Infrastructure as Code: Custom Software’s Best Friend

In this blog, I want to shine a light on the practical benefits that Infrastructure as Code (IaC) brings to software development projects. I’ll show you how defining our applications’ infrastructure needs in the form of code can more easily automate provisioning, achieve consistency, improve collaboration, and streamline many of our workflows. 

I’m going to give real-life examples and experiences to show why IaC should matter to you and how it will make your software systems easier to build and more reliable and secure.

What Is Infrastructure as Code?

In IaC, we treat infrastructure configurations as code, enabling us to provision and manage resources programmatically. This code can be written using tools like Terraform, Ansible, Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Templates, or AWS CloudFormation. By representing infrastructure in code, we can achieve repeatable, scalable, version-able, and manageable environments.

Exploring Popular IaC Technologies

Below is a list of popular IaC technologies that allow you to easily automate, scale, and manage infrastructure resources efficiently, some even working cross-platform, irrespective of your chosen cloud provider or configuration management needs.

Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

ARM templates provide a way to define and deploy Azure infrastructure resources using JSON or YAML syntax. They enable you to create a comprehensive and reproducible description of your Azure environment, including virtual machines, storage accounts, networking components, and more.

Compared with Ansible and Terraform, ARM templates only allow you to maintain Azure resources, while the other options are cross-platform.

Here’s an ARM template snippet that deploys an Azure storage account:

  "$schema": "",
  "contentVersion": "",
  "parameters": {
    "storageAccountName": {
      "type": "string",
      "metadata": {
        "description": "Name of the storage account."
    "location": {
      "type": "string",
      "metadata": {
        "description": "Location for the storage account."
  "resources": [
      "type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts",
      "apiVersion": "2021-04-01",
      "name": "[parameters('storageAccountName')]",
      "location": "[parameters('location')]",
      "sku": {
        "name": "Standard_LRS",
        "tier": "Standard"
      "kind": "StorageV2",
      "properties": {}

AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation is similar to Azure’s ARM templates, only for AWS instead of Azure. It enables you to define AWS infrastructure resources and their configurations using YAML or JSON templates. It also allows you to create, update, and delete resources as a single unit, known as a “stack.” CloudFormation simplifies resource management and provides an easy way to version and control infrastructure changes. 

Like its Azure counterpart, an AWS CloudFormation template only works on its own home cloud.

The following CloudFormation template provisions an Amazon EC2 instance:

    Type: AWS::EC2::Instance
      ImageId: ami-0c94855ba95c71c99
      InstanceType: t2.micro
        - Key: Name
          Value: example-instance


Terraform is a powerful tool that allows you to define and provision infrastructure resources using declarative configuration files. It supports a wide range of cloud providers and other technologies. Terraform uses a domain-specific language (DSL) to describe infrastructure resources and their interdependencies. 

Terraform is platform-agnostic, and works for any popular cloud provider, including AWS and Azure.

Below is a simple Terraform code snippet that provisions an AWS S3 bucket:

resource "aws_s3_bucket" "example" {
  bucket = "example-bucket"
  acl    = "private"


Ansible is a versatile automation tool that focuses on configuration management, application deployment, and task orchestration. It operates based on a simple YAML syntax and uses SSH for communication with remote servers. Ansible allows you to define infrastructure configurations as “playbooks” consisting of tasks, which are executed in a specific order. Compared to Terraform, Ansible is easier to learn and better at automating the setup and configuration of on-premise resources.

The following Ansible playbook installs Nginx on a set of remote servers:

- name: Install Nginx
  hosts: webservers
  become: true

    - name: Install Nginx package
        name: nginx
        state: present

Motivations and Advantages of Infrastructure as Code

IaC offers many advantages to manually provisioning and configuring infrastructure for a custom software application. These include the following six advantages:

1. Automation and Efficiency
With IaC, we automate the provisioning and configuration of infrastructure resources, eliminating manual setup and reducing human error. By codifying our infrastructure, we can easily replicate environments and achieve consistent and efficient deployments.

Imagine having a Git repository containing all your infrastructure code. By simply running a script or triggering a pipeline, you can automatically provision a complete development environment from a particular branch of your code, having all the necessary resources and configurations.

2. Scalability and Flexibility
IaC empowers us to scale our infrastructure on-demand. By defining resources as code, we can easily adjust the number of instances, change instance types, or modify network configurations. This flexibility enables us to meet changing workload requirements and scale our applications seamlessly.

