Infrastructure as code is a term that business owners and IT professionals are increasingly hearing more about these days—and for a good reason: it takes advantage of the benefits of the cloud.

Today, we’ll break down exactly what infrastructure as code is for those new to this concept, how to successfully manage your infrastructure as code, and the benefits it can provide for your organization.

Infrastructure as Code Defined

If you Google the definition of infrastructure as code, you’ll find the following:

“The process of managing and provisioning computer data centers through machine-readable definition files, rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools.”

But what does that mean? To get a better idea of the influence of infrastructure as code, it’s best to consider how infrastructure is traditionally managed.

Typically, a business will manage its infrastructure using a manual ticketing system. If someone who works with an organization’s infrastructure needs something done, they’ll file a ticket, and then someone will select that ticket and head to a management portal before pointing and clicking until the request is fulfilled.

But the landscape of infrastructure within organizations is changing dramatically. For example, many companies are now operating in a cloud environment. This is perhaps the most significant change.

Running infrastructure on the cloud allows the infrastructure to be highly scalable. This also means that manually managing your infrastructure daily is much more difficult as your infrastructure scales.

That’s where infrastructure as code comes in. Infrastructure as code, or IaC, is code that is used to both define and provision infrastructure. Because we have software-defined infrastructure, we can take the manual process of pointing and clicking and automate those processes.

Essentially, infrastructure as code is a way to automate your processes and smartly leverage the scalability and capability that the cloud provides.

Discerning Fact From Fiction About Infrastructure as Code

Often organizations either believe infrastructure as code is only for small startups or, conversely, is only for large enterprises. Neither of these beliefs is true. Any organization, no matter the size, can benefit from infrastructure as code.

Resistance to the idea that proper cloud-based DevOps should be utilized with IaC at the core often stems from legacy mindsets that began in the on-prem world. With this mentality, pointing and clicking to manually provision infrastructure seems easier than setting up DevOps tooling to leverage IaC.

The problem with this mindset is that as things scale, IT is burdened with the same problem—which is manually managing all of the infrastructure requests that come in through ticketing systems.

This kind of thinking often makes teams rely on specific individuals who have in-depth knowledge of the infrastructure. The knowledge is siloed with these individuals, and this creates a human dependency.

Even worse is when these individuals do use IaC but without the DevOps process and tooling to make it effective within teams. Often this results in the code residing on someone laptop or desktop computer effectively only allowing one person to control and leverage that code to deploy infrastructure.

Jeremy Pries, the Director of Cloud Infrastructure here at Agosto, calls this phenomenon the “superhero” complex.

“… situations like this have this sort of superhero complex that goes with it where an individual can develop the infrastructure as code from the ground up but only for themselves. It doesn’t work in a team approach…” says Pries.

Instead of having a ‘superhero’ store and run infrastructure as code, the code must be stored in a repository that keeps track of who made changes, when, and what the changes actually were. To implement IaC successfully, there are often several repositories separated by areas of responsibility.

“Take a network person, for example. They may manage just the network portion of the environment, and the rest of the team contributes at other levels,” concludes Pries.

This kind of thinking has several benefits, including maintaining a least privilege security model and separation of duties.

Benefits of Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as code requires an investment up front, but it’s an investment in the future. By beginning with the idea of automation and IaC, the reliability and security of your infrastructure are increased, allowing for faster iteration at scale.

Another benefit of infrastructure as code is the fact that you can more easily rebuild the environment. If your business is going through changes or needs to adapt, having an infrastructure that can easily be altered or replicated will help make transitions more smooth. Attempting these alterations with siloed tools or one-off hard scripts can be a much more chaotic and time-consuming process.

The flexibility of infrastructure as code is what makes it a truly great option. For example, it can be part of the disaster recovery plan or part of the duplication plan if there’s a need for new environments.

Getting Started With Infrastructure as Code

Perhaps the best way to get started with infrastructure as code is your access control. Provisioning things like projects and IAM roles and managing who has access is a great way to get your feet wet in this new way of doing things.

Agosto begins IaC engagements by implementing a Project Factory, which is the tooling needed to begin managing core infrastructure components like IAM, folders, and projects.

Interested in Learning More About Infrastructure as Code and DevOps? Contact Agosto Today!

At Agosto, we offer our opinionated DevOps services that include Project Factory and the patterns that you will need to manage your infrastructure successfully. Our approach revolves around four main ideas:

  • Making sure your organization is cloud-first (it is the new normal after all)
  • Going through iterative, incremental changes that will lead to big picture success
  • Increasing your velocity by leveraging Cloud DevOps
  • Making sure that infrastructure as code in a repository is at the core

Our Cloud DevOps is comprehensive and ensures that all stakeholders are positively impacted as a result.

Together, we’ll empower the developers of your organization to move efficiently with less stress, as well as place your business ahead of the competition with timely deployments of new functionality.

If you’d like to learn more about your Cloud DevOps services, check out our services page here!

And, if you want to hear more from Jeremy Pries and his expertise on infrastructure as code, listen or read the conversation he had with Han Kim, our principal architect, here.