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AWS OpsWorks
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AWS OpsWorks vs Terraform: What are the differences?

Developers describe AWS OpsWorks as "Model and manage your entire application from load balancers to databases using Chef". Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component . On the other hand, Terraform is detailed as "Describe your complete infrastructure as code and build resources across providers". With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.

AWS OpsWorks can be classified as a tool in the "Server Configuration and Automation" category, while Terraform is grouped under "Infrastructure Build Tools".

Some of the features offered by AWS OpsWorks are:

  • AWS OpsWorks lets you model the different components of your application as layers in a stack, and maps your logical architecture to a physical architecture. You can see all resources associated with your application, and their status, in one place.
  • AWS OpsWorks provides an event-driven configuration system with rich deployment tools that allow you to efficiently manage your applications over their lifetime, including support for customizable deployments, rollback, partial deployments, patch management, automatic instance scaling, and auto healing.
  • AWS OpsWorks lets you define template configurations for your entire environment in a format that you can maintain and version just like your application source code.

On the other hand, Terraform provides the following key features:

  • Infrastructure as Code: Infrastructure is described using a high-level configuration syntax. This allows a blueprint of your datacenter to be versioned and treated as you would any other code. Additionally, infrastructure can be shared and re-used.
  • Execution Plans: Terraform has a "planning" step where it generates an execution plan. The execution plan shows what Terraform will do when you call apply. This lets you avoid any surprises when Terraform manipulates infrastructure.
  • Resource Graph: Terraform builds a graph of all your resources, and parallelizes the creation and modification of any non-dependent resources. Because of this, Terraform builds infrastructure as efficiently as possible, and operators get insight into dependencies in their infrastructure.

"Devops" is the top reason why over 27 developers like AWS OpsWorks, while over 80 developers mention "Infrastructure as code" as the leading cause for choosing Terraform.

Terraform is an open source tool with 17.4K GitHub stars and 4.77K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Terraform's open source repository on GitHub.

Instacart, Slack, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Terraform, whereas AWS OpsWorks is used by DeveloperTown, Third Iron, and TENDIGI, LLC. Terraform has a broader approval, being mentioned in 490 company stacks & 298 developers stacks; compared to AWS OpsWorks, which is listed in 73 company stacks and 18 developer stacks.

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What is AWS OpsWorks?

Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component 

What is Terraform?

With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
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      What are some alternatives to AWS OpsWorks and Terraform?
      Chef
      Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.
      AWS Elastic Beanstalk
      Once you upload your application, Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
      AWS Config
      AWS Config is a fully managed service that provides you with an AWS resource inventory, configuration history, and configuration change notifications to enable security and governance. With AWS Config you can discover existing AWS resources, export a complete inventory of your AWS resources with all configuration details, and determine how a resource was configured at any point in time. These capabilities enable compliance auditing, security analysis, resource change tracking, and troubleshooting.
      AWS CloudFormation
      You can use AWS CloudFormation鈥檚 sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don鈥檛 need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work.
      AWS CodeDeploy
      AWS CodeDeploy is a service that automates code deployments to Amazon EC2 instances. AWS CodeDeploy makes it easier for you to rapidly release new features, helps you avoid downtime during deployment, and handles the complexity of updating your applications.
      See all alternatives
      Decisions about AWS OpsWorks and Terraform
      John Kodumal
      John Kodumal
      CTO at LaunchDarkly | 3 upvotes 93.2K views
      atLaunchDarklyLaunchDarkly
      Ansible
      Ansible
      Spinnaker
      Spinnaker
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Packer
      Packer
      Armory
      Armory

      LaunchDarkly is almost a five year old company, and our methodology for deploying was state of the art... for 2014. We recently undertook a project to modernize the way we #deploy our software, moving from Ansible-based deploy scripts that executed on our local machines, to using Spinnaker (along with Terraform and Packer) as the basis of our deployment system. We've been using Armory's enterprise Spinnaker offering to make this project a reality.

      See more
      Joseph Kunzler
      Joseph Kunzler
      DevOps Engineer at Tillable | 9 upvotes 82.9K views
      atTillableTillable
      Amazon S3
      Amazon S3
      Amazon EC2
      Amazon EC2
      AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
      AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
      AWS CloudFormation
      AWS CloudFormation
      Terraform
      Terraform

      We use Terraform because we needed a way to automate the process of building and deploying feature branches. We wanted to hide the complexity such that when a dev creates a PR, it triggers a build and deployment without the dev having to worry about any of the 'plumbing' going on behind the scenes. Terraform allows us to automate the process of provisioning DNS records, Amazon S3 buckets, Amazon EC2 instances and AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)'s. It also makes it easy to tear it all down when finished. We also like that it supports multiple clouds, which is why we chose to use it over AWS CloudFormation.

