural tasks without depending on any manual processes.
IaC uses a variety of programming languages and automation tools to manage the following infrastructure components:
- Storage devices
- Database systems
- Networking systems
Post-deployment, IT infrastructure is easy to manage and maintain with minimal human intervention. Effectively, IaC enables cloud users to program and manage their IT infrastructure like a software application. This means software can control virtualized hardware components. For instance, system administrators can start (or shut down) an IaC-controlled server from their code.
To that end, IaC is useful in defining infrastructural requirements like:
- How many servers are needed by the organization?
- What are the number of CPUs and overall memory requirements?
- Which software tool is needed?
- Which data sources need access?
- How are databases and load balancers configured?
What is the role of IaC in software development and DevOps? Let's discuss that next.
Using IaC in DevOps and Software Development
Like DevOps, Infrastructure as code enables version management of the infrastructure, including virtual machines, load balancers, and networks. It's a key practice in DevOps that enables continuous development.
Instead of making manual changes in server configurations, IaC manages the "operations" part of the IT infrastructure with the same rules that govern software code development.
This means IaC can apply the best practices of DevOps, including:
- Version Control
- Continuous Monitoring
Effectively, IaC in development environments resolves multiple problems such as:
Environment drift in the software release pipeline: Without IaC, development teams need to maintain their deployment environments.
Idempotence property of IaC: This is achievable by automatically configuring (or discarding) the existing target environment or creating a new environment.
How can Infrastructure as a Code benefit application development? Next, let us discuss a few benefits.
Benefits of IaC in Software Development
With IaC-based software engineering tools and infrastructure, DevOps engineers can now perform application testing in the production environment – early in the development cycle. DevOps teams can scale or provision test environments as and when they need them.
Here are some of the real-time benefits of IaC in software development:
Lower Infrastructure Overhead
Traditionally, IT infrastructure management was a manual process, with human resources physically installing and configuring servers. This led to multiple challenges like high overhead costs (in terms of hiring technical experts and infrastructural costs).
IaC reduces the overall infrastructure overhead through cloud hosting. For instance, data centers do not need data administrators to manage their computing, storage, and networking resources.
Efficient Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
With improved provisioning, application developers can now focus on their core skills without worrying about server configurations and computing resources. This leads to a more efficient SDLC. Additionally, they can create automation scripts and use them repeatedly, thus saving both time and effort.
Besides, DevOps teams can work together with the best IaC tools and practices to deliver high-quality applications (supported by a scalable underlying infrastructure).
Speed and Consistency
High speed is a significant benefit that Infrastructure as Code offers to application developers. With an automated script, companies can configure an IT environment across all phases, including app development, production, and QA.
IaC also enables consistency that is not guaranteed by manual processes. Manual infrastructure management (with human intervention) leads to frequent mistakes and discrepancies. IaC overcomes this problem by configuring files as the "single source of truth."
Now that we know the benefits, let's discuss some of the IaC best practices recommended for product development companies.
IaC Best Practices
With the right practices, IaC can leverage automation to boost productivity. Effectively, it can benefit organizations by reducing manual work and costs.
Here are some of the best practices of IaC that can maximize its benefits:
An immutable architecture or infrastructure is key to a successful IaC model. Immutability is the state where every component is built to exact specifications (without any individual deviations). With this practice, software teams need to rebuild the complete resource each time they want to update it.
For instance, if you want to update the virtual server, the immutable approach directs you to delete the existing server image and replace it with a new image.
Version control is another essential practice when it comes to updating configuration files. Just like version control of application code, IaC files are updated along with the overlying IT environment.
This practice enhances the traceability and visibility of the IaC environment. Version control is also useful when debugging issues or reverting to the previous version.
Among the best practices, DevOps teams can implement continuous testing and deployment. They can easily execute tests along with making incremental code changes many times. QA teams can implement multiple types of tests, including integration and regression tests.
Infrastructure as Code is emerging as the "lifeline" of DevOps environments. IaC enables faster development and continuous integration while freeing up developers from all provisioning-related activities.
Xoriant offers its global clients exceptional understanding of Infrastructure as Code options for software development that eliminate all manual provisioning and configuration errors. Our expertise ensures that your IT teams can easily adapt to frequent changes in IT infrastructure even as your software teams scale development goals.
Check out our related PDF: Infrastructure As Code Frameworks
Looking to leverage the cloud-powered IaC capabilities?