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Beginner's Guide to Infrastructure as Code (IaC) - Part 2: Popular IaC Tools and Getting Started

Discover the most popular IaC tools and learn how to get started with IaC. Enhance your skills by integrating IaC into your workflows

In the first part of our beginner’s guide to Infrastructure as Code, which you can find here we introduced the concept of IaC and its importance in the modern DevOps and sysadmin landscape.

In this second part, we’ll explore popular IaC tools and platforms and provide a hands-on guide for getting started with IaC in your organization.

Article Outline

Popular IaC tools and platforms
  a. Terraform
  b. Ansible
  c. Chef
  d. Puppet
  e. AWS CloudFormation
Getting started with IaC
  a. Choose the right IaC tool
  b. Learn the tool-specific language
  c. Create your first infrastructure code
  d. Test and validate your code
  e. Integrate IaC into your CI/CD pipeline

There are several IaC tools and platforms available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some popular options:

a. Terraform: An open-source IaC tool developed by HashiCorp that allows you to define and manage infrastructure across multiple cloud providers using a declarative language called HCL (HashiCorp Configuration Language).


provider "aws" {
  region = "us-west-2"

resource "aws_instance" "example" {
  ami           = "ami-0c55b159cbfafe1f0"
  instance_type = "t2.micro"

  tags = {
    Name = "example-instance"

b. Ansible: An open-source configuration management and automation tool that uses a simple, human-readable language called YAML. Ansible is agentless, relying on SSH for remote execution, and is often used for managing server configurations.


- name: Install and start Nginx on Ubuntu
  hosts: all
  become: yes
    - name: Install Nginx
        name: nginx
        state: present

    - name: Start Nginx service
        name: nginx
        state: started

c. Chef: An open-source configuration management tool that uses a Ruby-based domain-specific language (DSL) to define infrastructure as code. Chef uses a client-server architecture and requires the installation of a Chef agent on managed nodes.


# cookbooks/my_web_server/recipes/default.rb

package 'httpd'

service 'httpd' do
  action [:enable, :start]

file '/var/www/html/index.html' do
  content '<html><body><h1>Hello, world!</h1></body></html>'
  mode '0644'
  owner 'root'
  group 'root'

d. Puppet: Another open-source configuration management tool that uses its own declarative DSL called Puppet DSL. Puppet can manage infrastructure in a client-server setup or in a standalone mode using Puppet Bolt.

class nginx {
  package { 'nginx':
    ensure => present,

  service { 'nginx':
    ensure     => running,
    enable     => true,
    require    => Package['nginx'],
    subscribe  => File['/etc/nginx/nginx.conf'],

  file { '/etc/nginx/nginx.conf':
    ensure  => file,
    owner   => 'root',
    group   => 'root',
    mode    => '0644',
    source  => 'puppet:///modules/nginx/nginx.conf',

include nginx

e. AWS CloudFormation: A cloud-native IaC service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that allows you to define and manage AWS resources using JSON or YAML templates.


    Type: AWS::S3::Bucket
      BucketName: my-example-bucket

Getting started with IaC

To get started with IaC, follow these steps:

a. Choose the right IaC tool: Based on your organization’s infrastructure needs, cloud provider(s), and existing skillset, select the most suitable IaC tool.

b. Learn the tool-specific language: Familiarize yourself with the syntax, structure, and best practices of the IaC tool’s language (e.g., HCL for Terraform, YAML for Ansible, or JSON for AWS CloudFormation).

c. Create your first infrastructure code: Start by defining a simple infrastructure component, such as a virtual machine or a network configuration, in your chosen IaC tool. Use the tool’s documentation and examples as a reference.

d. Test and validate your code: Ensure your IaC code is functional and adheres to best practices by using testing and validation techniques, such as static analysis, unit testing, and integration testing.

e. Integrate IaC into your CI/CD pipeline: Once you’re comfortable with your IaC tool and have successfully defined and tested infrastructure code, incorporate it into your CI/CD pipeline to automate the provisioning and management of infrastructure.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to successfully implementing Infrastructure as Code in your organization. As you gain experience and confidence with IaC, you’ll be able to further optimize your infrastructure management processes, reduce manual intervention, and increase the overall efficiency of your DevOps and sysadmin workflows.

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