Research Hub > Infrastructure as Code: The Backbone of Modern Platform Engineering
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Infrastructure as Code: The Backbone of Modern Platform Engineering

What you need to know about IaC, platform engineering and multicloud infrastructure.

Among this year’s top 10 strategic technology trends, Gartner lists platform engineering as a game-changer for software developers to enable accelerated delivery of business value. This comes at a time when more businesses are embracing the cloud and DevOps, driving the need for a way to build and deploy cloud applications and infrastructures faster, easier and with more reliability. At the heart of platform engineering lies Infrastructure as code (IaC), a practice that's revolutionizing how we manage and provision infrastructure.

What Is Platform Engineering?

Platform engineering is a niche within software engineering dedicated to the development, upkeep and refinement of essential systems, tools and processes that underpin software development and cloud infrastructure. Many developers consider it a natural extension of DevOps.  

These platforms are built and customized to support the specific needs of developers and other users via common, reusable features and functionalities that enable self-service application and infrastructure development and deployment. Per Gartner, this includes cloud infrastructure, databases, container orchestration, networking, monitoring, code repositories and deployment pipelines. As we’ll discuss next, IaC tools, such as HashiCorp’s Terraform, are a key component to making platform engineering efficient and functional.

What Is Infrastructure as Code?

IaC enables the management and provisioning of infrastructure through code rather than manual processes. Instead of manually configuring servers, networks and databases, desired infrastructure states are defined in declarative configuration files or scripts. This approach comes with several benefits, including:

  • Automation: IaC enables automation of the entire infrastructure lifecycle, from configuration to provisioning. This reduces manual errors, ensures consistency and speeds up development cycles.
  • Version control: By treating infrastructure configurations such as code, changes can be tracked, roll backs to previous versions can be performed and collaboration can more effective.
  • Scalability: IaC makes it easier to scale infrastructure up or down based on demand, allowing quick response to necessary change.
  • Reproducibility: IaC allows recreation of infrastructure environments consistently, whether it is for development, testing or production. This eliminates the issues of working in only one environment.

The Role of IaC in Achieving Your Platform Engineering Visions

Converting infrastructure into code allows for a pipeline architecture approach. This approach means leveraging existing templates of code and performing a set of tasks against it. It includes automated quality assurance processes. The use of pipelines allows development teams to deliver software and scale infrastructure efficiently, which is paramount when operating in a cloud or multicloud environment characterized by perpetual elasticity. 

Here’s four ways IaC achieves that goal: 

  1. Self-service infrastructure: IaC allows platform engineers to create reusable templates and modules that developers can easily provision and configure on demand. This reduces the reliance on manual intervention from operations teams.
  2. Consistent environments: IaC ensures that development, testing and production environments are consistent, reducing the risk of configuration drift and unexpected issues.
  3. Faster feedback loops: By automating infrastructure provisioning and configuration, IaC enables faster feedback loops, allowing developers to iterate more quickly and deliver features faster.
  4. Improved collaboration: IaC encourages collaboration between development, operations and security teams. By working together on infrastructure code, they can ensure that security and compliance requirements are met from the start.

The Future of Your Cloud Infrastructure

As platform engineering continues to gain momentum in a cloud-driven world, IaC tools such as Terraform will become more critical to managing infrastructure. It is likely only a matter of time before everyone managing a multicloud or hybrid cloud environment will be using tools like these. But time is of the essence where outages, misconfigurations, knowledge/skill gaps and speed to market are concerned.

As a leading technology integrator partnered with the industry’s leading cloud and platform engineering technology providers, CDW is uniquely positioned to help you evolve your approach to cloud DevOps, platform engineering and cloud infrastructure architecture.

Neil Wylie

Chief Architect for DevOps and SRE
Neil Wylie is the Chief Architect for DevOps and SRE within the Digital Velocity team of CDW. He is responsible for defining the company's opinionated approach to solutions within the DevOps space. Joining IGNW in 2019, Neil moved through several DevOps focused roles, assisting multiple customers before taking a role as the Chief Architect to define CDW's opinionated approach to Infrastructure as