As I said above, I wanted to get into some of the examples of actually some of the tools used to provision your infrastructure using code, terraform use the terms “Execution Plans” to describe the way your code is deployed.
Terraform was created by a company called Hashicop they have a number of really good tools in this space.
The biggest pull factor for me and why I wanted to kick things off with Terraform is because Terraform is cloud agnostic or pretty much any infrastructure agnostic as you can use Terraform with you on premises vSphere environment as well as AWS, Azure and GCP Cloud Platforms. Below is a link to an awesome but simple introduction to Terraform. All of these resources can be found here amongst other training material around other tools available.
Azure Resource Manager Templates
Up until today I would have put the ability of using PowerShell in Azure to deploy my Resource Groups and Storage Accounts was IAC. I was wrong, the code itself could form some of that IAC effort but alone in a PowerShell script this is not IAC.
IAC in an Azure world is determined around Azure Resource Templates. A Declarative way of saying this is how I want the end state to be within my Azure environment. These are defined in a JSON file and they allow you to determine how and what your resource and infrastructure looks like.
These templates can be deployed through PowerShell, Azure CLI or through the Azure console.
The biggest thing that needs to happen here and the benefit of IAC is understanding and being able to use versioning, a good example of versioning would be using GIT this allows for source control so you can see when things have changed to the configuration code.
There are alternatives to GIT but I am pretty confident as a noob here that GIT is the mostly used out there, and really I am not looking to be a programmer I just need to understand and potentially be able to act upon a little but not be a fully-fledged and knighted into the Developer kingdom.
Azure DevOps is another resource to mention here. Azure DevOps allows for your developers to collaborate on code development, again this could be a little outside the IAC remit, but there may be some use cases where it is absolutely required as part of IAC.
Azure Repos are leveraged to centrally store code but there are a lot of other Azure services that coexist in here and potentially worth reading some more here if interested.
What was interesting in the resource video stated below “Infrastructure as code for the IT administrator” the presenter also touches on Continuous Deployment and Azure Pipelines. I found this very interesting in that by pushing changes to GIT it would automatically deploy those committed changes to the pipeline or workflow.
I think the example that John Savill uses in the demo is very simple and to be honest that task could be quicker using the UI but obviously he didn’t have endless amounts of time to walk through a more aligned example of this but I think it is the best resource I have seen today where it explains what IAC is and why it should be absolutely considered.
I think by now we are clear that Infrastructure As Code is about yes code but it’s probably more important to remember that it’s about version control and a Declarative way of saying this is how I want the end state to be within my environment, whichever environment you wish that to be.
Now a question I have at this point is we first talked about Terraform and we stated how it was agnostic to the environment it can be used with vSphere, AWS, Azure etc etc now colour me silly but am I right in thinking that Azure Resource Templates mentioned in the last section and AWS CloudFormation are fixed to their public cloud offerings?
This is quite an old resource but this completely makes sense to me – https://www.techdiction.com/2017/08/24/migrating-aws-cloudformation-templates-to-azure-resource-manager-templates/
I am still convinced that maybe Terraform is the right fit but I might be missing something fundamental here.
In the same way I mentioned in the Azure section and the nature of templates. AWS Cloud Formations use templates also which is a JSON file.
That JSON file serves as a blueprint to define the configuration of all the AWS resources that make up your infrastructure and application stack or you can select a sample pre-built templates that CloudFormation provides for commonly used architectures such as a lamp stack running on Amazon ec2 and Amazon RDS.
Upload your template to CloudFormation, select parameters such as the number of instances or instance types if necessary then CloudFormation will provision and configure your AWS resource stack.
Update your CloudFormation stack at any time by uploading a modified template through the AWS management console or command line.
You can check your template into version control so it’s possible to keep track of all changes made to your infrastructure and application stack.
CloudFormation brings the ability to leverage version control your infrastructure architecture the same way you would with software code.
Provisioning infrastructure seems as simple as creating and uploading a template to CloudFormation.
My first thought here now that I have touched on 3 of the most commonly used IAC tools in the industry today is that whichever one you use this makes it very simple and easy to replicate your infrastructure again and again either for additional site rollouts or test and development scenarios.
The ability to easily and quickly spin up a replica of your production environment for development and test with just a few clicks in this case the AWS management console and then quickly tear it down when finished and rebuild and rinse and repeat that process whenever you want. Manually this was always going to be a pain point and although yes IAC is apparent today in the traditional on premises world it’s reliant on having the physical hardware in place to make this happen unless software or application stack only in which case that could work if resources were spare. In the Public Cloud with those infinite resources this is a great story to be told.
Google Cloud Deployment
Typically Google Cloud Platform is the one Public Cloud out of the above 2 already mentioned that I have not really had any dealings with at all, so when I come to look for resource on Google Cloud Deployment, there is very little out there, great from a content creation point of view if you know your way around the platform, rubbish if you are learning.
Although looking at the product page. It follows the same footprint as the above-mentioned tools but with a focus on the Google Cloud Platform.
- Simplify your cloud management
- Repeatable deployment process
- Declarative language
- Focus on the application
One thing at first glance that I really like about Google is that they seem to have the documentation down really well and depending on how we get on this summer I think before we see the end of 2019 I want to be in better shape to understand more about GCP.
GIT is a version control system, open source, distributed architecture. The reason for the mention is that it may be required. Generally I get the impression that this is used on projects where you have multiple developers and you need some version control, I thought it was worth mentioning though as there will be some use cases within IAC where this will be relevant and matter to Infrastructure admins.
This is a great resource that will actually allow you to walk through some use cases with GIT
I cannot take any credit for this collection of resources either used above or below, these were all shared on the show notes of CloudSkills.fm I will also keep adding resources here as I find good useful content to share.
I know this was a long post, but I think as a primer into each of the areas was enough and it didn’t seem long enough for each tool to have their own post. Also, you can probably tell that a lot of the content here is basically my notes. There is going to be a huge amount that I am sure I have missed but I wanted to get my views over on what I think or what I deem to be important as we move into this new world. Depending on time there is an endless amount of content, training and follow ups to go back to here and I really find this an interesting part of the future or as we move more and more into the Cloud Computing space.