Helm vs Terraform

Helm

596
397
+ 1
5
Terraform

6K
4.3K
+ 1
276
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Helm vs Terraform: What are the differences?

Helm: The Kubernetes Package Manager. Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes; Terraform: 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.

Helm can be classified as a tool in the "Container Tools" category, while Terraform is grouped under "Infrastructure Build Tools".

Helm and Terraform are both open source tools. It seems that Terraform with 17.7K GitHub stars and 4.83K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Helm with 12.6K GitHub stars and 4.06K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Terraform has a broader approval, being mentioned in 510 company stacks & 313 developers stacks; compared to Helm, which is listed in 85 company stacks and 23 developer stacks.

Decisions about Helm and Terraform

Because Pulumi uses real programming languages, you can actually write abstractions for your infrastructure code, which is incredibly empowering. You still 'describe' your desired state, but by having a programming language at your fingers, you can factor out patterns, and package it up for easier consumption.

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Sergey Ivanov
Overview

We use Terraform to manage AWS cloud environment for the project. It is pretty complex, largely static, security-focused, and constantly evolving.

Terraform provides descriptive (declarative) way of defining the target configuration, where it can work out the dependencies between configuration elements and apply differences without re-provisioning the entire cloud stack.

Advantages

Terraform is vendor-neutral in a way that it is using a common configuration language (HCL) with plugins (providers) for multiple cloud and service providers.

Terraform keeps track of the previous state of the deployment and applies incremental changes, resulting in faster deployment times.

Terraform allows us to share reusable modules between projects. We have built an impressive library of modules internally, which makes it very easy to assemble a new project from pre-fabricated building blocks.

Disadvantages

Software is imperfect, and Terraform is no exception. Occasionally we hit annoying bugs that we have to work around. The interaction with any underlying APIs is encapsulated inside 3rd party Terraform providers, and any bug fixes or new features require a provider release. Some providers have very poor coverage of the underlying APIs.

Terraform is not great for managing highly dynamic parts of cloud environments. That part is better delegated to other tools or scripts.

Terraform state may go out of sync with the target environment or with the source configuration, which often results in painful reconciliation.

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I personally am not a huge fan of vendor lock in for multiple reasons:

  • I've seen cost saving moves to the cloud end up costing a fortune and trapping companies due to over utilization of cloud specific features.
  • I've seen S3 failures nearly take down half the internet.
  • I've seen companies get stuck in the cloud because they aren't built cloud agnostic.

I choose to use terraform for my cloud provisioning for these reasons:

  • It's cloud agnostic so I can use it no matter where I am.
  • It isn't difficult to use and uses a relatively easy to read language.
  • It tests infrastructure before running it, and enables me to see and keep changes up to date.
  • It runs from the same CLI I do most of my CM work from.
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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

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Pros of Helm
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What is Helm?

Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.

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.
What companies use Helm?
What companies use Terraform?

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What tools integrate with Helm?
What tools integrate with Terraform?

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What are some alternatives to Helm and Terraform?
Rancher
Rancher is an open source container management platform that includes full distributions of Kubernetes, Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm, and makes it simple to operate container clusters on any cloud or infrastructure platform.
Ansible
Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
Kubernetes
Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
Docker
The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application ‚ÄĒ from legacy to what comes next ‚ÄĒ and securely run them anywhere
Docker Compose
With Compose, you define a multi-container application in a single file, then spin your application up in a single command which does everything that needs to be done to get it running.
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