Infrastructure as Code: How to Automate Manual Operations in 2021

Parul Saxena

Parul Saxena

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: February 4, 2021

What is Infrastructure

Alpacked describes what is meant by infrastructure as a process of managing computer data centers using machine-readable definition files, as opposed to physical hardware configuration or interactive means.

Introduction of Infrastructure as code concept

According to IBM, infrastructure automation is all about installing an operating system, server configuration, and interaction of the unit with software. The idea is to automate manual and repetitive steps and make the code available for customization at any time and reusable. By running the same script, you can rebuild the same infrastructure in a different location or at an additional time.

Introducing the concept of Infrastructure as code. In the classic view, code infrastructure data is located in two places:

  • in the human resource
  • in the machine resource

In both cases, we face dependencies. In the first case, from a person who can move to another company, it is generally unstable, subject to mood swings. In the second case, there is a decrease in the machine’s productivity and efficiency, unexpected malfunctions. The solution here is to migrate infrastructure data into well-written, maintainable, and human-readable, reproducible code. It has the means to go along with work and reproduction.

Reasons to use Infrastructure automation

Almost all developing organizations sooner or later face the problem of growth and complexity of infrastructure. The human factor plays a huge role here because due to the fact that the team may not keep pace with growth, there is a delay in updates associated with fixes in functionality, complexity with the growing size of the infrastructure. This pushes more and more to automate the tasks that a person performed. Automation simplifies large-scale operations and improves the control and efficiency of work processes.

Benefits of Infrastructure automation

1. Improved collaboration

The idea of ​​automation has recently gained immense popularity due to the possibility of collaboration between teams in the company. IT teams and software developers increase cross-team communication; it becomes an integral part of the workflow. Thus, the efficiency in work on large projects is increased.

2. Low costs

One of the undoubted benefits of IaC is the reduction in infrastructure management costs. There is no need to spend money on equipment, personnel for operation, rent of premises. Since the number of processes in which a person participates decreases, there is no need to pay for manual actions because everything is automated. The larger the company, the greater the savings from automation without sacrificing quality.

3. Version history is always available

If you use the infrastructure as code, you can ensure that your application is updated. When you write code to version control, the changes are recorded and can be easily rolled back. You can go back to the old version, and then the old configuration will come back.

4. Better reliability

Continuous delivery is one of the most efficient development models. The advantage of continuous delivery is that it allows organizations to automate various tasks with greater efficiency and accuracy. It aims to increase flexibility in work. At the same time, using this model, companies can rest assured that the requirements are met at all stages of software development. Besides, automation enables you to implement ways to monitor and analyze the performance of your environment. An analysis is an opportunity to identify a problem even before it occurs and, accordingly, reduce potential risks and costs.

5. Faster updates

Automation simplifies the release process, reduces time spent on fixes, revisions, and review of user wishes and comments based on their user experience. With the constant need for brand new products, the pursuit of customers, and high competition, it is more important than ever to be able to react quickly. Process automation provides this opportunity.

Disadvantages of IaC

Since IaC is very code dependent, there is a problem of finding experts to code in specific languages. A shortage of specialists can be the reason for limiting your potential for using IaC.
Monitoring IaC can be challenging as additional tracking tools may be required. It will probably be challenging to track the usage as well as the capacity of old monitoring tools. Also, international companies will have to think about more effective monitoring tools.

Ways to automate

There are four main ideas for infrastructure automation:

1) Using REST API

Using Postman or Insomnia or HTTP support, you can directly interact with the REST API from any programming language.
This approach is quite flexible because development can be carried out in any language, and any automation tools can be used.

Benefits

It is a highly flexible approach that supports development in any language or automation tool.
Well suited if you need to expand your current tools with new features

Disadvantages

Probably may not be as convenient compared to other methods.
It takes more time compared to libraries or off-the-shelf tools.

2) Using client libraries / SDK

The client libraries can be used to perform a variety of administrative tasks. They are available in such programming languages used for client libraries development – Python or Golang SDK.

Benefits

Users appreciate this method as the most convenient. Development with it is much faster than with the REST API.
Can be integrated if there is Python or Go support

Disadvantages

Limitation in two programming languages

3) Using modern automation tools vCD

Ansible or Terraform supports this method well.
Thanks to these modules, operations such as server deployment are well automated.

Benefits

Declarative configuration possible
Can be understood and changed by a non-programmer

Disadvantages

It often leads to an increase in support costs when using only OSS projects.

4) Creating shell scripts with vCD-CLI

For reference, vCD-CLI is a Python-based command-line utility. It is used for VCD administration.

Benefits

Mac OS and Linux are a definite prototype in the installation through the Python PIP package manager.

Disadvantages

Installation on Windows will be hampered by the additional installation of the Visual C ++ Build Tool

Examples of IaC

Terraform is an open-source code. It is available for free download and use of the basic version. Paid versions are also available for co-management.
AWS CloudFormation is an IaC tool for AWS that anyone working with such AWS products needs. AWS Pricing requires users to pay only for the resources they have reserved, so there is no additional cost to using this tool.
Google Cloud Deployment Manager is a tool available for free to those who receive their IaaS resources from Google.

If you want to know more about the automation of your product, you should read about Infrastructure as code best practices.

Summary

Initially, IT infrastructure management is a manual task. The physical installation of the servers, the correct settings, and the installation of the operating system had to be done before starting to deploy the application. This process takes a lot of time, energy, and resources entailing problems. Cloud computing allows you to configure the infrastructure in such a way that the issues of scalability and availability are solved. IaC is the future in infrastructure management. Previously, preparing a complete software cycle required several hours of work, while only one script needs to be created. Therefore, it is now almost impossible to do without virtualized software-controlled hardware.

Parul Saxena
Parul Saxena is a writer and editor with experience in various genres of writing in various industries. A content creator who loves to write on the latest technologies and their impact on businesses and everyday life.

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