Infrastructure as Code: A Beginner’s Perspective

iac example diagram

Since the inception of the digital age in the 1970s with the introduction of the personal computer, we have made great strides in Information Technology. The IT sector is characterized by consistent innovation and a progressive shift away from manual tasks. Infrastructure as Code is emblematic of this shift away from the manual and towards the automatic.

Before IaC (Infrastructure as Code), system administrators had to manually provision, configure, and manage all the infrastructure – including hardware and software – required for applications to run. Now, infrastructure service providers can write code for managing and provisioning infrastructure.

As a beginner to IaC, here is a rundown of the basic information you need to know about Infrastructure as Code:

What is IaC?

Simply put, Infrastructure as Code refers to managing your IT infrastructure through configuration files instead of physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. With infrastructure solutions, your infrastructure is configured through an easily editable code file instead of manually changing configurations to manage infrastructure.

How does IaC work?

Infrastructure as Code tools work in various ways but can be divided primarily into two main types depending on which approach, they follow: the imperative approach or the declarative approach.

Tools that follow the imperative approach define a sequence of instructions for the infrastructure to reach the final result. Tools that follow the declarative approach, on the other hand, declare the final result instead of prescribing a specific sequence of commands for the infrastructure to follow.

The operation of Infrastructure as Code can be explained in three simple steps:

  1. First, developers write the Code in a domain-specific language.
  2. Next, the infrastructure specifications are sent to an automation API or server.
  3. Last, the platform creates, configures, and manages the computer resources according to the Code.

What are the main categories of tasks performed by IaC tools?

There are three main categories, or steps, of tasks performed by IaC tools:

  1. Infrastructure provisioning: Infrastructure provisioning refers to establishing new servers, the network configuration of the servers, and creating load balancers. It also includes configuration on the infrastructure level.
  2. Configuration of provisioned infrastructure: Configuration tasks include installing applications on servers, managing those apps, and preparing the infrastructure or servers to deploy your app.
  3. Deployment of application: The third category or step of tasks is the deployment of the application, which directly follows the first two steps (infrastructure provisioning and configuration of provisioned infrastructure).

What are the main types of IaC?

There are four main types of IaC:

  1. Scripting tools: Scripting tools work best for simple, short tasks.
  2. Configuration management tools: Configuration management tools are advanced tools that focus on downloading and configuring servers.
  3. Provisioning tools: Provisioning tools are used to create infrastructure and can specifically define infrastructure components.
  4. Containers and templating tools: Containers and templating tools generate templates encompassing all components required to run an application.

What are the benefits of IaC?

1. Saves time:

With infrastructure configuration, provision, and management automation, IaC frees developers and IT professionals from performing laborious manual tasks.

2. Saves money:

Employing infrastructure as a service tools helps you save money that would otherwise be spent on hardware, personnel to configure and manage infrastructure manually, and space to store the hardware.

3. Speeds up the software development lifecycle:

With IaC Infrastructure as Code tools, you can set up your infrastructure by simply running a code. Similarly, IaC speeds up the processes at every step of the software development life cycle.

4. Helps maintain accountability:

With Infrastructure as Code, the changes made during each configuration are traceable, eliminating the space for confusion about who made which changes.  

5. Maintains accuracy and consistency:

Humans will inevitably make mistakes. However, with IaC, configuration files are the only source of truth. That means that the same configurations will be deployed repeatedly, therefore, maintaining accuracy and consistency.

What are some popular IaC tools?

While there are dozens of infrastructure service providers in the market, the following four consistently rank among the top IaC tools:


One of the most popular tools for Infrastructure as Code, Terraform is an open-source tool for Infrastructure as Code automation created by HashiCorp. Terraform uses the declarative approach and creates ‘execution plans’ that delineate what will happen when you run your Code and automates changes with little manual effort.

AWS CloudFormation:

AWS CloudFormation provides cloud infrastructure and services to Code your infrastructure. Ranking among the best IaC Infrastructure as Code tools, AWS CloudFormation enables you to efficiently provision and manage multiple related Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as third-party resources.

Azure Resource Manager:

Azure Resource Manager is an Infrastructure as Code automation tool specific to the deployment and management of Azure resources. Instead of managing each resource separately, it allows Azure resources to be deployed and managed collectively.

Google Cloud Deployment Manager:

Google Cloud Deployment Manager is an IaC Infrastructure as Code tool that allows the configuration, provisioning, and management of resources on Google Cloud Platform. This tool uses the declarative approach and allows deployments of multiple resources simultaneously.

Key Takeaways:

        Now that you have read through this article, you should have gained some insight into Infrastructure as Code. As a beginner to IaC, here are the key points you should take home from this piece:

  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the provision, configuration, and management of the hardware and software used to run an application through Code.
  • Infrastructure solutions can operate according to one of two approaches: the imperative approach and the declarative approach.
  • There are four main types of IaC tools: scripting, configuration management, provisioning, and containers and templating tools.
  • IaC solutions have multiple benefits, including time and cost savings, increased speed, and maintenance of accountability and consistency.
  • There are many Infrastructure as Code tools on the market. Popular tools include Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, Azure Resource Manager, and Google Cloud Deployment Manager.

Infrastructure as Code is symbolic of the growing innovation and automation in the field of IT. The many benefits of IaC ensure that it is now increasingly preferred over traditional, manually performed processes of provisioning and management.

Moreover, with’s Drag and Drop IaC tool one can visually see the relationships within the infrastructure. This gives a profound understanding and insight of the code. IaC couldn’t be any easier!

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