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Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering. Compare IaC tools for hybrid, multi-cloud environments Infrastructure-as-code tools come in two flavors: Keep these factors in mind to choose the right one. Share this item with your network: Tom Nolle CIMI Corporation The goal of infrastructure as code is to create a modular infrastructure — an abstraction of server resources — that enterprises can deploy repeatedly to ensure a consistent application platform.

With IaC tools, developers and operations teams can use templates to consistently deploy virtual resources based on their needs. Teams can also perform version control on the deployment and configuration scripts they use. IaC tools are divided into two primary groups: Third-party tools applicable to nearly any IaC mission Cloud provider’s native tools to help users optimize their application deployments Providers’ native IaC tools aren’t optimal for multi-cloud deployments.

And while enterprises can make most third-party tools work on any cloud platform or data center, those tools may not mesh with all cloud platforms. These tradeoffs make it important to carefully choose an IaC tool both for current and future requirements.

Third-party IaC tools HashiCorp’s Terraform , an open source product, is one of the best-known third-party IaC tools that supports a range of cloud vendors. Like all IaC tools, it creates models, or templates, that describe a configuration with a domain-specific language DSL , which makes it easy for developers to author and reuse templates.

Developers author and maintain Terraform templates the same as they would actual code. Teams can withdraw templates from version repositories to provision and configure infrastructure or to help develop other templates.

Terraform also has a plan-execute division, or phases, in the templates, so users can analyze the steps they define and double-check them before they apply them. Hybrid and multi-cloud users like this approach because it facilitates the transfer of configurations between environments. Both tools provide similar capabilities to Terraform at the basic level, but neither goes as far in its support for the full modularity of the IaC template code.

This lack of support limits how quickly developers can adopt these tools, as well as the ability to reuse templates. Terraform will likely become the Kubernetes of IaC for hybrid and multi-cloud users. Microsoft’s Azure Terraform Resource Provider enables Azure users to employ Terraform providers — a service that establishes the link between Terraform templates and cloud and data center infrastructure resources — just as they would native Azure resource providers.

With this integration, enterprises can use Terraform with virtually all Azure services. There are still some AWS features outside Terraform’s scope of operation — features that CloudFormation can handle easily.

Which is best? Amazon and Microsoft recognize Terraform’s value as an extension to their own IaC tools. And, as hybrid and multi-cloud models flourish, neither provider is prepared to incorporate the necessary features into its own IaC tools. These cloud providers’ tools will largely focus on single-cloud or simple hybrid deployments. If you plan to deploy complex applications in hybrid or multi-cloud with a large AWS focus, expect to use both CloudFormation and Terraform.

For now, it seems Terraform will likely become the Kubernetes of IaC for hybrid and multi-cloud users.

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VIDEO: Compare IaC tools for hybrid, multi-cloud environments

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