Devops

Terraform Roadmap 2024

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In a rapidly evolving digital world, having a supportive, updated, and efficient infrastructure setup is vital for any IT company. To keep up with the recent trends, one can easily modify their infrastructure. 

While the traditional method involves multiple complex steps, such as manual configurations and running scripts, the modern IT world relies on Infrastructure as Code to help gain reliability, consistency, and repeatability in modifying infrastructure, making the process easier.

Therefore, Infrastructure as Code, or IaC, is one of the leading sectors in the rapidly developing digital world. Among various tools, Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, plays a pivotal role in cloud infrastructure management. 

Ranked as no.1 for configuration management, Terraform holds 32.78% of the market share

What Is Terraform?

Terraform is an IaC tool that enables human-readable file configuration for cloud and on-prem resources. It allows you to version, share, and reuse these resources to help build a consistent workflow across different cloud providers.

With Terraform's help, you can easily manage all your infrastructure, from computing and network resources to DNS entries and SaaS features. It provides a simple code format to help set up, update, and manage these safely and efficiently.

Following are the key features of Terraform that one must be familiar with:

  • Terraform allows you to define your infrastructure in a configuration file, which can then be used to manage resources across different cloud providers. Therefore, Terraform supports Infrastructure as Code.
  • It uses declarative syntax for easy processing. With this feature, you only need to define the desired state of your infrastructure, while Terraform will follow the steps required to achieve it.
  • Tracking the current state of the infrastructure in a state file enables easy planning and monitoring of changes to the infrastructure.
  • Configurations can be version-controlled with tools like Git for easy rollback of changes.

With its multi-cloud compatibility and version control features, Terraform is a popular IaC tool commonly used in successful DevOps practices.

Terraform’s Work Model

Terraform is a declarative coding tool that allows developers to modify infrastructure through coding languages to run an application. A vessel enabling Infrastructure as Code, Terraform can be used for both cloud and local infrastructure management.

Terraform works on a high-level configuration language called the HashiCorp Configuration Language or HCL. This human-readable language is popular for its clear syntax and structure, making it highly user-friendly. 

One of the most used infrastructure automation tools available currently, here is a brief guide on how Terraform works:

Write

Start by defining the resources across different cloud providers and services. For this, you must write code and store it in a version-controlled repository. You should run plans when authoring your configuration to ensure the best results, as it helps remove syntax errors. 

When working on a team, every individual can store their changes to the configuration in version control branches. This prevents interference in work and enables the team to resolve changes that are incompatible with each other.

Plan

Terraform will create an execution plan, showing how it will update, destroy, or make the infrastructure based on your configuration and existing infrastructure.

Apply

Once you approve the plan, Terraform will perform the task. Before applying the changes, it is best to move your version control repository to a remote location, enabling its use in the process for any further changes. 

Destroy

You can also run the destroy command to delete all the resources being managed in the working directory and workspace, after which the apply command is completed. This command helps remove the need to edit the configuration by deleting the resources from the configuration. Therefore, it is useful when you need to provision similar resources. 

Terraform performs these changes through the application programming interfaces (APIs) of the cloud platforms and services.

Getting Started With Terraform

To use Terraform to modify and update infrastructure using the Infrastructure as Code facility, you will need to download and install the application from the official website. In addition, you must create a repository in a version control system such as Git to help store your configurations.

Once you have these two tools, you must familiarise yourself with the different concepts and terminologies used in Terraform applications, including:

  1. Configuration: This refers to a complete document in the HCL language that instructs Terraform on managing a given collection of infrastructure. It consists of multiple directories and files.
  2. Modules: These are containers for multiple resources that are used together. This enables complex resources to be automated with reusable constricts. 
  3. Child Modules: These refer to modules called by other modules to make configuration and assembly easier. 
  4. State File: It represents the current state of the Terraform configuration. Terraform utilises state data to assign a real-world object to each resource in the configuration. 
  5. Provider: This refers to plugins that help implement resource types and carry the code required to authenticate and connect to a service. These can be sourced from the Terraform registry .
  6. Terraform CLI: The command line interface for Terraform - the terraform command accepts multiple other subcommands. 

Terraform Roadmap 2024

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Once familiar with the interface, you can start writing code for different infrastructure configurations and allowing Terraform to test and apply them. The common steps include:

  1. Initializing working directories that contain the configuration files written in HCL.
  2. Authenticating CLI with the HCP account for support and ease of use.
  3. Importing existing infrastructure resources.
  4. Writing and modifying the terraform code to create configurations.
  5. Inspection and transformation of data using different commands to help integrate tools and understand the infrastructure better.
  6. Provisioning infrastructure with planning, applying, and destroying commands.

Editions Of Terraform

Terraform offers three editions to help different levels of technical and collaboration challenges. These include the following: 

Terraform Community

A free, downloadable tool, Terraform Community is the most basic version that allows you to manage infrastructure on any cloud provider. It uses a common configuration language, enabling you to store your configurations in a version control system.

Using Terraform Community, you can publish public infrastructure templates known as modules for easier and more efficient deployment. 

Terraform HCP

Terraform HCP is highly beneficial for teams and designed to enhance the core workflow by simplifying and streamlining collaboration points. It provides a centralised location for the storage of input variables and states.

In addition, it enables the interaction of terraform configuration through CLI integration. To facilitate streamlined teamwork, you can provide an HCP Terraform API key to the team member who needs to edit the configuration and run plans on the latest version of the state file.