For example, using AWS CloudFormation, we can define an Auto Scaling Group and set up dynamic scaling policies based on CPU utilization. This ensures that our infrastructure automatically adjusts to handle increased traffic and maintains optimal performance.

3. Version Control and Collaboration
IaC embraces version control systems like Git, enabling collaborative development and easy management of infrastructure changes. By storing infrastructure configurations as code, we can track changes, roll back to previous versions if needed, and collaborate effectively with team members.

Imagine if, through version control, you could see who made what changes to the infrastructure code, review and discuss proposed modifications, and merge enhancements seamlessly. This promotes transparency, accountability, and efficient teamwork.

4. Consistency and Reproducibility
IaC ensures that environments remain consistent across different stages of development and deployment. By defining infrastructure as code, we eliminate configuration drift and achieve reproducibility. The ability to recreate environments reliably saves time and minimizes troubleshooting efforts.

Let’s say you have a staging environment that closely resembles your production setup. With IaC, you can simply replicate the infrastructure code used in production to provision an identical staging environment. This eliminates inconsistencies between environments and facilitates accurate testing and debugging.

5. Security and Compliance
IaC plays a crucial role in enhancing security and compliance practices. With infrastructure defined as code, security requirements and best practices can be codified and enforced consistently across environments. You can incorporate security controls, implement access policies, and enforce encryption standards within your infrastructure code, reducing the risk of misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.

For example, in a healthcare organization handling sensitive patient data under HIPAA regulations, automating security and compliance measures through Infrastructure as Code (IaC) ensures consistent provisioning of infrastructure resources with appropriate security controls, access management, and encryption protocols. This automation minimizes human error, maintains compliance, and safeguards patient information effectively.

6. Multi-Cloud Flexibility
Embracing IaC allows you to harness the power of multi-cloud environments. With IaC tools, you can define and manage infrastructure resources across different cloud providers, unlocking the ability to leverage unique services and capabilities from each. This flexibility mitigates vendor lock-in, enhances redundancy, and enables optimal resource allocation based on specific requirements.

Consider a scenario where you need to deploy a mission-critical application that requires the flexibility to run seamlessly on either AWS or Azure cloud platforms. By using something like Terraform, you can achieve multi-cloud flexibility and ensure a smooth deployment experience across both environments using the same script.

Getting Started With Infrastructure as Code

Here are some resources to get started with the technologies involved in Infrastructure as Code (IaC):

  1. Terraform:
    • Official Documentation: The official Terraform documentation provides comprehensive guides, tutorials, and examples to help you understand and use the tool effectively.
    • Terraform Up and Running: A book by Yevgeniy Brikman that serves as an excellent resource for learning Terraform from scratch and understanding its best practices.
    • Terraform Cloud: If you want to leverage Terraform in a cloud-hosted environment, Terraform Cloud provides a collaborative and scalable platform for managing infrastructure as code.
  2. Ansible:
    • Official Documentation: The official Ansible documentation offers detailed guides, modules, and examples to help you get started and become proficient with this tool.
    • Ansible for DevOps: A book by Jeff Geerling that provides practical examples and real-world scenarios to learn Ansible and apply it to automate infrastructure and application deployments.
    • Ansible Galaxy: This is a repository of Ansible roles contributed by the community.
  3. Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Templates:
    • Official Documentation: The official Azure Resource Manager documentation offers comprehensive guides and examples for creating ARM templates and deploying Azure resources.
    • Azure Quickstart Templates: This is a collection of ARM templates provided by Microsoft that cover various deployment scenarios.
  4. AWS CloudFormation:
    • Official Documentation: The official AWS CloudFormation documentation provides detailed guides, templates, and examples to help you understand and utilize CloudFormation effectively.
    • AWS CloudFormation Designer: This is a visual tool that helps you create, view, and modify CloudFormation templates graphically.

These resources offer a wealth of information and examples to help you get started with Terraform, Ansible, Azure Resource Manager templates, and AWS CloudFormation. By exploring these materials, you can gain a solid foundation and gradually enhance your skills in Infrastructure as Code.


Embracing Infrastructure as Code brings tangible benefits to your software development process. By automating infrastructure provisioning, achieving consistency, promoting collaboration, and ensuring reproducibility, IaC simplifies and streamlines the process of building and managing robust software applications. 

Take the leap into IaC, and witness firsthand how it enhances your efficiency, scalability, and collaboration, while ensuring more reliable and consistent infrastructure deployments.

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