Jump down from your cloud! And let’s talk about clouding information, and the serious thing is to make the best choice between Terraform vs. AWS CloudFormation. There are two main ways to manage infrastructure on AWS: Terraform and CloudFormation. Both have their pros and cons, but in general, Terraform is more popular and widely used than CloudFormation. Here’s a quick overview of the main differences between both.

Terraform is a tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. Terraform can manage existing and popular service providers as well as custom in-house solutions.

CloudFormation is a tool for modeling and provisioning AWS resources. It allows you to use a template to create and delete all the resources needed for your application in an orderly and predictable fashion.

To assimilate the concept, you will have to learn about the infrastructure as a code, to blow all doubts about how you could start to build under a software basis if you get genuine interest in this. Followed by the exposure to the benefits and troubles of both popular options.

Is Terraform and CloudFormation the same?

No, Terraform is not the same as CloudFormation. They are both infrastructure as code (IaC) tools, but they differ in terms of how they are used and what they are used for. There are too many differences in conception and design. If the question refers to Terraform and CloudFormation working in the same industry, yes.

These tools are designed to apply changes in infrastructure to code file level, and it has been a success for organizations to save overcoats and resolve each challenge from their estate in minutes.

Terraform is a tool from Hashicorp that allows you to define your infrastructure as code. This means that you can use a single configuration file to manage all of your AWS resources. Terraform also supports multiple cloud providers, so you can use it to manage resources on other clouds besides AWS.

CloudFormation is an AWS-specific tool that allows you to define your infrastructure as code. This means that you can use a single configuration file to manage all of your AWS resources.

The big deal is that just one of these is more friendly than another if we are discussing compatible tools in the market.

Checking the balance Terraform’s <Pros and >Cons

Terraform is currently the open code most known cloud provider tool created by HashiCorp to onboard implementations from an agnostic concept of HCL and:

  • Find the freedom to integrate and display it with many cloud providers, such as laaS, CDK, and even BBDD as Google Cloud Platform, Azure, GitHub, GitLab, Datadog, and a lot else.
  • Language and intuitive user interface: Terraform uses a similar JSON; the HashiCorp Language (HCL) defines the resources, and other data and results are straightforward to catch and follow the documentation, even to junior developers.
  • Terraform performance executes itself faster than CDK from AWS because it takes longer to convert the code at CloudFormation templates.
  • Terraform, as an open-source project, is not free. So, it offers licenses to devs users like an enterprise product, including support.
  • When dealing with the right IAC tool, as part of a big project being run by several devs. Although it is as simple as learning a new code, some programming data handling results are not easy to do. At least not for juniors.
  • There are still some provider options missing. So, some work needs to be done manually.
  • The state file management could be better. Although wrapper solutions like Terragrunt exist, Terraform’s native capabilities, with state management, would be even better.

Cloudformation pros and cons

CloudFormation is accessible to provision AWS resources and updates them. It supports rollback. It also allows you to see the changes that will be applied using changesets. It is transactional; either all the resources are updated, or none are.

  • AWS is the world’s leading cloud computing service, with twice the market share of the following cloud provider after it. There are over 200 services on AWS that can serve hundreds and thousands of use cases.
  • CloudFormation will save you plenty of time if you have multiple environments for your application. You create one template and use it for all, knowing they will behave as expected.
  • It has well-designed documentation, which helps me to effectively use the features and integrate with other AWS services.
  • CloudFormation’s templates cannot have complex logic, making them easy to understand. But this limited logic support sometimes forces us to create separate files for our development and production environments.
  • The syntax is notably more confusing. HashiCorp’s HCL makes it much easier to write and visualize what it is trying to create. CloudFormation only works on AWS; if you are working on anything else, you’ll have to learn a different tool.
  • Once you create the stack in CloudFormation, it is impossible to change the stack’s name.
  • For troubleshooting, tracking error logs in the associated Cloud Watch entries is quite challenging in CloudFormation.

How does Terraform fit in your infrastructure?

Terraform has several advantages over manually managing your infrastructure: Terraform can manage infrastructure on multiple cloud platforms. The human-readable configuration language helps you write infrastructure code quickly. Terraform’s state allows you to track resource changes throughout your deployments.

How does CloudFormation fit in your infrastructure?

Rather than bothering with this, CloudFormation offers a way to model the structure and configuration of all of your resources. This is done with a YAML or JSON template, which contains all the required info for your product stack, including resources that need to be created, parameters and configuration for those resources, and the outputs they return. This file can be version controlled through Git and even used to create a continuous deployment pipeline that will automatically push changes.

What about Ansible and Puppet?

Ansible and Puppet are both configuration management tools. This means that they can be used to manage your infrastructure, but they are not specific to AWS. Both Ansible and Puppet can be used to manage AWS resources, but they will require additional plugins or modules to do so.

Ansible is widely considered to be simpler to install and use. For this reason, although it is not the best alternative for Terraform, it does fit very well in the next phase after creating the infrastructure, which is provisioning it.

Puppet is model-driven and was built with systems administrators in mind. It Follows a client-server (or agent-master) architecture; you install Puppet Server on one or more servers and then install Puppet Agent on all the modes you want to manage.

Final thoughts

Overall, both the AWS CDK and Terraform are mature and powerful tools. Terraform has a slight drawback when it comes to data manipulation. Using workarounds and performing data transformations becomes easier once you get familiar with writing Terraform.

Terraform is an obvious choice for multi-cloud operations; however, the AWS CDK is an excellent option if you want to use AWS as your cloud provider.

But that is why if we add to Terraform the use of other specific provisioning tools, such as Ansible, which, among other advantages, will be able to inform us of the errors and more helpful information found during a said phase, we can have a complete solution to automate the entire process of creating and configuring new resources on demand.

Leave your experience and intuition to decide when you must face up to them.

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