Aug 24 2021

What Businesses Need to Know About Infrastructure as Code

Still manually configuring your network, firewalls and operating systems? IaC reduces risk and saves time and money.

Still manually configuring your network, firewalls and operating systems? Infrastructure as Code reduces risk and saves time.

What Is Infrastructure as Code?

Infrastructure as Code is a way of configuring a data center environment, including the network, firewalls, servers and operating systems, with text-based definitions of how the environment should look. These definitions are imported into an IaC toolkit, which produces the infrastructure, ready to run. Change a definition, and the change is applied universally.

What Is the Benefit of IaC?

IT managers have always had difficulty maintaining a well-documented and repeatable configuration database for their infrastructure. The result is usually expensive, inflexible and risky. When a change in the environment is necessary, things can go wrong fast. IaC is a self-documenting way to take control over infrastructure, reduce risk and costs, and deliver much more flexible computing environments.

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How Does IaC Interact with Existing Infrastructure?

IaC works best when it completely controls at least one element: a server, a hypervisor, a firewall, etc. IT managers can start slowly and move one element at a time, but once they start to configure an element using IaC tools, they should commit to that approach. IaC really pays off, however, when it controls multiple synchronized elements, such as the chain all the way from an application through the network, firewall and load balancer. 

How Does the Cloud Enable IaC?

IT managers see Infrastructure as a Service providers such Microsoft as an opportunity to start from scratch with a clean and well-managed environment. When IaC drives the configuration — instead of a system administrator clicking around an interface — the result is a repeatable and well-understood system.

How Should Businesses Get Started with IaC?

The best-known cross-platform tools are Chef, Puppet and Ansible. IT managers who have selected Amazon Web Services for their cloud environments can also use AWS’ own CloudFormation tool for IaC. These tools aren’t the only options. For example, Microsoft’s PowerShell has an IaC-focused feature called Desired State Configuration that can be part of an IaC toolkit.