Today’s businesses face ever-changing competitive landscapes. A crucial aspect of enabling businesses to meet these challenges is to have IT infrastructure that supports the speed required for organizational execution.
IT infrastructure is key to businesses because applications and transactions run on it. It handles data required for customer insight and the analytics to support business strategy. In addition, it is important for organizations who seek to develop a DevOps culture or microservices architectures.
This means it’s time to treat your infrastructure much like you would treat your software.
Provision Environments On Demand
Infrastructure as Code is the process of provisioning and managing infrastructure resources as code.
The implementation of Infrastructure as Code comprises of the ability to provision servers, build middleware, and install software that makes up the core components of the system architecture through code. This goes beyond just the scripting of an installation process.
The ability to provision IT infrastructure at speed, with reduced cost, increased reliability, and minimal risk is important to business success. A provisioning process takes place when infrastructure resources are automatically built and managed through code, rather than less flexible scripting or manual processes. It forms part of the full stack environment deployment, i.e. application and environment deployment required to meet business needs.
The definition of the exact procedures in the code for setting up infrastructure resources, applications, and network settings encourages a higher level of consistency in environments, and supports both application release strategies and DevOps. You can find this detailed in the 2nd edition of the Application Release and Deployment for Dummies eBook.
Infrastructure as Code addresses those challenges that have been commonplace in IT Departments for years, namely: long infrastructure provisioning lead time, little or no infrastructure documentation (or where this exist it is poorly maintained), managing infrastructure versioning, and repeatable deployment based on patterns and testing.
Tools such as UrbanCode Deploy with Patterns, IBM Cloud Orchestrator, Chef, Ansible, SaltStack, and Puppet among others provide the ability to implement Infrastructure as Code. While these tools form an important part of the Infrastructure as Code paradigm, they will need to be combined with the right processes and culture to get the desired results.
To meet the needs of enterprises today, these tools should be combined with tools that support release orchestration to ensure management of component dependencies, security, governance, and the ability to roll-back. Furthermore, it is important to state that Infrastructure as Code is not just about technology. It is equally crucial to have the right people, skills, and processes in place.
The ultimate drive is to have infrastructure that is completely programmable and application aware. To achieve this, a holistic ability to orchestrate all the infrastructure resources and aligned processes is crucial.
A key component to call out here is Software Defined Networking (SDN). Though not the focus of this blog, to achieve this holistic orchestration there is a dependency on the integration of compute, storage, and network resources. SDN enables organizations to establish a collection of reusable network templates that can be used to deploy virtualized networks with all the essential capabilities (switches, firewalls, load balancing, and more) already automated and orchestrated. When new applications are ready to be deployed into their target environments, the templates enable correctly defined virtualized networks to be provisioned quickly. This is required to achieve a truly agile IT infrastructure and to achieve the operational efficiency demanded by businesses today.
Infrastructure as Code brings a myriad of benefits to organizations such as agility, enhanced user experience, ability to achieve more granular security, reduced cost with respect to effort and provisioning time, automation, enhanced ability to meet compliance and audit requirements.