Infrastructure-as-a-Code: A guide for Decision Makers
Infrastructure-as-a-code is redefining IT infrastructure management as it yields lower downtime and errors and faster deployment leading to favorable business outcomes.
Constantly changing business environment is driving enterprises to adopt newer technologies in order to sustain and grow. Adoption of DevOps is a sign of enterprises’ need to adapt and respond quicker to changing business scenarios. Enterprises of all sizes from large to medium and small are embracing DevOps in a bid to remain competent and cater to customer needs.
The global DevOps market is set to touch $8.7 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 18% during 2017-2023. Enterprises benefit from DevOps as it provides a snapshot of the processes allowing IT managers to monitor and have tighter control. It also leads to integration of various tools used by stakeholders and helps to increase productivity.
Embracing DevOps has a lot to do with the existing IT infrastructure and this is where Infrastructure-as-a-code (IaC) comes into play.
What is IaC?
It is basically, applying software engineering to IT infrastructure to automatically manage and provision IT infrastructure components such as – Compute, Network and Storage resources, through code. In other words, through IaC, IT infrastructure is managed automatically without human intervention; it is also known as – programmable infrastructure.
‘’The idea of enabling IaC is that systems and devices that used to run software can be treated as if they, themselves, are software’’
- Kief Morris, Author - Infrastructure as a Code
IaC helps manage infrastructure and operations in lines similar to software management. It completely reduces dependency on manual configuration and customized scripts for making infrastructure changes. Rather, operations are managed in the same manner and under the same rules that assist in development of code.
IaC, Agile practices and DevOps – Connected and combined to bring in productivity
IaC by provisioning automated deployments and configuration adheres to the agile engineering methodology. Both DevOps and Agile practices aim to deliver products in shorter cycle times and with more efficiency. IaC facilitates an automated management of infrastructure leading to greater productivity and a faster time-to-market. In fact, IaC is a key element in maximizing workflow and reducing cycle time in continuous delivery and DevOps process.
‘’ IaC is more reliable, particularly if you use Agile engineering practices like test driven development, continuous integration and continuous delivery’’
At a macro level, IaC forms an integral part of DevOps on both non-functional requirements such as – scalability, security, operability, etc. and functional requirements that comprise various applications.
Benefits of IaC
Codifying infrastructure eliminates a lot of operational issues and presents various advantages. There are enough use cases of enterprises benefiting from IaC. Some of these benefits are –
- Enables better quality control and testing
- Enables more predictable and efficient deployments
- Enables a continuous delivery process
- Drastically reduces cycle times
- Indirectly, ensures a faster time-to-market
- Decreases mean time to recovery or MTTR
IaC goes beyond automation
IaC is usually perceived as an automation practice but it goes beyond that. IaC ensures scripts are free of error and they can be deployed and redeployed as per need. It also ensures that scripts are deployed on multiple servers at one go completely eliminating manual log-ins and documentation. The better part about IaC is that these scripts can be rolled back in case of issues.
For enterprises moving to cloud, IaC is one of the key elements through which DevOps practices are accessible. In fact, IaC can be executed both on-premise and on cloud. It goes without saying that IaC is much easier to be executed and deployed on cloud servers such as GCP, AWS, and Azure. One of the major advantages of deploying IaC on cloud is that it can be erased when requirements change.
Essential Tools for IaC management
Coding systems or tools, such as Chef, Puppet, Docker, Ansible, etc. are used by developers to access and manage IaC environments. Chef and Puppet, though early movers in this space, have their limitations. While Chef and Puppet are heavily dependent on agents for deployment, Ansible can be deployed independent of agents. It is a tool to reckon as it has a very simple configuration language enabling management of cloud instances without much modification.
Is there a much simpler and evolved tool to manage IaC?
Microland is pushing frontiers in IaC and applications deployment by focusing on developing tools that go beyond the functionalities of CM tools available currently. The company which has managed 2 million+ infrastructure objects is coming up with tools with at least two standout features -
- Tools that can deploy IaC and applications on Cloud environments, such as AWS, Azure independent of an expert
- Once applications are deployed, they can be migrated from one cloud environment to another, directly
Guiding the Decision Makers - CIOs and CXOs
Increased automation and minimal reliance on human interventions is changing the way CIOs view their roles. Going forward, CIOs will have redefined roles and will be more aligned with other CXOs to drive innovation, productivity and business growth. IaC is one practice that will be on the list of every CIO to embrace in order to cut down drastically on man hours and human interventions so resources can be diverted to core business areas. The ‘C’ suite folks are taking notice of the importance of IaC as a means to bring in greater efficiencies and faster time-to-market.