Infrastructure as Code Tools, Automating Hosting Environments

Written by Full-Stack Developer

April 8, 2024
Infrastructure as Code Tools, Automating Hosting Environments

What’s the need to manage IT infrastructure, and what does IT Infrastructure even mean?

Infrastructure is the physical and virtual components required to implement and operate systems and networks, and overall organize IT environments. As Developers, hosting applications is paramount, for instance, web applications are hosted on a cloud-based platform, and would require management of resources e.g. servers, storage, networking, security, monitoring, deployment, etc.

Imagine having to handle all of this resources manually, hectic right!

The limitations of manually setting up and managing IT infrastructure brought about an approach to automate management and provisioning of infrastructure resources, this modern approach is called Infrastructure as Code.

We’ll be exploring what IAC means, the benefits and also the tools available for automating hosting environments.

What is Infrastructure as Code?

Infrastructure as code is an IT practice that manages IT infrastructure through code. This enables developers or teams to automatically, manage and provision resources. In simpler terms, IAC means setting up your infrastructure, as code.

According to definition by microsoft, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a key DevOps practice that involves the management of infrastructure, such as networks, compute services, databases, storages, and connection topology, in a descriptive model. IAC enables teams to create and release changes faster and with greater confidence.

Traditionally systems administrators, developers and DevOps Engineers would configure and manage Infrastructure components such as servers, databases, networking equipment, software applications, etc. manually, which required a command-line interface to set and adjust configurations.

In recent times, thanks to the evolvement of DevOps practices, rather than configuring physical or virtual devices on an interactive command line, systems are deployed from code in scripts.

Infrastructure as Code Approaches

There are two ways to approach infrastructure as code [IAC], and they are;

Declarative (Functional): This approach uses defined syntax to describe the desired state of the resources, the system then figures out how to reach that state. What this means is that we communicate with the computer (underlying software, hardware or tools) using set of rules and structure specifying what we want the end result to be. The computer figures out how to achieve our request.

Key Point:

  • The developer or user describes desired state

  • The System determines how to reach desired state

Imperative (Procedural): This approach uses step by step definition to define resources, where the programmer defines what the system needs to do to get the desired state. This means you give the computer explicit instructions on what to do to achieve a goal.

Key Points:

  • The developer or user provides Step-by-Step definition on the desired state

  • Developer or DevOps defines or highlights approach on how to achieve desired state.

Implementation of IAC

Implementing Infrastructure as code tools vary depending on the complexity of project, the tools, the organizations requirement etc. A basic implementation would require the following;

  • Choose and Install a tool: Select a tool that corresponds with your requirements, and install on your local machine or dedicated host.

  • Define infrastructure resources: Create configuration file that specifies infrastructure resources required for your system or application.

  • Provision your infrastructure: Set up necessary hardware and software components.

  • Test and Iterate: Run tests to ensure that the provisioned resources are adequate. Iterate configuration based on test results.

  • Deploy Application: Deploy application on configured infrastructure

  • Monitor and Manage: Integrate monitoring tools to track health and performance of the application.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Infrastructure as Code


Speed and efficiency
Cost Efficient
Alignment with DevOps
Reduce Human Errors
Source Control

Learning Curve
Repository Malfunction

Advantages of Infrastructure as Code

Speed and efficiency: tasks are automated, reducing time and effort required for setup and configuration. E.g. with a single line of code, you can deploy your entire infrastructure or destroy your infrastructure or resources with a single line of code.

Consistency: Configuration across different environments are uniform, this reduces the risk of manual error.

Cost Efficient: Automation of provisioning and de-provisioning of infrastructure can save cost. This means that you can create and destroy resources / components automatically.

Alignment with DevOps: IAC promotes efficient collaboration between DevOps teams and operations teams.

Reduce Human Errors: IAC reduces the risk that comes with manually configuring processes.

Compatibility: IAC provides flexibility when employing diverse hosting environments and platform.

