Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has changed how organizations manage their infrastructure. Terraform is a popular choice among the various IaC tools because it is versatile and easy to use. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the Terraform architecture. Also, look at some of the best practices for effective infrastructure automation.
Table of Contents
What is Terraform?
Terraform is a program called IaC (Infrastructure as Code) created by HashiCorp. It is available to the public. Users can define and set up infrastructure and application resources in an automated way. You can use Terraform to treat your infrastructure as code. This means you define the state of your desired infrastructure in configuration files using a simple language. Terraform then handles the task of aligning the real-world infrastructure with your desired state.
Key features and concepts of Terraform include:
- Declarative Configuration: You define the infrastructure you want in Terraform configuration files. These are usually written in HashiCorp Configuration Language or HCL. They specify resources, their properties, dependencies, and other details. Terraform then figures out how to create, update, or delete resources to match this configuration.
- Providers: Terraform supports various providers. They are plugins that interface with different infrastructure providers. They include public cloud platforms, private cloud solutions, and even various services and tools. We can use Terraform to manage the available resources from each service provider.
- Resources: Resources are the fundamental building blocks in Terraform. These represent the infrastructure components you want to create and manage. It includes virtual machines, storage, networks, databases, and more. You define the properties and configuration of these resources in your Terraform files.
- State Management: Terraform architecture maintains a state file. It keeps track of the current state of your infrastructure. We use This state file to determine the required changes when you run Terraform commands like apply or destroy. We can store it locally or remotely in a backend like Amazon S3 or Azure Blob Storage.
- Execution Plans: Before applying any changes, Terraform generates an execution plan. It outlines what actions it will take to reach the desired state. We can review this plan to ensure it aligns with your intentions and avoids unwanted changes.
- Modules: Terraform architecture allows you to modularize your configurations into reusable modules. Modules encapsulate sets of related resources and configurations, promoting code reuse and maintainability.
- Variables and Outputs: You can use variables to parameterize your Terraform configurations. It makes them more flexible and adaptable to different environments. Outputs provide a way to expose information about your infrastructure. It can be useful for further automation or integration with other tools.
- Remote Backends: Terraform architecture supports remote backends for storing the state file. It provides features like state locking to prevent concurrent modifications. Also provides secure storage of sensitive information.
- Community and Ecosystem: Terraform Architecture has a thriving community. It also has a rich ecosystem of providers and modules. This makes it easy to find pre-built configurations for various services and platforms. It accelerates infrastructure provisioning.
Terraform is widely used in DevOps, cloud computing, and infrastructure automation to manage and provision infrastructure efficiently and consistently. It allows organizations to treat infrastructure as code. It also enables automation, versioning, collaboration, and scalability in managing complex infrastructure deployments.
Terraform Architecture consists of two main components:
- Terraform Core: Terraform Core is the main part of Terraform that is in charge of its main functions. It includes the following key elements:
- Configuration Files: Terraform setup files, which are often written in HashiCorp setup Language (HCL), are how users set up their infrastructure. These configuration files show how the system should be set up. They list resource types, parameters, and dependencies.
- Planner: The “terraform plan” command is the planner for Terraform. It looks at the configuration files and figures out what steps need to be taken to get the infrastructure to the desired state. It comes up with an action plan that shows which resources need to be added, changed, or taken away.
- Executor: When the “terraform apply” command is run, the executor takes the action plan made by the planner and uses it to change the target infrastructure. It talks to cloud providers, APIs, or other backends of infrastructure to create, update, or delete resources as required.
- State Management: Terraform Core maintains a state file that keeps track of the current state of the infrastructure. This state file is used to determine the differences between the desired state and the actual state of resources. It’s crucial for Terraform to accurately track resource changes and dependencies.
- Providers: Providers are plugins that make it possible for Terraform to talk to different cloud systems, infrastructure services, and APIs. Each provider is in charge of turning a Terraform configuration into steps that are specific to the platform it is used on. Examples of providers include AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and many others. Users can specify which provider(s) they want to use in their configuration files.
Why Use Terraform architecture?
Terraform architecture involves the principles and components of Terraform’s design. Using Terraform architecture offers several advantages and reasons to choose it for managing your infrastructure and application resources:
- Declarative Configuration: Terraform architecture is based on declarative configuration files. With this method, you define the desired state of your infrastructure instead of writing scripts to build and manage resources. This simplifies resource provisioning and makes your configurations more predictable and less error-prone.
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Terraform architecture is based on the idea of Infrastructure as Code, which lets you treat your infrastructure settings like code. This helps your infrastructure management processes in ways like keeping track of versions, working together, and automating tasks.
- Resource Abstraction: Terraform architecture combines different infrastructure providers (like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud) and services into a shared configuration language. This means you can use a single set of Terraform resources and configurations to manage resources across various cloud providers and on-premises environments.
- Modularity and Reusability: Terraform architecture encourages modularity by letting you make modules that can be used again and again. You can encapsulate settings for common infrastructure components, which makes it easy to share and keep track of best practices across projects.
- Resource Dependency Management: Based on how resources depend on each other, Terraform architecture automatically manages the way in which resources are made, updated, or destroyed. This makes it easier to set up resources and makes sure they are set up properly.
