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How Infrastructure as Code Supports DevOps Best Practices

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As operations increasingly migrate to the cloud, there are more opportunities to develop support solutions and infrastructure, from ensuring security to improving integrations. Infrastructure as code can help you increase automation and reduce your deployment cycle time so you can help more customers interested in these services.

Incorporating infrastructure as code into your IT org’s practices can help eliminate costly human setup errors and inconsistencies, save time, and more easily debug issues with your team or the open source community at large.

What is Infrastructure as Code, Anyway?

Infrastructure as Code (or IaC) is a descriptive model that allows you to automatically generate a desired environment, including networks, VMs, and connection types. IaC uses the same type of versioning approach that DevOps and software engineering teams use in source code, but it’s applied to build the exact same environment for each and every deployment.

Consider IaC a method of automating the process of test environment setup. In the past, you would have had to manually specify the machines, configuration, and network each time you were testing an application in a particular environment. The manual approach is prone to human error and quite time-consuming. IaC automates the process by giving you the validated test environment you need, each and every time you deploy an application.

The Benefits of IaC to the Open Source Community

When testing applications and making full use of IaC, you directly change the source code to change the environment. Any and all commands, setup, requisition of machines, environment parameters, and so on are part of the code itself. When debugging an application deployment, you no longer need to specify a separate sequence of prompts by the user for environment setup; everything is contained in one template.

Not only does this allow for better tracking of environments and use cases, but it also ensures more consistent results across your DevOps team. You won’t be able to accidentally set up a slightly different network than your colleague when you take over testing out the latest version of an application.

As your processes become more advanced and moves toward real-life test scenarios, you can guarantee that the environments have been validated and that you’ve minimized human error. In essence, you code every single step of the process, eliminating the common problem of “well, it worked on my machine.” There should be no manual setup when you implement IaC. Within the open source community, IaC continues to enable complete transparency of the entire application testing process.

Another important benefit of IaC is its integration with CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) tools. You can leverage this integration to test more efficiently because the code automates the process of moving application versions from one environment to the next. The integration again saves you time and eliminates the costly human errors associated with manually conducting this process.

How IaC Enables DevOps Best Practices

DevOps is the combination of development and operations teams to ensure continuous integration and delivery of value to end-users and customers. One of the primary aims of DevOps is to shorten cycle time. With this increased frequency of deployment, you have more opportunities to improve the application and learn from mistakes.

IaC automates the build-up and tear-down of specific environments, making it easier to deliver stable, tested platforms to host applications. IaC helps reduce cycle time through automation and the implementation of code to work in places where humans used to take time requisitioning VMs.

Another key best practice in DevOps is version control, which allows large or distributed teams to effectively work together using a standard system. IaC also supports better version control by making the environment clear and transparent as part of the code. No added documentation is required to state the environment that the developer or end-user requisitioned. The result is easier error-tracking and error-replication, meaning solutions can also be offered with faster turnaround.

IaC keeps track of all environment build-up commands in a repository, so you can quickly roll back to a previous instance or redeploy. Rather than spending time fixing a server, you can either redeploy it with a working copy or reach back into the version history to reinstate a deployment that worked previously.

Infrastructure as Code Is Integral to DevOps

IaC is inherently a best practice of DevOps, in that it automates the process of environment buildup and is itself a form of version control. So if DevOps is at the heart of your organizational or personal best practices, it may be time to investigate the power of IaC and ensure you (and your team) are using it to its full potential.

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