What Is Infrastructure as Code and Why Should I Be Using It?

By Alex Smart| March 20, 2019

Every IT environment is made up of complex and ever-changing infrastructure systems and applications that interact with and depend on each other to function. As business leaders race to capitalize on new technology, the ability to deliver stable environments rapidly and at scale is critical to business success. However, the proliferation of new technology has made tracking all these changes increasingly difficult for IT to manage.

Many IT organizations are able to look back and see the things that have changed within their infrastructure, but this manual process rarely catches every requirement of a specific application prior to its deployment, leading to inconsistencies among environments and contributing to more technical errors.

What is Infrastructure as Code?

To help IT avoid manual configuration and enforce consistency, the idea of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) was born. IaC allows teams to document the desired state of their environment via code and save it to a repository in source control. Whenever someone wants to make a change to the environment, they simply update the document and publish it. In doing so, IT is able to know exactly what changed, when it changed, why it changed, and they can look back in time and re-deploy older versions if needed.

Why You Should Embrace Infrastructure as Code

As more companies are looking to move to the cloud, there exists a great opportunity to adopt IaC. This approach allows for a consistent and clear look at what is being created, where, and most importantly, why. Maybe the business has identified new ways to sell products abroad, but you need to deploy quickly and consistently in order to beat competitors to the market? If you’re using IaC, then you’ll have an advantage in getting your infrastructure and applications out there.

The value of Infrastructure as Code can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Speed to build and configure
  2. Reduced risk of human error during configuration
  3. Reduced cost due to delays
  4. Increased innovation as IT is freed up to focus on more impactful work

Whether you’re working with playbooks or cookbooks, at the end of the day the most important step is to take small steps towards adopting IaC into your current environment. I often encounter clients that dream big with ideas of their infrastructure immediately being described in code but fail to recognize that it takes time to learn and understand how this all fits into the environment. By taking smaller, bite-sized steps you can quickly learn the benefits of re-iterating and discover the advantages without taking on unneeded risk.

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