- State Management: The Terraform architecture keeps a state file that shows how your infrastructure is right now. This state file is an important part of Terraform architecture because it lets it figure out what changes need to be made to get to the desired state. Remote backends provide secure and collaborative state management.
- Execution Plans: Terraform architecture generates execution plans before making changes to your infrastructure. These plans give you a clear picture of what Terraform will do, so you can see how changes will affect things and review and approve them.
- Provider Ecosystem: Terraform’s architecture is extensible through providers. Terraform has a vast ecosystem of providers that allow you to interact with various cloud platforms, services, and APIs. This means you can use Terraform to manage resources in a wide range of environments.
- Version Control Integration: Popular version control systems like Git can be used to store and track changes to Terraform architecture settings. This integration facilitates collaboration, change tracking, and rollback capabilities.
- Automation and Orchestration: You can automate the provisioning and control of infrastructure resources as part of your CI/CD workflows by adding Terraform architecture to automation and orchestration pipelines.
- Community and Ecosystem: Terraform architecture has a lively community and a rich ecosystem of modules, configurations, and best practices. This means you can use sets that have already been made and share your own changes with the community. This speeds up the process of setting up and maintaining infrastructure.
- Security and Compliance: Terraform architecture lets you write security policies and compliance rules as code. You can enforce security best practices and compliance requirements across your infrastructure configurations.
Using Terraform architecture is a structured and efficient way to handle infrastructure and application resources. It offers benefits like consistency, modularity, version control, automation, and support for different environments. It’s a powerful tool for companies that want to use Infrastructure as Code and streamline the way they handle their infrastructure.
Terraform Architecture Best Practices
1. Terraform architecture Best Practices for Microsoft Azure
Most Terraform users believe that, at first glance, YAML tasks are simpler and less complex. But the more you use them, or the longer you use them, the more of an abstraction layer they become, and the more manual debugging you’ll have to do. Using the YAML tasks can help you get things done, but you might not learn how to use the tool well.
On the other hand, the best way to learn about and master this technology for use with Azure is to get used to the Terraform command line.
- Use YAML Pipelines rather than UI: Classic pipelines are one example of an older feature that is still supported by Azure DevOps. If you want to build something fresh, you shouldn’t use the tried-and-true methods of the past. Pipelines as code, which is YAML pipelines, should be used instead.
If you are still using traditional pipelines, you should begin transitioning them to YAML immediately. Both will accomplish the job, but Microsoft is putting greater emphasis on YAML pipelines, so using those will keep you ahead of the curve.
- Using Terraform Partial Configuration: Terraform’s documentation may seem easy to understand in the beginning. It talks about things like the names of storage accounts, resource groups, containers, and access keys. However, with this method, your individual information may be stored in a different location. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a partial setup be used instead of Terraform’s default configuration.
In a partial configuration, the user is not required to provide values for all of the backend configuration’s arguments. If a Terraform automation script is already running and providing the necessary arguments, you don’t need to specify them. Partial configuration refers to the elimination of parts or all of the arguments.
- Custom Role for Terraform: There is a potential security risk in giving any position greater permissions than it needs. Limiting access to only what’s required for a given role is a good technique to reduce vulnerability. There is still some debate over whether the Terraform service principle should be considered an owner or a contributor. The correct response is that it shouldn’t be used in any of these capacities. Instead, it is recommended that a custom role be granted to the Terraform service principal.
2. AWS Best Practises for Using Terraform architecture
In addition to Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services is another popular option. Here are some of the best ways to use Terraform with Amazon Web Services.
- Split Files Logically: Provider and resource creation logic for Terraform are stored in a single file called Main.tf. In some cases, the simplicity of reading a single file can be improved. It is possible to write Terraform code in a single file, but it is good practice to break up your code into many files when working with AWS. Those records are:
- Main.tf – in-process variables, externally-called modules, and raw data
- Variables.tf – The variables defined in main.tf can be found here.
- Outputs.tf – This file contains all the results that main.tf generated from the resources.
Since it might be harder to read when working with a single file, documents should be split up into the above formats.
- Locking the State File: When many processes view the same state file, inconsistencies and corruption can happen. You can’t afford to lose information when working on a project. Locking the state file in Terraform prevents several processes from executing the same state at the same time. When a state file is locked, only one person of the team can run the Terraform configurations. This stops the above things from happening.
- Metadata Extraction:You can only get data from the Terraform server using the terraform_remote_state data source. As a result of this source, the output of one Terraform configuration can be used as the basis for another. The user must oversee many layers, including the network, applications, and databases. Once the basic network resources have been set up, the application layer and the database layer should use the terraform_remote_state data source to make direct access to the resource from the vpc layer.
- Tag your Amazon Resources: The user of Terraform can add tags to any resource that contain any kind of information they choose. By assigning tags to your AWS assets, you can organize them anyway you see fit. The ability to attach tags to resources makes it much easier to find the one you need among a group of similar items.
3. Terraform architecture Best Practices for Google Cloud Platform
Another industry frontrunner in cloud service provision is Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP). In the following section, we’ll go through some recommendations for optimizing Terraform’s use with GCP.
