Packer vs Terraform

Packer
Packer

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Terraform
Terraform

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245
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Packer vs Terraform: What are the differences?

Developers describe Packer as "Create identical machine images for multiple platforms from a single source configuration". Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images. 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.

Packer and Terraform belong to "Infrastructure Build Tools" category of the tech stack.

Some of the features offered by Packer are:

  • Super fast infrastructure deployment. Packer images allow you to launch completely provisioned and configured machines in seconds, rather than several minutes or hours.
  • Multi-provider portability. Because Packer creates identical images for multiple platforms, you can run production in AWS, staging/QA in a private cloud like OpenStack, and development in desktop virtualization solutions such as VMware or VirtualBox.
  • Improved stability. Packer installs and configures all the software for a machine at the time the image is built. If there are bugs in these scripts, they'll be caught early, rather than several minutes after a machine is launched.

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.

"Cross platform builds" is the primary reason why developers consider Packer over the competitors, whereas "Infrastructure as code" was stated as the key factor in picking Terraform.

Packer and Terraform are both open source tools. It seems that Terraform with 17.4K GitHub stars and 4.77K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Packer with 9.03K GitHub stars and 2.46K GitHub forks.

Instacart, Slack, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Terraform, whereas Packer is used by Instacart, SendGrid, and Oscar Health. Terraform has a broader approval, being mentioned in 489 company stacks & 298 developers stacks; compared to Packer, which is listed in 113 company stacks and 20 developer stacks.

What is Packer?

Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.

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.

Want advice about which of these to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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      What are some alternatives to Packer and Terraform?
      AWS CloudFormation
      You can use AWS CloudFormation’s 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’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work.
      GeoEngineer
      GeoEngineer uses Terraform to plan and execute changes, so the DSL to describe resources is similar to Terraform's. GeoEngineer's DSL also provides programming and object oriented features like inheritance, abstraction, branching and looping.
      Habitat
      Habitat is a new approach to automation that focuses on the application instead of the infrastructure it runs on. With Habitat, the apps you build, deploy, and manage behave consistently in any runtime — metal, VMs, containers, and PaaS. You'll spend less time on the environment and more time building features.
      Atlas
      Atlas is one foundation to manage and provide visibility to your servers, containers, VMs, configuration management, service discovery, and additional operations services.
      Pulumi
      Pulumi is a cloud development platform that makes creating cloud programs easy and productive. Skip the YAML and just write code. Pulumi is multi-language, multi-cloud and fully extensible in both its engine and ecosystem of packages.
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      What tools integrate with Packer?
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      How developers use Packer 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 Bùi Thanh
      Bùi Thanh uses TerraformTerraform
      • Infrastructure as Code.
      • Central tool to deploy all infratructure: AWS, CloudFlare, StatusCake
      Avatar of Bob P
      Bob P uses PackerPacker

      Packer makes it easy to setup custom images to import into vagrant.

      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 Zinc
      Zinc uses PackerPacker

      We use Packer to build our Base AMIs.

      Avatar of Endource
      Endource uses PackerPacker

      Application deployment packages

      Avatar of Go Furuya
      Go Furuya uses PackerPacker

      To make the "Golden Image"

      Avatar of Scott Miller
      Scott Miller uses PackerPacker

      Used for packing AMIs

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