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6 tips to drive infrastructure-as-code best practices

Evaluating an infrastructure-as-code setup? Use these six tips to grasp IaC benefits, challenges, tool considerations and more before you make the move.

With infrastructure as code -- sometimes abbreviated as IaC -- developers or operations admins manage and provision the technology stack automatically via software, rather than configure and set up systems manually.

Code-based infrastructure automation is similar to software development processes in that it enables version control and iteration testing. It also limits deployments until software is approved for production.

But for all of IaC's benefits, it carries notable risks, presents a steep learning curve and requires skills that are often difficult to find in the workforce. Use these six tips to explore infrastructure-as-code best practices -- and to avoid chaos during implementation.

Carefully weigh infrastructure-as-code benefits vs. risks

SDDCs have naturally led to software-based infrastructure, which helped lay the foundation for infrastructure as code. And while IaC opens many doors for improved performance and greater agility, it can also wreak untold havoc in an environment that can be difficult to mitigate or undo. IT architect Brian Kirsch breaks down the prominent benefits and drawbacks of infrastructure-as-code setups and offers key advice to successfully approach and manage one.

Know the limits of composable infrastructure

Synonymous with infrastructure as code, composable infrastructure enables admins to better manage and scale IT resources for infrastructure builds, as well as automate rote tasks and improve infrastructure deployment speed, agility and accuracy. TechTarget's senior technical writer, Stephen Bigelow, explains the tradeoffs that IT organizations face.

Evaluate Terraform as an IaC tool

Careful tool selection tops the list of infrastructure-as-code best practices. Among other tools, such as Ansible or AWS CloudFormation, HashiCorp Terraform can support an IaC setup. Terraform provides scalability and vendor support, as well as a lineup of features that ease the infrastructure admin's configuration efforts. But, as virtualization expert Stuart Burns explains, admins must learn and experiment with Terraform variables, access controls and more in a small-scale environment before they broadly apply any infrastructure configuration changes.

Prepare for IaC security implications

Traditional IT environments placed security toward the end of the application development and deployment pipeline, but the move to DevOps pushes security left into development to produce code that is inherently secure. IaC takes this idea and extends security into the organization's infrastructure code. IT security writer Michael Cobb describes the security benefits attached to an infrastructure-as-code setup and offers advice to avoid common mishaps.

Increase visibility with IaC

Data visibility is a key aspect of infrastructure security. Composable infrastructure enables IT engineers and admins to maintain control over the network and architecture, which prevents hacking attempts. Cobb describes how to extend infrastructure-as-code best practices and tools to enhance data visibility and insights.

Define hybrid and multi-cloud requirements

SDDCs aren't the only IT environment that benefits from infrastructure as code; hybrid and multi-cloud deployments also stand to gain from the resource pool automation in IaC. Both cloud providers and third parties offer IaC tools, but organizations have significant pros and cons to consider for this choice. IT consultant Tom Nolle compares three of the most popular options for IaC tools that target hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

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