- Variable Usage: If you’re looking for a top-tier cloud service provider, go no further than Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP). Best practices for integrating Terraform with GCP are described in greater detail below. The first is following the right procedures when working with variables.
The variables.tf file should contain declarations for all GCP variables. Since the GCP API does not come with a predefined unit, it is crucial that variables be given appropriate unit names. Numbers used in local variables, inputs, and outputs should be qualified with their units, such as disk_size_gb. The usage of binary unit prefixes for storage units is also recommended to ensure compatibility with the Google Cloud.
- Limit Custom Script Usage: It’s best practice to employ scripts only when truly necessary. The reason for this is that Terraform does not handle the status of script-generated resources. Unless the needed behavior is not supported by the Terraform resources, custom scripts should be avoided.
In addition, every custom script needs a written rationale for being used and an approach for when it will be phased out. All of your Terraform-specific scripts should go in the scripts/ folder.
- Limiting the Complexity of Expressions: Each expression that is interpolated should have a good amount of complexity. The best Terraform practice for Google Cloud Platform is to use local values to break up an expression that needs multiple functions into separate expressions.
It’s also preferable to not have numerous ternary operations on the same line. However, the reasoning can be constructed using a number of local values.
- Follow a Standard Module Structure: Every Terraform module should follow the standard module layout, and the root directory of the module should be named main.tf because this is where the resources are kept by default.
In addition, every module must have a readme.md file written in the Markdown style. This file must contain all of the necessary documentation pertaining to the module. It is recommended that only Terraform and metadata files be placed in the root directory of the module.
Terraform Consulting Services by SupportFly
Terraform is a great option for automating cloud infrastructure that has features that are both unique and useful. With the help of this technology, users can do many different things, such as client-only design, orchestration, and cloud infrastructure. SupportFly offers Terraform consulting services. Our trained professionals apply the essential strategies and technicalities for your cloud infrastructure utilizing Terraform. These services, along with other services, can be found on our website.
1. Terraform architecture Implementation
While you want to implement Terraform in your cloud environment, SupportFly is able to offer you expert assistance and guidance.
- Installing Terraform on our end will involve creating, planning, architecting, and really putting it into action.
- Checking for quality and performing tests, in addition to writing a report on the task done.
- Recommendations for enhancing the overall quality of the Terraform implementation.
2. Terraform Multi-Cloud Deployment
Terraform is a cloud-neutral IaC tool, which means that it is compatible with all of the major cloud platforms. SupportFly will be of assistance to you during the process of deploying to many clouds
- The deployment of serverless tasks using Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.
- Performing an evaluation of the infrastructure and choosing the best deployment method.
- Installation of either a public, a private, or a mixed model according to the requirements.
- To save money and improve data protection, it’s important to understand the different parts of deployment.
3. Terraform Consulting
Learn about the benefits of using Terraform and how it can help you change your current infrastructure.
- Taking a look at the current Terraform implementation and how it’s being used.
- Construct a report using the reports, and include any suggestions you have to help it become better.
- Develop a Terraform usage strategy for the cloud deployment, as well as any other necessary steps.
- Determine the best cloud service for your needs, both in terms of type and supplier.
4. Integration of Terraform with CI/CD Pipelines
You will be able to make your DevOps workflow more effective by integrating Terraform into your CI/CD pipelines.
- Integration of Terraform with CI/CD processes was done in a methodical and well-planned way.
- Find out the needs for integration and the methods that will make sure it goes well.
- Integration with the services provided by AWS, GCP, and Azure.
- Conduct a number of tests and checks to guarantee that the integration will go smoothly.
Anyone who wants to get into Infrastructure as Code (IaC) needs to know about Terraform’s architecture and best practices. Terraform is a powerful and flexible way to manage infrastructure. It lets you describe, provision, and change your cloud resources quickly and precisely. When you use Terraform’s power, you’re not just building infrastructure; you’re also shaping the future success of your company. So, set sail with Terraform and start your journey!
Q1. What is Terraform?
Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code (IaC) tool developed by HashiCorp. Users can use code to describe and set up infrastructure resources like virtual machines, networks, and databases.
Q2. How is Terraform different from other IaC tools like Ansible or Puppet?
Ansible and Puppet are more about handling configurations and automating tasks, while Terraform is mostly about setting up and managing infrastructure resources. The best thing about Terraform is that it can define and build infrastructure, while the other tools are better at setting up software and systems.
Q3. What is 3 tier architecture using Terraform?
A software architecture pattern called “three-tier architecture” divides a program into three logical layers: the presentation layer, the business logic layer, and the data storage layer.
Q4. What are the two parts of Terraform architecture?
Terraform architecture mainly consists of the following components:
2. Terraform Core
Q5. What is a Terraform module?
A Terraform module is a reusable set of Terraform configuration files. It encapsulates a specific piece of infrastructure. We can share and reuse modules across different projects. It makes it easier to maintain and manage infrastructure code.
Q6. What cloud providers does Terraform support?
Terraform supports a wide range of cloud providers. And it includes AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and many others. We can use it to manage on-premises infrastructure and various third-party services.