Is IaC a part of DevOps? Does IaC entail the application of DevOps practices? Do DevOps practices apply to IaC?
This article answers the above questions and more as it takes a profound look at the relationship between IaC and DevOps. But before getting into the nitty-gritty of the same, here are some things you should know.
Manual Setups and Configurations – A Colossal Usage of Resources and Time
Setting up IT infrastructure pre-cloud adoption and on-premises is a complicated, time-consuming, and tedious process. Enterprise-wide setups and configurations of operating systems, software, and hardware have to be carried out manually for applications to run. This entails a colossal amount of effort, time, and costs. Also, since these operations are done manually, there are human errors that need to be refactored.
On-Demand Infrastructure Not Available in Time
When the process of infrastructure upgrade is done manually, the issue of speed of scalability arises. The sudden demand for additional processing or storage due to spikes in user traffic and processing would mean infrastructure needs to be added, set up and configured, and made available in a minimum amount of time. This on-demand scalability is not possible in the manual mode of IT operations and adversely affects the availability of promised 24/7 online services.
Cloud Computing Is Everything On-Demand
One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is the on-demand availability of hardware and software services. The cloud service providers, with their huge data centers and sophisticated infrastructure, offer hardware, software, storage, and networking capacities in a virtual environment, all available to the customer via dashboards and configuration managers. Deployment of servers and software services is just a click away.
The Introduction of Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Though resources and infrastructure are made available on-demand via point-and-click to the customer, the default configuration of the virtual services by way of hardware, software, tools, or performance offered might not be exactly what is required by the enterprise, and a certain amount of tweaking might be required.
Instead of doing the customization manually, cloud vendors now offer IaC capability where virtual infrastructure offered to cloud customers can be configured via customizable, predefined instructions in a file.
IaC allows for the setup and management of infrastructure services via the cloud using configuration files. No more manual intervention is required; the configuration file is read, and the virtual service offered (whether hardware, software, etc.) is set up automatically as per the configuration instructions in that file.
IaC in DevOps
DevOps is a set of Agile practices and protocols adopted by teams to shorten software development life cycles and deliver high-quality code. It is but natural that IaC would also be adopted by mainstream DevOps philosophies as it speeds up the process of infrastructure configuration and deployment, which is ultimately needed to run the app under development or deployment. Let's now take a more profound look at the relationship between the two.
DevOps teams deploy applications at various stages of the software development cycle. The target environment for the application needs to be set up for every iterative release for testing, staging, and final deployment. With the configuration file approach of IaC, these target environments, whether it be hardware, software, networking, or performance services, are set up in minimum time with no manual intervention for customized configuration and management. This saves time and cost, speeding up the agile DevOps process further.
Reduced Error in Deployment and Configuration Management
Since the configuration of the virtual platform is now automated based on a file with predefined instructions, there are virtually no errors in the setup and configuration of the said resource. With the removal of manual intervention in the process, IaC ensures error-free deployment-ready environments as defined by requirements and specifications.
The accuracy of the state of deployment-ready environments during any stage of the SDLC is a crucial time and cost-saving mechanism. No more deployments are delayed due to the target environment not being ready or incorrectly configured.
A Boost for Quality Assurance
The level of quality assurance of any application is based on the testing that is done simulating as many operating factors the applications may come under. Earlier, simulating an array of target platforms of various customer operating environments was time-consuming and expensive as it had to be done manually.
With IaC and virtual infrastructure services, innumerable target platforms can be created and configured in no time for due application testing. This greatly boosts time and cost saving in each agile, iterative process adopted by the DevOps team.
Version Control of Target Platforms
DevOps is all about being agile and iterative but keeping track of all the changes made for each iteration is crucial to the health and state of the SDLC within the DevOps philosophy. Version control of source code, along with the state of the target environment, is now possible with IaC.
Rollbacks and versioning of target environments and keeping track of changes are of great help to system architects while keeping track of each iteration, its progress, the errors, and the subsequent fixes along with error detection. Version control is no longer restricted to source code but also to IaC files which in turn means version control of target platform environments as well.
CI/CD Pipelines in DevOps and IaC
CI/CD or continuous integration and continuous deployment is the backbone of any DevOps process. CI/CD focuses on improving the state of software delivery throughout the SDLC with all forms of automation. IaC contributes to the maturity of these pipelines by ensuring it brings in a component of scripting and versioning of the targeted deployment environments along with the actual development of the application itself.
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This article was first published on Express Computer.