      See more
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Google Cloud Deployment Manager
      Google Cloud Deployment Manager
      AWS CloudFormation
      AWS CloudFormation

      I use Terraform because it hits the level of abstraction pocket of being high-level and flexible, and is agnostic to cloud platforms. Creating complex infrastructure components for a solution with a UI console is tedious to repeat. Using low-level APIs are usually specific to cloud platforms, and you still have to build your own tooling for deploying, state management, and destroying infrastructure.

      However, Terraform is usually slower to implement new services compared to cloud-specific APIs. It's worth the trade-off though, especially if you're multi-cloud. I heard someone say, "We want to preference a cloud, not lock in to one." Terraform builds on that claim.

      Terraform Google Cloud Deployment Manager AWS CloudFormation

      See more
      Pedro Arnal Puente
      Pedro Arnal Puente
      CTO at La Cupula Music SL | 7 upvotes 184.8K views
      atLa Cupula Music SLLa Cupula Music SL
      Debian
      Debian
      Amazon EC2
      Amazon EC2
      Amazon S3
      Amazon S3
      Amazon RDS for Aurora
      Amazon RDS for Aurora
      Redis
      Redis
      Amazon ElastiCache
      Amazon ElastiCache
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Packer
      Packer
      Ansible
      Ansible

      Our base infrastructure is composed of Debian based servers running in Amazon EC2 , asset storage with Amazon S3 , and Amazon RDS for Aurora and Redis under Amazon ElastiCache for data storage.

      We are starting to work in automated provisioning and management with Terraform , Packer , and Ansible .

      See more
      Google Cloud IoT Core
      Google Cloud IoT Core
      Terraform
      Terraform
      Python
      Python
      Google Cloud Deployment Manager
      Google Cloud Deployment Manager
      Google Cloud Build
      Google Cloud Build
      Google Cloud Run
      Google Cloud Run
      Google Cloud Bigtable
      Google Cloud Bigtable
      Google BigQuery
      Google BigQuery
      Google Cloud Storage
      Google Cloud Storage
      Google Compute Engine
      Google Compute Engine
      GitHub
      GitHub

      Context: I wanted to create an end to end IoT data pipeline simulation in Google Cloud IoT Core and other GCP services. I never touched Terraform meaningfully until working on this project, and it's one of the best explorations in my development career. The documentation and syntax is incredibly human-readable and friendly. I'm used to building infrastructure through the google apis via Python , but I'm so glad past Sung did not make that decision. I was tempted to use Google Cloud Deployment Manager, but the templates were a bit convoluted by first impression. I'm glad past Sung did not make this decision either.

      Solution: Leveraging Google Cloud Build Google Cloud Run Google Cloud Bigtable Google BigQuery Google Cloud Storage Google Compute Engine along with some other fun tools, I can deploy over 40 GCP resources using Terraform!

      Check Out My Architecture: CLICK ME

      Check out the GitHub repo attached

      See more
      Interest over time
      Reviews of AWS OpsWorks and Terraform
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      How developers use AWS OpsWorks and Terraform
      Avatar of Royal Icing
      Royal Icing uses TerraformTerraform

      Terraform makes it so easy to deploy AWS and Google Cloud services, with the declarative approach avoiding so many headaches of manual work and possible mistakes.

      Avatar of B霉i Thanh
      B霉i Thanh uses TerraformTerraform
      • Infrastructure as Code.
      • Central tool to deploy all infratructure: AWS, CloudFlare, StatusCake
      Avatar of Prime Technologies
      Prime Technologies uses TerraformTerraform

      The entire AWS environments is described and setup using Terraform.

      Avatar of Binded
      Binded uses TerraformTerraform

      All of our infrastructure is stored as code thanks to Terraform.

      Avatar of Razorpay
      Razorpay uses TerraformTerraform

      We orchestrate our AWS infrastructure using Terraform.

      Avatar of thanawatsenawat
      thanawatsenawat uses AWS OpsWorksAWS OpsWorks

      Automate deploy application without SMTP.

      Avatar of Hund
      Hund uses AWS OpsWorksAWS OpsWorks

      Chef server deployments.

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