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How to Build a Cost-Effective AWS Infrastructure using Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

Sarthak Kohli
By Sarthak Kohli
04 Aug, 2023
 

What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

Infrastructure should be defined in a logical and methodical manner, exactly like application code, according to the DevOps philosophy, which emphasizes treating infrastructure as code . Using tools and procedures similar to those used for application code, this method defines infrastructure as a collection of code scripts or configuration files that are tested, continually integrated, and deployed. As a result, it is possible to track and audit changes over time and manage and deploy infrastructure modifications using a consistent, repeatable approach. With this strategy, communication is enhanced, errors are decreased, and quicker and more frequent releases are possible.

IAC's goal is to improve infrastructure management's effectiveness, consistency, and dependability. Infrastructure components can be tested, deployed, and versioned using the same procedures and tools as software code by treating infrastructure as code. As a result, deployments are quicker and more dependable, teamwork is simpler, and swift rollbacks of modifications are possible when necessary.

Available options and its features

 
  • Configuration Management Tools: Automating the configuration of virtual machines, servers, and other infrastructure components is possible with the help of configuration management solutions, which concentrate on customizing software and systems. Ansible, Puppet, and Chef are a few configuration management tool illustrations.
  • Orchestration Tools: These tools allow you to automate the deployment and configuration of multiple systems or services, and are often used in cloud environments. Examples of IaC tools for orchestration include Terraform and CloudFormation.
  • Scripting Languages: Scripting languages like Python, Ruby, and PowerShell can be used to write code that automates the configuration and deployment of infrastructure components.
  • Containerization Tools: Containerization tools like Docker can be used to package applications and their dependencies into containers, which can be deployed to various environments in a consistent and repeatable manner. Docker also supports Container Orchestration that can help save substantial costs on AWS.
  • Infrastructure Provisioning Tools: These tools automate the process of creating and configuring infrastructure resources, such as virtual machines and networks. Examples of infrastructure provisioning tools include Packer, Vagrant, and OpenStack Heat.
 

Following reasons make IAC Cost Effective

 
  • Eliminating manual infrastructure setup: IAC automates the setup of infrastructure, eliminating the need for manual setup, which can be time-consuming, error-prone, and expensive.
  • Faster and more efficient deployments: With IAC, infrastructure can be created and updated much more quickly and efficiently, reducing the time and cost of deployments.
  • Reduced risk of errors: IAC makes it possible to build up infrastructure with greater accuracy and consistency, lowering the possibility of mistakes and the accompanying expenses of downtime and maintenance.
  • Improved resource use: IAC can improve resource use by allowing infrastructure to scale up or down automatically in response to demand, saving money on over-provisioned resources.
  • Simplified management and maintenance: IAC makes it easier to manage and maintain infrastructure over time, reducing the need for manual intervention and enabling AWS cost optimization by reducing costs associated with support and maintenance.
 

Terraform

Terraform is one of the widely used infrastructure as code tools that enables you to create, modify, and version your cloud and on-premises resources in a safe and efficient manner.

HashiCorp Terraform is an IaC tool that allows you to define your cloud and on-premises resources using easy-to-read configuration files that you can share and reuse. With Terraform, you can provision and manage your entire infrastructure using a consistent workflow. Terraform can handle various components, from low-level elements such as compute, storage, and networking resources to higher-level ones like DNS entries and SaaS capabilities.

Terraform leverages APIs to create and manage resources on cloud platforms and other services. Providers allow Terraform to work with almost any service or platform that has an API interface.

As for the core Terraform workflow, it has three stages:

Write: In this stage, you specify the resources that you want to create or modify, which can span multiple cloud providers and services. For instance, you can define a configuration that deploys an application on virtual machines within a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) network that has security groups and a load balancer.

Plan: Terraform generates an execution plan that outlines how it will create, update, or remove the infrastructure based on your configuration and the existing resources.

Apply: Once you approve the plan, Terraform applies the changes in the correct order, taking into account any dependencies between resources. For example, if you modify the properties of a VPC and change the number of virtual machines within it, Terraform will recreate the VPC before scaling the virtual machines.

We can use Terraform for managing our infrastructure, collaborating, tracking our infrastructure, automating changes, and it also helps in AWS cost optimization. Terraform uses a "plan and apply" model to make changes to infrastructure. This allows you to preview the changes that will be made before applying them, reducing the risk of errors and unnecessary changes that can result in unexpected costs.

AWS Cloudformation

CloudFormation is an AWS Infrastructure as Code tool that aids in the modeling and configuration of your AWS resources so that you may spend more time concentrating on your AWS-based applications and less time managing those resources. The AWS resources you require (such as Amazon EC2 instances or Amazon RDS DB instances) are listed in a template that you build, and CloudFormation handles the provisioning and configuration of those resources on your behalf. CloudFormation takes care of the creation, configuration, and identification of the dependencies between AWS resources, so you don't have to.

