Why Does IaC Matter?
IaC matters for three reasons. One is the transition to the cloud. More and more workloads are being moved from on-premises data centers to cloud environments. Nothing suggests that this trend is going to stop. However, cloud computing alone isn’t a panacea for maintaining scalable and reliable infrastructure. It’s just as possible to have an inconsistent, poorly documented set of scripts for cloud infrastructure as it is for a physical datacenter. IaC, because it enforces proven engineering practices, is how you make order out of the chaos.
The second reason is a greater sophistication in how people use the cloud. Companies are changing architectures, patterns, and ways of working to optimize the benefits they can get. It's no longer simply CapEx versus OpEx. It's about how to incorporate all the practices that make up the engineering lifecycle, such as versioning and testing to unlock all the value that the cloud can provide. It’s about using engineering practices to take advantage of the cloud’s potential and innovate faster to drive your business.
The third reason is that the burden of managing infrastructure in the cloud is increasing. The number of cloud services available is growing every year and more companies are adopting modern cloud architectures (like containers or serverless), which often have many loosely-coupled and interdependent components. The result is that the number of cloud resources that people must manage is going up at a tremendous pace. This is certainly a good thing because it means companies are getting more value from the cloud to drive their business forward, but the consequence is an increase in complexity and scale.
For example, one way to get more value from the cloud is to take advantage of the ever-growing number of services that cloud vendors are providing. Those services can speed innovation and accelerate velocity but remember that with every new service comes new APIs. Each new service adds complexity to the infrastructure.
Increased scale and complexity demand a modern approach to IaC to help you build, deploy, and manage your infrastructure. If you’re managing between 1 and 10 resources, point-and-click probably works fine. When you're managing between 10 and 100 resources, then “infrastructure as text” or legacy IaC tools might still suffice. But what happens when you have hundreds or thousands of resources, which is not at all uncommon today? On top of that, those thousands of resources change not once a month but multiple times a day. A great way to manage all this is to put in place the same software engineering practices and tools that you use for application code.
- How can I make sure my infrastructure scales, changes, and evolves rapidly enough to support the business and create a competitive advantage?
- How can I maintain visibility into my cloud infrastructure and any changes to it?
- How can I put in place the policies, security, and guardrails that will ensure safety and reliability?
- How can I best empower my teams to build, deploy, and manage infrastructure through better collaboration and processes?
A modern approach to IaC is needed to address these questions. It is the critical tool needed to harness the modern cloud through tried-and-true software engineering practices applied to infrastructure. IaC is how we can harness the cloud’s potential.