When a pull request is ready at the planning stage, HCP Terraform sends status updates to track the progress. Upon running the plan, it highlights any changes in the speculative plan, allowing for an easier judgement on whether the pull request should be applied.

Terraform Enterprise

This version of Terraform offers customisable resources. Ideal for maintaining compliance, Terraform Enterprise enables the setting up of a private instance and accommodates advanced security requirements. 

It also allows easy scale-up and private networking for privacy. 

Benefits Of Using Terraform

With its advanced features, easy-to-use interface, and unique offerings, Terraform is one of the best IaC tools used in the market. Following are a few benefits of using Terraform:

  1. It supports multiple cloud providers, such as Google Cloud and Azure, and therefore has multi-cloud compatibility.
  2. Terraform enables the automation of infrastructure provisioning and management, helping fasten deployment and reducing the chances of human errors.
  3. It offers configuration consistency through the use of templates and modules. This also adds to the easy reusability of the IaC.
  4. It can be easily scaled, making it ideal for multiple deployments.
  5. Terraform offers quick testing for validation of the changes when modifying the infrastructure. This lowers the risk of errors and downtime.
  6. With Terraform, developers can easily share configurations between different cloud providers, therefore adding to its flexibility,
  7. Terraform also enables productivity and efficiency through its automation features. 

Terraform is, therefore, an ideal tool for managing infrastructure as code with its multi-cloud support, modules and providers, flexibility, ease of use, and developer community.

Terraform Use Cases

Terraform finds wide applications in helping to use infrastructure as code and modify it. With a consistent workflow, you can efficiently provision and manage the infrastructure throughout its lifecycle. Following are a few common ways in which Terraform is widely used:

Multi-Cloud Deployment

With Terraform, you can use the same workflow to manage infrastructure on multiple cloud providers, helping ease management for large-scale infrastructures. 

Application Infrastructure Scaling and Monitoring Tools

Terraform is most commonly used to deploy, scale, and monitor infrastructure for multi-tier applications. Since it automatically handles dependencies between the tiers, it makes the functioning easier and seamless.

Self-Service Clusters

You can also build a self-serve infrastructure model using Terraform, enabling you to deploy standard services across your organisation to maintain compliance.

Software Defined Networking

Terraform can also interact with Software Defined Networks or SDNs and perform automated network configuration according to the requirements. This helps omit the ticket-based workflow, therefore improving deployment. 

Parallel Environments

With growing production, it can be difficult to maintain different environments for varying stages of the development process. Using Terraform, you can easily create disposable environments as required. 

Best Practices For Terraform Development

With its wide applicability, Terraform requires a certain level of dedication and tools for the best outcome. Following are a few tips to maximise the efficiency of Terraform:

  1. Invest in a version control system to enable branching, merging, and tracking changes.
  2. Use the Terraform workspace to manage projects and collaborate in different environments.
  3. Take advantage of the automated testing frameworks to help validate Terraform configurations.
  4. Use a branching strategy for every infrastructure change to enable better tracking and testing. 
  5. Integrate CI/CD pipelines to help automate the deployment process.
  6. Establish a code review process to allow your team to review the changes.
  7. Creating reusable modules to help enable code reuse.
  8. Use a secret management solution to store sensitive information.
  9. Adopt a method to regularly check for any drift between the desired and actual state. 
  10. Regularly browse Terraform documentation to expand your knowledge and stay up-to-date with recent developments.

Useful Commands for Terraform

CommandDescription
terraform init
Initializes a new or existing Terraform configuration.
terraform plan
Creates an execution plan, showing what actions Terraform will take without making any changes.
terraform apply
Applies the changes required to reach the desired state of the configuration.
terraform destroy
Destroys the Terraform-managed infrastructure.
terraform validate
Validates the Terraform files for syntax errors.
terraform fmt
Formats the Terraform files to a canonical style.
terraform refresh
Updates the state file with the latest information from the infrastructure.
terraform show
Provides a human-readable output from a state or plan file.
terraform output
Extracts the value of an output variable from the state file.
terraform state
Advanced state management commands.
terraform workspace
Manages workspaces for separating different environments.
terraform import
Imports existing infrastructure into your Terraform state.
terraform graph
Creates a visual representation of the Terraform resources.
terraform taint
Marks a resource for recreation during the next apply.
terraform untaint
Removes the tainted mark from a resource.
terraform console
Provides an interactive console for evaluating expressions.
terraform providers
Lists the providers required for the configuration.
terraform version
Displays the Terraform version.
terraform get
Downloads and installs modules needed for the configuration.
terraform init -backend-config
Configures the backend settings for the current configuration.
terraform plan -out
Saves the plan to a file for later execution.
terraform apply -auto-approve
Applies changes without requiring interactive approval.
terraform destroy -auto-approve
Destroys infrastructure without requiring approval.
terraform plan -destroy
Creates an execution plan to destroy all resources managed by the configuration.
terraform state mv
Moves an item in the state file.
terraform state rm
Removes an item from the state file.
terraform state pull
Retrieves the current state from the remote backend.
terraform state push
Updates the remote backend with the local state.

Summing Up

Terraform is undoubtedly a leading IaC tool that enables infrastructure management with configuration files. Terraform uses human-readable language to make it easy to build, manage, and change the infrastructure consistently and safely.

You can seamlessly manage your infrastructure's lifecycle by defining resource configurations that you can reuse, share, and version. Terraform's automated testing of versions supports This.

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