Below are the few features of AWS Cloudformation

Simplify infrastructure management

You might use an Auto Scaling group, an Elastic Load Balancing load balancer, and an Amazon Relational Database Service database instance for a scalable web application that also has a backend database. These resources might be provisioned using each service separately, and after they are made, they would need to be configured to function together. Before you even get your application running, all of these procedures can add complexity and time.

Instead, you can create a CloudFormation template or modify an existing one, which describes all your resources and their properties. When you use that template to create a CloudFormation stack, CloudFormation provisions the Auto Scaling group, load balancer, and database for you. After the stack has been successfully created, your AWS resources would be taken up and running. You can delete the stack just as easily, which deletes all the resources in the stack. CloudFormation simplifies AWS Infrastructure as Code practices, by easily managing a collection of resources as a single unit.

Quickly replicate your infrastructure

If your application requires additional availability, you might replicate it in multiple regions so that if one region becomes unavailable, your users can still use your application in other regions. The challenge in replicating your application is that it also requires you to replicate your resources. Not only do you need to record all the resources that your application requires, but you must also provision and configure those resources in each region.

Reuse your CloudFormation template to create your resources in a consistent and repeatable manner. To reuse your template for the Infrastructure as Code practice, describe your resources once and then provision the same resources over and over in multiple regions.

Easily control and track changes to your infrastructure

In some cases, you might have underlying resources that you want to upgrade incrementally. For example, you might change to a higher performing instance type in your Auto Scaling launch configuration so that you can reduce the maximum number of instances in your Auto Scaling group. If problems occur after you complete the update, you might need to roll back your infrastructure to the original settings. To do this manually, you not only have to remember which resources were changed, you also have to know what the original settings were.

While performing Infrastructure as Code exercise with a CloudFormation template, it describes exactly what resources are provisioned and their settings. Because these templates are text files, you simply track differences in your templates to track changes to your infrastructure, similar to the way developers control revisions to source code. For example, you can use a version control system with your templates so that you know exactly what changes were made, who made them, and when. If at any point you need to reverse changes to your infrastructure, you can use a previous version of your template.

With these properties, the CloudFormation service helps streamline the AWS cost management efforts of your organization.

AWS CDK

AWS CDK (Cloud Development Kit) is an open-source Infrastructure as Code tool developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS) for defining cloud infrastructure in code and deploying it using AWS CloudFormation. The CDK uses familiar programming languages such as TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, Java, C# and Go, to define AWS resources and infrastructure. This allows developers to leverage their existing coding skills and workflows to create and manage AWS infrastructure as code.

The AWS CDK provides a set of high-level object-oriented libraries, known as constructs, which are used to define AWS resources and infrastructure. These constructs are reusable and can be easily shared between projects and teams, allowing developers to create complex infrastructure patterns and architectures with ease. The CDK also includes a CLI tool for building, testing, and deploying AWS infrastructure using AWS CloudFormation.

The AWS CDK provides the flexibility and expressive power of a programming language to build highly scalable applications while also synergizing your cloud cost management efforts. This approach offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Utilize high-level constructs that offer secure defaults for your AWS resources, allowing you to define more infrastructure with less code.
  • Employ programming idioms like loops, composition, and inheritance to model your system design using building blocks provided by AWS and other sources.
  • Store your infrastructure, application code, and configuration all in one place, ensuring that you have a complete, cloud-deployable system at every milestone.
  • Use software engineering practices like code reviews, unit tests, and source control to make your infrastructure more robust.
  • Connect your AWS resources (even across stacks) and grant permissions using simple, intent-oriented APIs.
  • Utilize the power of AWS CloudFormation to deploy infrastructure predictably and repeatedly, with rollback on error.
  • Share design patterns used for the infrastructure as code frameworks, with teams within your organization or even with the public with ease.
 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the use of Infrastructure as Code (IAC) has become increasingly popular in the world of software development and IT operations. With IAC, teams can manage their infrastructure using code, allowing for greater automation, consistency, and scalability. By adopting IAC, organizations can achieve faster deployments, fewer errors, and improved collaboration between development and operations teams.

Additionally, IAC provides better control over the infrastructure, allows for easy tracking of changes and modifications and also helps with cloud cost management. Overall, the benefits of IAC are clear and can greatly improve an organization's software development and IT operations. We can use Terraform, AWS Cloudformation, AWS CDK,etc., for AWS cost optimization along with building the Infrastructure.

Streamline your Infrastructure as Code strategies with the help of architectural level guidance from our Cloud and FinOps experts at CloudKeeper. With end-to-end FinOps support, cutting-edge Cloud Cost Optimization solutions and resource-level usage insights, CloudKeeper helps you achieve substantial savings of up to 25% on your overall AWS bills. Talk to our experts today!

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