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Terraform

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Terraform vs Vagrant: What are the differences?

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; Vagrant: A tool for building and distributing development environments. Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Terraform can be classified as a tool in the "Infrastructure Build Tools" category, while Vagrant is grouped under "Virtual Machine Management".

Some of the features offered by Terraform are:

  • 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.

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

  • Boxes
  • Up And SSH
  • Synced Folders

"Infrastructure as code" is the top reason why over 80 developers like Terraform, while over 354 developers mention "Development environments" as the leading cause for choosing Vagrant.

Terraform and Vagrant are both open source tools. Vagrant with 18.6K GitHub stars and 3.74K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Terraform with 17.4K GitHub stars and 4.77K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Vagrant has a broader approval, being mentioned in 802 company stacks & 475 developers stacks; compared to Terraform, which is listed in 490 company stacks and 298 developer stacks.

Decisions about Terraform and Vagrant

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 Terraform
Pros of Vagrant
  • 117
    Infrastructure as code
  • 73
    Declarative syntax
  • 44
    Planning
  • 28
    Simple
  • 24
    Parallelism
  • 8
    Well-documented
  • 7
    Cloud agnostic
  • 6
    It's like coding your infrastructure in simple English
  • 5
    Platform agnostic
  • 5
    Immutable infrastructure
  • 4
    Portability
  • 4
    Automation
  • 4
    Automates infrastructure deployments
  • 4
    Extendable
  • 2
    Scales to hundreds of hosts
  • 2
    Lightweight
  • 352
    Development environments
  • 290
    Simple bootstraping
  • 238
    Free
  • 139
    Boxes
  • 130
    Provisioning
  • 84
    Portable
  • 81
    Synced folders
  • 69
    Reproducible
  • 51
    Ssh
  • 44
    Very flexible
  • 5
    Works well, can be replicated easily with other devs
  • 5
    Easy-to-share, easy-to-version dev configuration
  • 3
    Great
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    Quick way to get running
  • 1
    DRY - "Do Not Repeat Yourself"
  • 1
    What is vagrant?
  • 1
    Good documentation
  • 1
    Container Friendly

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Cons of Terraform
Cons of Vagrant
  • 1
    Doesn't have full support to GKE
  • 2
    Can become v complex w prod. provisioner (Salt, etc.)
  • 2
    Multiple VMs quickly eat up disk space
  • 1
    Development environment that kills your battery

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- No public GitHub repository available -

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 is Vagrant?

Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

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Jobs that mention Terraform and Vagrant as a desired skillset
CBRE
United States of America Texas Richardson
Pinterest
San Francisco, CA, US; Seattle, WA, US
Pinterest
San Francisco, CA, US; Palo Alto, CA, US; Seattle, WA, US; New York, NY, US
Pinterest
San Francisco, CA, US; Palo Alto, CA, US; Seattle, WA, US; New York, NY, US
What companies use Terraform?
What companies use Vagrant?
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What are some alternatives to Terraform and Vagrant?
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鈥檚 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.
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.
Cloud Foundry
Cloud Foundry is an open platform as a service (PaaS) that provides a choice of clouds, developer frameworks, and application services. Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy, and scale applications.
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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