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Infrastructure as Code: Best Practices for Building Reliable and Scalable Systems

by Spanish Point - Jun 5, 2024
Infrastructure as Code: Best Practices for Building Reliable and Scalable Systems

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) revolutionises the way we manage and deploy infrastructure by leveraging DevOps methodologies and version control through a descriptive modeling approach. This practice enables the precise definition and deployment of infrastructure components, including networks, virtual machines, load balancers, and connection topologies. Much like how consistent source code produces identical binaries, an IaC model ensures that every deployment yields an identical environment, providing reliability and repeatability in infrastructure management.

IaC is a fundamental DevOps practice and an integral part of continuous delivery. By adopting IaC, DevOps teams can collaborate using a unified set of practices and tools, enabling the rapid and reliable delivery of applications and their supporting infrastructure at scale. Some benefits of IaC include:

  • Increased confidence in deployments.
  • Ability to manage multiple environments.
  • Improved understanding of the state of infrastructure.

Best Practices for using IaC as the Standard for your Infrastructure Deployments

Implementing IaC allows you to seamlessly integrate infrastructure deployment and management with your existing software development practices. IaC provides a consistent and standardised methodology for developing and deploying all components of your workload. In contrast, manual deployments risk inconsistent configurations and potentially insecure designs.

Use your Cloud Platform’s Native Tools that Integrate into the Platform

Your cloud platform provides tools to make deploying IaC easy and straightforward. Take advantage of these tools and other third-party tools that have native integration. Native tools are supported by the platform and include built-in functionality for most of your needs. They’re continuously updated by the platform provider, making them more useful as the platform evolves.

Use the Right Tools for Specific Tasks and Infrastructure Types

Multiple tasks, beyond deployments, are involved in an infrastructure lifecycle and configuration needs to be applied and maintained. Consider all the tasks and types of infrastructure encompassed by your IaC practices, and standardise on tools that effectively fulfill these needs and integrate seamlessly into your development and management workflows.

Continuous Delivery

Want to learn more on how IaC can transform your Infrastructure Management?

Strategise and Standardise on the use of Modules

Similar to parameters and variables, modules can make your infrastructure deployments repeatable. However, it is important to use them thoughtfully. Implementing a standardised abstraction strategy ensures that modules are designed to meet specific, agreed-upon goals. Use modules to encapsulate complex configurations or resource combinations, but avoid using them if you only need the default configuration of a resource.

Document Standards for Manual Steps

Some steps involved in deploying and maintaining infrastructure may be unique to your environment and require manual intervention. Minimise these steps as much as possible and document them clearly. Standardise these manual steps in your style guide and standard operating procedures to ensure tasks are performed safely and consistently.

Treat your IaC and Application Code the same

Treating your IaC artifacts the same as your application code artifacts allows you to apply the same level of rigor in managing code across all pipelines. IaC development and deployment practices should mirror those of application development, adhering to standards for version control, branching, code promotion, and quality. Consider collocating your IaC assets with your application code assets to ensure consistent processes with every deployment. This approach helps prevent issues such as deploying infrastructure before the necessary application code, or vice versa.