What would you choose between manually handling, controlling, and configuring the hardware and software required for application operation and having a curated algorithm or a sorted infrastructure to handle this?
The answer is obvious: the sorted infrastructure option, also known as Infrastructure as code, which manages your IT infrastructure through configuration files.
According to global market insights, the Infrastructure as Code Market was valued at USD 450 million in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 25% from 2022 to 2030. But do you know what IaC means? Let’s understand and break down the complete workflow of IaC:
In layman's language, you are coding your infrastructure. In this context, "infrastructure" includes all virtualized servers, database instances, network configurations, security and firewall components, and so forth. Their entire infrastructure, including the configuration and code for the applications, can be codified.
You can use code management techniques as your infrastructure gets bigger and more complex because it is now code. The code can be separated into modules, each of which can be tested separately. These components can be used consistently across a variety of contexts and documented. If your module needs to be fixed, you can deploy it everywhere it was used after a single fix.
In the past, businesses employed a large number of professionals, including network engineers, technicians, maintenance operators, etc., to carry out the necessary duties at each stage of the process. All of those people must be managed in addition to being paid, of course. This raises management costs and makes internal organizational communication more challenging. However, things have changed dramatically in recent years. The way businesses plan, create, and maintain their IT sector has changed as a result of cloud computing.
The increase in the use of digital services has accelerated the transition to cloud-based IaC solutions by causing explosive growth in customer data and a rise in demand for network latency elimination. A variety of cost-effective advantages are offered by contemporary software solutions, which also increase business agility.
IaC aims to solve the following issues, primarily by doing away with the need for manual resource maintenance, which involved installing and configuring servers physically and overseeing all IT resources and infrastructure:
1. Cost: One of the most crucial elements is cost-cutting; the business must lower its expenses, which IaC enables it to do. Hiring experts to manage their infrastructure increases management overhead, complicates internal communication, and raises the cost factor due to salaries and management costs.
2. Efficiency and Speed: Manual labor is not always as quick or efficient, and applications frequently struggle with spikes in traffic while system administrators desperately try to set up servers to handle the load, which has an impact on the application's availability. The effectiveness of the entire software development lifecycle can be increased with IaC. This applies to all environments, including development testing, staging as well as production and others.
3. Error Handling: When hiring people to manage your servers, you can't ignore the error factor because human error is always a possibility and needs to be addressed. However, once you have developed the code or algorithm for the management of your resources and how everything is to be managed, you have inadvertently completed the task of handling errors.
After successfully turning your infrastructure into code, you can employ code management techniques as it gets bigger and more intricate. The code can be separated into modules, each of which can be tested separately. These components can be used consistently across a variety of contexts and documented. If your module needs to be fixed, you can deploy it everywhere it was used after a single fix. Aside from that, using Infrastructure as Code has a lot of benefits, including
The developed code can reliably provision your cloud infrastructure thousands of times. You can even distribute this code as an open-source package, allowing the entire world to use it fast and reliably
Allowing for version-controlled infrastructure and configuration modifications, which results in trackable and auditable setups
Integrating with CI/CD platforms directly
It also helps you build robust apps and ensure that they run as expected. It also helps you manage your costs and save money
Because this is code, it can be subjected to automated tests that will find the majority of the bugs, and this in turn makes it more coherent to fix bugs
Enabling infrastructure changes to be made in a timely and effective manner in tandem with application development
IaC tools can be divided into two categories: those that use an imperative approach and those that use a declarative approach.
The imperative approach gives orders to the system, telling it what to do. It's typically used when you create a system that needs to be completely controlled and managed. It specifies a set of commands or instructions that must be followed for the infrastructure to achieve the desired result. To understand it simply lets take an example: Let’s say you have an app that read “Time Is Money” and you want to change it
The declarative approach, on the other hand, allows you to define what you want the system to do. This is the most common type of IaC tool, and it's typically used when you need to define and manage variables in your system.
Let's look at an example to better understand both approaches: Assume you have an application that reads "Time Is Money" on the screen on the left side and you want to change the text; in the Imperative method, you must create any function like AlterText and implement it to change it, whereas, in the Declarative method, you simply state the required and updated text, and the infrastructure will accomplish it.
In general, the declarative approach is better because it's more flexible. This means that you can more easily change the instructions if necessary, or adapt them to meet your specific needs. Configuration drift, or the inevitable, slow changes to your infrastructure over time, is an issue that the declarative approach handles well. This is because the provisioning stages of the IaC tool are not explicitly defined. It is also more convenient to use because you only need to specify the endpoint, and infrastructure figures out the routes to reach the desired destination, and you can use these commands repeatedly.
Through 2030, the market segment share will increase due to the declarative approach's algorithms' ability to integrate new approaches while minimizing disruptions to routine operations and greatly simplifying optimization.
Even though IaC is a relatively new technology and relatively unknown, it is already being used in a variety of ways. It has a lot to offer businesses of all types, and it can especially help with cost reduction, operational efficiency, and speed to market.
To use IaC effectively, you must understand what you're doing and be able to accept feedback from team members. It's also worth noting that many solutions address a very specific problem, sometimes at a very precise stage of business development. The ideal way is to assess your company's most pressing demands and then select the appropriate infrastructure solution approach.