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You may be wondering what really is infrastructure as code and its advantages? I can imagine when you’re building a new website or app, the last thing you want to do is manage servers, spend hours installing and configuring software and then be unsure if everything was done correctly. Infrastructure as code helps eliminate these problems by managing all of these things for you as part of your build process. So what is it?
What is infrastructure as code?
Infrastructure as code (IaC) refers to a software development process that’s designed to automate the management of both third-party and internal systems. IaC differs from traditional software development in two important ways.
First, it facilitates the creation and ongoing maintenance of services, which may have previously been done manually. Second, it helps automate processes like deployment and servicing, which are often done manually.
The use of IaC has become increasingly important throughout the software industry as companies rush to move to an agile model that emphasizes automation within development projects.
Why Infrastructure as code?
IaC is replacing the old style of software development in a few important ways. First, IaC is a great way to ensure that all technical stakeholders (developers, operations teams and QA groups) are involved in the development process. In addition, IaC helps to set up processes for continuous integration, testing and release that provide you an efficient pipeline to follow from day one of a project.
What is an Infrastructure pipeline?
In IaC, a pipeline is a series of steps that are executed (usually by automation) to create and maintain an environment in which your application or service can run. A pipeline has four distinct stages:
- “Planning” – This is the stage during which developers and management plan out their infrastructure needs and negotiate the necessary resources needed to support those needs. Once everyone involved in the process agrees on the specifications for the new environment, they’ll move on to the next stage. The planning stage occurs at two points in time: once before development even begins and then again after code has been written but before it is ready for testing or release.
- “Building” – During the building stage, infrastructure is deployed and configured according to the specifications negotiated in the planning phase. When this process is completed, developers can access their new environment in order to begin testing. The building stage usually takes place right before a new environment is needed.
- “Testing” – The goal of testing is to ensure that the system as a whole operates properly and according to specifications. This may involve functional and performance tests or even end user validation through A/B testing or other means. Testing can be done by either development teams (if they’re responsible for producing the system) or QA teams (if they’re responsible for reviewing it).
- “Release” – At this point, the system is stable enough to be deployed to production. This is most often done by operations staff (sometimes called “ops”) and involves the deployment of the software or system to a server(s).
By delegating tasks that were previously done manually and automating those tasks, IaC can help save time on day-to-day tasks that may have been very time-consuming in the past. For example, if you’re an operations team member responsible for installing software or updating a server, IaC can take some of those responsibilities off your plate and allow you more time to spend on other duties.
IaC can also help developers develop and maintain their applications faster by automating critical processes that were traditionally done manually. For example, developers may be able to create a deployment pipeline that will automatically compile the source code, build the caching layers and deploy on an automated basis. This can result in just about any developer having access to the most recent version of their application with minimal effort.
In addition, IaC can enable DevOps teams to better manage software application deployments by giving them greater visibility into server environments. By adding this kind of visibility into your build process, you’ll have the opportunity to get a more complete overview of your environment and make more informed decisions about which services need updates when they do.
There are quite a few different ways to implement IaC. This is a choice you’ll want to make based on your specific needs and the tooling you plan on using in this process. As a general rule, the more extensive your infrastructure requirements, the more you’ll want to invest in automation and orchestration tools.
Automation tools have to be reliable and secure, simple to use and well-documented. They must allow fast and secure communication between your systems and other developers who will be building against them. They must support the application lifecycle and easily integrate into your development process.
It’s important to note that in addition to using the tools, environment and processes we’ve discussed here, it’s also important to have a team of people who are connected with other systems and can provide support when new issues arise.
This way, you’ll ensure that you have all the tools needed to be successful, while also helping your company take full advantage of these technologies as they become more popular.
In an ideal world every developer would be able to build and deploy applications with virtually no technical assistance or need for operations staff at all. However, this is not the case today and so we’ll have to learn how to work within this software development ecosystem by utilizing the best practices that are available today.
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