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What is Infrastructure as Code? How are Enterprises Adopting it?

The Information Technology market has seen tremendous make over with the advent of trending technologies like Cloud Computing, Virtualization, Automation and Artificial Intelligence. Businesses are increasingly focused on achieving speed in deployment, faster release-cycle, speed in recovery and more by adopting to new age technology to achieve digital transformation. One such methodology which has seen increase in adoption is Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

infrastructure as code

In this “Cloud age of IT”, organisations have started to realize the bottlenecks of traditional ways to manage the data centres, and the imminent need for adopting infrastructure automation and virtualization to grow their footprint in cloud. Many large scale companies have sensitive very market and practice no toleration policy for any downtime in their environment as they tend to handle millions of transactions. With heavy task to handle, traditional way of managing IT infrastructure may prone to multiple inconsistencies due to human errors, cost escalations and delays in infrastructure setup. Organizations have started to pioneer new practices to overcome these challenges with the help of Infrastructure as code (IaC).

What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

Infrastructure as code, or IaC, is the method of managing and provisioning consistent infrastructure on demand through machine-readable definition files. Based on modern concepts like virtualization, cloud computing and automation, Infrastructure as Code IaC eliminates the need for maintaining the infrastructure manually that are directly tied to physical hardware.

IAC is an essential Devops practice. IaC is the process of defining all software parameters and network setting in a textual format, which can be stored in version control systems (VCS) and versioned on request. With the help of Versioning, organizations can now avoid inconsistency in the IT environment thereby enhancing the quality and security during the Software Development Phase.

Global Cloud Infrastructure Automation is expected to reach $22.19 billion at a CAGR of around 19.9% during the forecast period 2016–2022.

Teams implementing Infrastructure as Code IaC can deliver stable environments rapidly and at scale. Teams avoid manual configuration of environments and enforce consistency by representing the desired state of their environments via code. Infrastructure deployments with IaC are repeatable and prevent runtime issues caused by configuration drift or missing dependencies. DevOps teams can work together with a unified set of practices and tools to deliver applications and their supporting infrastructure rapidly, reliably, and at scale.

Best Practices for Infrastructure as Code IaC:

  • Codifying: The interesting aspect of IaC is Codification. With the help of explicit coding, organizations can easily configure the required infrastructure setup. The process of codifying everything provides single source for infrastructure specifications and makes it easier for the organizations to track the configuration change if any, and manage the infrastructure necessities seamlessly.

  • Immutable Infrastructure: Immutable infrastructure takes infrastructure as code IaC on to next level. It is a consistent setup for infra deployment and management where the servers cannot be modified after they are deployed. Immutable infra along with infrastructure as code IaC has many strategic advantages like reduced support call cost, eliminates configuration drift, enables fast recoveries and facilitates experimentation.

  • Declarative Model: Declarative model focuses on what the solution/final state is rather than how the solution is attained. Organizations widely use declarative approach where system administrator decides the final state for provisioning the infrastructure. IAC then handles the rest - setting up servers, installing necessary configurations and software.

How Does Infrastructure As Code (IaC) Works?

IaC tools can vary as far as the specifics of how they work, but we can generally divide them into two main types: the ones that follow the imperative approach, and the ones who follow the declarative approach. If you think the categories above have something to do with programming language paradigms, then you’re spot on!

The imperative approach “gives orders.” It defines a sequence of commands or instructions so the infrastructure can reach the final result.

A declarative approach, on the other hand, “declares” the desired outcome. Instead of explicitly outlining the sequence of steps the infrastructure needs to reach the final result, the declarative approach shows what the final result looks like.

working of infrastructure as code IaC

Benefits of IAC:

Let’s take a look on business benefits of IAC

  • Faster time to production: IaC allows you to spin up entire infrastructure architecture by running a script. Organization can easily deploy servers, launch databases, storage systems, cloud services and configure the required software and network setting. This code driven approach eliminates manual effort, thereby automating the provision of infrastructure from development to production. Execution plans also help test the infra resilience thereby reducing potential losses and delay in infra provisioning.

  • Configuration Consistency: The conventional way of provisioning an infrastructure may cause manual errors which leads to certain differences in configurations and challenging to debug the same. With IaC, the idea of infrastructure provisioning is taken to a next level with reduced possibility of any errors or deviations. This will decrease any incompatibility issues within the infrastructure setup and helps run the application efficiently.

  • Accountability and Efficiency: IaC’s configuration file helps the organization to have full traceability of the changes that are made to configurations during infrastructure provisioning. This reduces the manual effort of guessing 3W’s (What, When and by whom) changes have been made. IaC also has graph feature providing deep insight on resource provisioning which improves the accountability and efficiency of the individual. Organizations can deploy infrastructure architectures easily in many phases making the whole software development cycle more efficient, thereby raising the team’s productivity to higher standards.

  • Reduced Shadow IT and enhanced Customer Experience: The existence of shadow IT within organizations is mainly due to below reasons:

    • Usage of IT software/ hardware by department or an individual without the knowledge of internal security group

    • Inability of IT department to provide satisfactory and timely response to the customers regarding infrastructure or system enhancements.

    Through IaC assisted deployments, organizations can not only respond to any new IT requirements much faster, but also maintaining the security and compliance within IT standards. Being able to deliver such a secured and quality response within short time contributes to enhanced customer experience.

  • Reduced management overhead/ cost and improved ROI: IAC along with cloud computing eliminates the need for multiple roles to govern and manage storage, networking and computing, thereby reducing the infra management cost drastically.

Begin your IaC journey:

With Automation becoming the primitive way of managing resources in every possible way, IaC offers a comprehensive solution to the puzzle of Infrastructure automation. Many established organisations including the Fortune 500 companies have adopted this model and revamped their infrastructure management protocols. We have helped our BFSI customers to overcome the challenges due to traditional way of infrastructure provisioning by providing on-demand infrastructure automation solutions to manage large scale IT operations.

Partnering with NSEIT can help you become a part of this disruptive solution and evolve your organisation’s Infrastructure necessities.

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