Security: IAC enables you to define security policies, configure access controls, monitoring and logging tools which reduces the risk of inconsistencies that could lead to noncompliance or security weaknesses.

Source Control: Code can be tracked in source control for transparency and culpability.

Collaboration: IAC and Git can be combined especially working in a team where you may need to share code. You can version infrastructure to monitor all changes made and in case there's an error or issue, rolling back to a working state is possible.

Limitations of Infrastructure as Code

Learning Curve: IAC requires additional tools that may pose a learning curve and additional error. E.g. Tools like terraform use domain specific language like HCL, JSON or YAML. This means you and other team members would have to learn and understand the syntax including supported and unsupported features even though these languages are made to be easy to understand.

Complexity: Growing or large infrastructure can become more complex to manage especially for individuals new to the infrastructure or the entire configuration.

Repository Malfunction: When the central repository fails it can impact deployment and management across the infrastructure.

Infrastructure as Code Tools

Typically, to manage your IAC resources, you’ll select a hosting platform or cloud-based service, log in to the console, go through the menu, and select the right key to deploy your resources. However, using IAC, all you need to do is find a service that supports IAC or integration with IAC tools. Write your code that defines what you want your infrastructure to look like, and then the code would deploy the resources.

Here are list of tools that can be used to automate and manage hosting environment;

Terraform: Terraform is an IAC tool used to manage infrastructure resources, using a declarative language. Teraform allows you to define IAC, version, control it, and apply changes in ways that are predictable and repeatable.

Ansible: Ansible is an open source command line IT automation software application that can be used to configure systems, deploy software. It focuses on security and reliability and uses YAML to describe automated tasks making it easy for configuration management.

Azure Resource Manager: Azure Resource Manager is a component of Microsoft azure developed by Microsoft and released in 2014 that allows users deploy and manage resources in a declarative manner. It’s dedicated to azure only, uses JSON for defining resources and CLI for execution.

AWS Cloud Formation: AWS cloud formation allows you model, manage and provision AWS and third-party resources using IAC principles. You can automate, test and deploy infrastructure templates with CI/CD automations. Templates are written in JSON or YAML

Pulumi: Pulumi allows you define your infrastructure as code, and the code deploys resources. You can define your infrastructure using traditional programming language like python, JavaScript or Java unlike Terrafrom which uses languages like HCL or JSON. Pulumi gives access to language’s package manager and all its 3rd party libraries as well as the tooling and ecosystem e.g. Testing, Linting, Formatting etc.

SaltStack: Saltstack or salt Open source software used for automation, remote task execution and configuration management. It executes commands across multiple servers remotely and uses a master-minion / declarative approach to manage configuration.

Google Cloud Development Manager: GCDM is an Infrastructure deployment service that automates creation and management of Google cloud platform resources. You can develop templates and configuration file, and use them to create deployments, as well, you can specify resources in a declarative format using YAML.

Chef: Chef is an IAC tool that can be used to manage your infrastructure. It uses Ruby language and domain specific language to define infrastructure, configuration and automate deployment of resources.

Puppet: Puppet tool is used for IAC and configuration management, it uses it own language called puppet DSL to define infrastructure. It is used for deploying, configuring and managing servers.



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Simplifying hosting and cloud management is crucial because of how much data needs to be processed. IAC delivers significant benefits in automating hosting environments, it reduces time and effort required to manage hosting environments, and simplifies the complexity of managing, monitoring and maintaining resources. Choosing an IAC Tools depends on the project or organization requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I integrate edge computing into my existing IT infrastructure?

Integration involves assessing your current infrastructure, identifying compatibility issues, and implementing solutions to bridge the gap. Consult with experts and consider modular and flexible edge solutions.

What is the Importance of IT Infrastructure in E-Business?

IT infrastructure is vital for E-Business, serving as the backbone for digital processes. It supports internal operations, customer interactions, and data management, ensuring the seamless integration of technology into various aspects of business.

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