Infrastructure as a code – AWS best practices

Nowadays, cloud is no longer a technology of tomorrow and a curious tech marvel, rather a bread and butter of innovative businesses worldwide. The preference of sharing computing resources in fully virtualized environments over relying on local servers is well-founded.

With great tools such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), cloud is reducing overall costs of IT and labour, limiting human error possibilities and introducing great scalability of infrastructure, enhanced flexibility and increased resiliency and security of data, which often is a primary concern to enterprises. No wonder investing in setup and maintenance of on-premise resources in most cases is not sexy anymore.

But concepts such as Infrastructure as Code (IaC) promise that there’s much, much more in cloud for businesses rather than ‘just’ on-demand scalability and cost-cutting. Since most modern enterprises are already aware it’s high time to get rid of traditional ‘racked and stacked’ hardware and are harnessing the benefits of cloud, why not take it to the next level with and increase the speed and agility of infrastructure deployment even more?

And how to do it? You will find out in our article’s sections:

  • Crack the infrastructure!
  • The benefits of Infrastructures as  Code 
  • AWS best practices
  • The rise of Infrastructure as Code

Crack the Infrastructure!

Kief Morris, head of Continuous Delivery for ThoughtWorks Europe said:

 

Infrastructure as code is an approach to managing IT infrastructure for the age of cloud, microservices and continuous delivery.

To the point! Although it’s still a relatively trending concept, Infrastructure as Code introduces automation to the provisioning process. IaC can be understood as a method of managing virtualization of infrastructure with the use of automation tools. If we can deploy and manage software apps, why treat virtual machines differently? Instead of going manually with configuration, administrators and/or developers are able to initiate cloud infrastructure using configuration files. These files are treated by IaC as traditional software code and used to compute, storage, network and create application services to comprise and operating environment.

Infrastructure as code – AWS best practices

Clearly, it’s the way to go!

Eventually, the process of defining infrastructure solely using code results in the elimination of configuration issues thanks to introducing automation. That significantly increases setting up new infrastructure and allows for continuous system improvement and development. !

The benefits of Infrastructure as Code

IaC is reducing Cloud downgrades but also brings much more to the table. The benefits are many:

  • Consistency of configuration

The traditional infrastructure deployment process is done manually and thus is vulnerable to discrepancies and human error. It’s a common scenario that configurations suffer differences that are hard to identify and debug. IaC approach introduces automation that completely standardizes the setup process, reducing chances of incompatibilities and boosting the overall performance of your systems.

  • Minimising risk

Above mentioned automation also significantly reduces other risks related to infrastructure setup. Wise companies treat it as a sort of documentation and set of procedures and processes that determine proper configuration. This makes your business well protected from hardware- and human-related risks.

  • Increased speed through simplicity

With Infrastructure as Code, setting up entire architecture is as simple as running a script. Same with databases, network infrastructure and storage systems, among others. No need to explain what performance boost it introduces! This also allows for safety improvements, as deploying backup environments is also fairly swift and straightforward.

  • Enhanced software development efficiency

Introducing IaC translates to the overall enhancement of developers’ productivity. With multiple separate staging environments for testing and development and easy deployment, both developers and QA’s can focus on the most important tasks, relying on stable infrastructure. Not to mention the benefits that come with best practices of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment!

  • Cost savings

Last but not least, IaC introduces significant savings in terms of cost. As developers are not tied up with manual work, they can focus on tasks that bring more money to the business. Moreover, IaC reduces necessary hardware and storage costs to zero and allow to scale the architecture up and down according to current needs, so you don’t have to pay for instances that are not used at the moment.

AWS best practices

It’s true that Infrastructure as Code approach directly translates into plenty of benefits, but in order to tap into that pool, you need to know how to do Cloud right in the first place.

It’s crucial to work with the most powerful, reliable and performant tools – that’s why highly recommend choosing AWS as the cloud provider.

When done right, AWS is secure and quickly delivers results. At the same time, it’s greatly scalable, helping to stay on top of cloud infrastructure costs (and risks!) That’s why it’s important to briefly underline just some of the best AWS practices. Proper focus on the below will allow you to fully harness the benefits of automated, virtual, cloud infrastructure.

1. Codify everything

IaC code should definitely be complete and approached holistically. It ought to explicitly cover all the necessary bits required to configure and deploy systems properly, including relations, networks, specifications and configurations of given components. In fact, the more – the better, at the end of the day we’re talking about automation, aren’t we?

2. Documentation

Some would say there’s no such thing as too much documentation, and that it’s a good practice to comment code and focus on proper documentation and additional, supporting instructions. Others would argue that it’s key to document as little as possible because code is essentially documentation that does not require additional comments.

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. With IaC the code itself truly stands as a sort of documentation, but on the other hand – sharing knowledge and focus on transparency is always a good idea. Try finding a reasonable balance!

3. Maintain version control

Tracking versions of code and documenting changes as you go is always a good practice. Managing, tracking and reconciling changes to code should be a standard when it comes to IaC within AWS. There’s plenty of tools available out there to maintain version control and improve collaboration and testing before deployment, don’t hesitate to make use of them!

4. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery

As with any other software, IaC is all about code. That’s why it should be comprehensively tested to eliminate bugs and inefficiencies. Continuous Integrations and Continuous Delivery cycles are definitely the best AWS practices to ensure regular audits and updates of the code behind IaC. Applying a wide variety of test types will greatly support earlier elimination of issues, so focus on testing and security. Bear in mind that’s not something that’s done a one-off, it’s rather a standard to implement and consistently work on. Remember, forewarned is forearmed!

5. Modularity

Another good practice would be to build software using a microservices architecture, basing on lighter code modules independently forming a bigger component. This is a reasonable IaC approach, as it increases control over access to particular parts (modules) of code. What’s more, as a consequence of this approach, changes are being made to only a small part of the code, not affecting the whole configuration, which is clearly safer and increases agility.

6. Immutability

Have you ever tried replacing infrastructure components instead of changing them? Thanks to this approach you can improve security, at the same time eliminating drift in the configuration. No edits also mean increased consistency, as you simply get rid of unused infrastructure stack rather than re-working it.

The rise of Infrastructure as Code

Without doubt, automation is a trend to observe and follow in the upcoming years, also when it comes to cloud environment.

Although IaC within AWS invites developers and architects to take an unusual approach to coding, it really allows to leverage it throughout the entire lifecycle of cloud infrastructure. Benefits of speed, scalability, modularity, security, availability, efficiency, simplicity, cost-effectiveness introduced by Amazon Web Services and Infrastructure as Code surely are taking IT maturity of a business to the next level.

Sounds like something any enterprise would like to tap into, doesn’t it? Give IaC a go!

 

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And at Asper Brothers we also use AWS! So whenever you need help in configuration, don’t hesitate and contact us! Our specialists will help you right away.

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