Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has transformed how IT infrastructure is managed. Organizations adopt and leverage IaC to better manage servers, storage, and networking through machine-readable definition files, departing from traditional manual processes. 

With the IaC market on track to reach $2.8 billion by 2028, executives must acknowledge its strategic importance for maintaining competitive edge and operational efficiency.

IaC provides a solution to the “snowflake” effect, wherein each environment is unique and difficult to replicate. Codifying infrastructure, organizations can achieve consistency across environments, reducing the risk of discrepancies and errors.

Organizations today face the challenge of aligning IT processes with broader business objectives. A strategic shift to automated infrastructure through IaC better syncs IT operations with business agility and innovation goals.

Understanding IaC, its processes and popular approaches

The IaC process from definition to deployment

The IaC process begins with defining infrastructure using a descriptive model, based on languages such as JSON or YAML – so that the infrastructure setup is transparent, version-controlled, and subject to the same rigor as application code.

Testing is a key part of the IaC process. Before deployment, the code undergoes rigorous checks for accuracy and consistency. Following successful testing, automated tools interpret the code to provision and manage infrastructure, maintaining consistency and eliminating manual errors.

Declarative vs. imperative approaches

IaC offers two primary approaches: declarative and imperative. In the declarative approach, teams define the desired end state of the infrastructure, leaving the IaC tool to determine how to achieve that state. This is favored for its idempotency, guaranteeing that repeated executions yield the same results for consistency across deployments.

On the other hand, the imperative approach requires teams to specify the exact steps and procedures to achieve the desired infrastructure state. While offering more control, this method lacks the idempotency of the declarative approach, potentially leading to inconsistencies if the same procedures are executed multiple times.

Prominent IaC Tools and Their Applications


Terraform is known for its adaptability and ability to support multiple providers – allowing businesses to define infrastructure using a high-level configuration language that is both readable and writable. 

Terraform improves adaptability through its extensive provider ecosystem, supporting numerous service providers in addition to major players like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Multi-provider support allows organizations to manage a diverse set of infrastructure resources within a single workflow, optimizing their IT operations for efficiency and scalability.

AWS CloudFormation and Azure ARM Templates 

AWS CloudFormation and Azure ARM Templates provide tailored solutions for their respective cloud services. AWS CloudFormation allows businesses to model their entire AWS infrastructure in a text file – facilitating provisioning and updating resources in an orderly and predictable fashion, eliminating the need for manual processes. 

Azure ARM Templates provide a declarative syntax in JSON to define and deploy Azure resources. Templates simplify the process of managing Azure-specific resources so that businesses can rapidly adapt to changes in their Azure environment.

Skill requirements and training for IaC

Adopting IaC requires a unique set of skills. Professionals must be proficient in coding to define infrastructure through code – and have deep understanding version control systems like Git, which are key for tracking changes in infrastructure definitions.

An in-depth knowledge of the specific IaC tools in use is also must-have. Whether it be mastering Terraform’s syntax or understanding the nuances of CloudFormation or Azure ARM Templates, expertise in these tools is decisive for correct IaC implementation.

To bridge this skill gap, organizations are investing more heavily in training programs for their IT staff. Programs here often focus on the fundamentals of IaC, coding best practices, and hands-on experience with the tools. In cases where immediate expertise is required, some businesses opt to outsource IaC functions to vendors with established expertise.

Benefits of IaC implementation

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) can transform IT infrastructure deployment, building better efficiency, security, and consistency. Organizations that expertly leverage IaC see improvements in their ROI and better usage of cloud resources. Businesses can codify infrastructure to gain the ability to deploy and scale their IT environments rapidly, responding to market changes with agility and maintaining a competitive edge.

Integration of IaC in DevOps

Integrating IaC within DevOps practices is a more recent evolution in software development and infrastructure management. IaC has become a core pillar in Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, allowing for better automated testing, deployment, and maintenance of infrastructure alongside application code. 

Tools such as Jenkins, GitLab, and CircleCI are key in this integration, so that teams can automate their workflows and achieve faster and more reliable deliveries.

Synergy between IaC and DevOps accelerates deployment cycles, reduces manual errors, and aligns infrastructure closely with application needs. As a result, organizations can achieve a more streamlined operation, whereby  developers, operations teams, and quality assurance professionals collaborate to drive innovation and efficiency.

Best practices for IaC implementation

Code as the “single source of truth”

Adopting the principle of “code as the single source of truth” in IaC – when done right – keeps infrastructure consistent, reliable, and easily replicable. This entails defining all infrastructure components in code, which acts as the ultimate reference for the infrastructure state. In turn, this promotes transparency, as any team member can review the code to understand the infrastructure setup, allowing for better collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Emphasizing immutable infrastructure

The concept of immutable infrastructure involves treating infrastructure components as replaceable, rather than mutable. When a change is required, a new instance of the infrastructure is created from a common code base, and the old instance is discarded. This minimizes the risks associated with ad-hoc changes and drifts in the environment, leading to more stable and predictable operations.

Organizations that prioritize immutable infrastructure benefit from simplified rollback procedures, reduced downtime, and a more robust security posture. Companies embrace this to make sure that their infrastructure evolves in a controlled, predictable manner.

Tim Boesen

April 11, 2024

5 Min