The elasticity and scalability of the cloud provides lots of opportunity for automation. Some automation tools and services are provided by cloud vendors themselves. AWS, for example, offers CloudFormation for provisioning AWS resources programmatically, Microsoft has its Automation, and OpenStack has Heat. But all those services come with vendor lock: they’ll only deploy within their own environments. But if you’re looking for multi-vendor solutions, then you might be better off with HashiCorp’s open source Terraform, which can provision servers and services from just about any cloud platform.
Besides Terraform, HashiCorp is also the creator of the Vagrant, Packer, Serf, and Consul projects, and the commercial product Atlas.
Use Terraform to launch your application infrastructure
Terraform is meant to help you combine all the components you’ll need to build and launch your application infrastructure. You could, for instance, select a base server from AWS, DNS from cloudfare, and a postgres database from Heroku. Terraform will build a single application framework from across all these providers in parallel.
When you make changes to your configuration file, Terraform determines what needs updating and applies only incremental changes.
- Infrastructure as Code: Your complete infrastructure and services are defined using programmatically and versioned code. Code-defined infrastructure is generally easier to read and share with others.
- Execution Plans: The execution plan shows exactly what will happen when you apply a particular Terraform configuration, giving you clear visibility into the way your infrastructure will perform.
- Resource Graph : After your infrastructure has been built by Terraform, you can visualize your resources and gain insight into their dependencies.
Terraform Use Cases
Terraform’s flexibility and power mean that it will work across a very wide range of use cases.
- Muti-tier applications: A two-tier app uses a web/application server that’s powered by standalone database servers. Terraform will make sure that your database tier is available before the web servers are started and before attaching web nodes to a load balancer. A web or database tier can be easily scaled by modifying a single count configuration value.
- Muti-cloud deployment: You may want to deploy your application across multiple platforms for fault tolerance or disaster recovery. While many infrastructure orchestration tools are cloud vendor specific, Terraform is cloud-agnostic. By using a single configuration file, you can deploy your application on resources from multiple cloud providers.
- Heroku app setup: We addressed the “what is Heroku” question in a previous post. Terraform can be used to codify the Heroku application set up process, ensuring that all required add-ons (like configuring DNSimple to create a CNAME record or setting up cloudfare as your CDN) are available.
- Software demos: You can provide a sample Terraform configuration file to create, provision and bootstrap a demo on cloud providers like AWS to your end users and clients, who could also quickly tweak resource parameters according to their needs.
- Disposable environments: In a SDLC process you will create environments like QA, Staging, Load Testing, and Production. Some of these environments don’t always have to be running. As your Terraform-based infrastructure is code-based, you can easily build and destroy your infrastructure according to need.
- Identical environments: If you need reliably reproducible environments across your application life cycle, Terraform configurations can be dropped in (and out) on demand to build staging, QA or dev deployments.
- Software Defined Networking: AWS VPCs, for example, are among the most commonly used SDN implementations, and can be codified by Terraform.
Installing Terraform (Linux)
Here’s how you can very quickly and simply install Terraform on your Linux system. There are also 32 and 64-bit packages available for Mac OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD.
- Download the appropriate package for your OS.
- Add Terraform to your system path.
- Verify the installation by typing terraform on your command prompt
The following cloud providers are supported by Terraform:
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
Deploying a two tier application on AWS using Terraform
Now that Terraform is installed on your Linux system, use this simple “terraform init” example from your command prompt to quickly deploy a two tier application to AWS (note: you may incur usage costs from AWS as a result).
terraform init github.com/hashicorp/terraform/examples/aws-two-tier
To generate and show an execution plan, run
cd into your git-cloned directory and then run
Terraform will interactively ask for account authentication and access data like your AWS Keys, Region, and AMI. Your resources will be provisioned on AWS and a sample nginix application will be deployed on those servers.
When you are done, clean up your resources by running
Do you have your own experiences with or plans for Terraform? Let us hear from you in the comments.
Two New EC2 Instance Types Announced at AWS re:Invent 2018 – Monday Night Live
Let’s look at what benefits these two new EC2 instance types offer and how these two new instances could be of benefit to you. Both of the new instance types are built on the AWS Nitro System. The AWS Nitro System improves the performance of processing in virtualized environments by...
Google Cloud Certification: Preparation and Prerequisites
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has evolved from being a niche player to a serious competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In 2018, research firm Gartner placed Google in the Leaders quadrant in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service for the first time. In t...
Understanding AWS VPC Egress Filtering Methods
Security in AWS is governed by a shared responsibility model where both vendor and subscriber have various operational responsibilities. AWS assumes responsibility for the underlying infrastructure, hardware, virtualization layer, facilities, and staff while the subscriber organization ...
S3 FTP: Build a Reliable and Inexpensive FTP Server Using Amazon’s S3
Is it possible to create an S3 FTP file backup/transfer solution, minimizing associated file storage and capacity planning administration headache?FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a fast and convenient way to transfer large files over the Internet. You might, at some point, have conf...
Microservices Architecture: Advantages and Drawbacks
Microservices are a way of breaking large software projects into loosely coupled modules, which communicate with each other through simple Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).Microservices have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The modular architectural style,...
What Are Best Practices for Tagging AWS Resources?
There are many use cases for tags, but what are the best practices for tagging AWS resources? In order for your organization to effectively manage resources (and your monthly AWS bill), you need to implement and adopt a thoughtful tagging strategy that makes sense for your business. The...
How to Optimize Amazon S3 Performance
Amazon S3 is the most common storage options for many organizations, being object storage it is used for a wide variety of data types, from the smallest objects to huge datasets. All in all, Amazon S3 is a great service to store a wide scope of data types in a highly available and resil...
How to Optimize Cloud Costs with Spot Instances: New on Cloud Academy
One of the main promises of cloud computing is access to nearly endless capacity. However, it doesn’t come cheap. With the introduction of Spot Instances for Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS EC2) in 2009, spot instances have been a way for major cloud providers to sell sp...
What are the Benefits of Machine Learning in the Cloud?
A Comparison of Machine Learning Services on AWS, Azure, and Google CloudArtificial intelligence and machine learning are steadily making their way into enterprise applications in areas such as customer support, fraud detection, and business intelligence. There is every reason to beli...
How to Use AWS CLI
The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is for managing your AWS services from a terminal session on your own client, allowing you to control and configure multiple AWS services.So you’ve been using AWS for awhile and finally feel comfortable clicking your way through all the services....
AWS Summit Chicago: New AWS Features Announced
Thousands of cloud practitioners descended on Chicago’s McCormick Place West last week to hear the latest updates around Amazon Web Services (AWS). While a typical hot and humid summer made its presence known outside, attendees inside basked in the comfort of air conditioning to hone th...
From Monolith to Serverless – The Evolving Cloudscape of Compute
Containers can help fragment monoliths into logical, easier to use workloads. The AWS Summit New York was held on July 17 and Cloud Academy sponsored my trip to the event. As someone who covers enterprise cloud technologies and services, the recent Amazon Web Services event was an insig...