Terraform: what it is and why the OpenTF alternative was born

L’technological infrastructure it has become the pillar upon which business applications and services are built. The rapid evolution of cloud technologies, the growing complexity of networks and the need for scalable resources have led to a new approach to infrastructure management: theInfrastructure as Code (IaC), or infrastructure as code. Terraform is a tool that has earned a prominent place in the IT ecosystem for its ability to provide developers and administrators with the “keys to create, update and remove resources in an automated and repeatable way, using a declarative language.

What Terraform is, how it works and what it is for

With Terraform, you can create and configure resources such as virtual machines, networks, databases, cloud services and more, regardless of the cloud provider used. This results in an agnostic approach to cloudallowing you to switch from one vendor to another without having to rewrite the infrastructure definition from scratch.

The concept behind the IaC approach is just that: infrastructure can be defined as codeallowing you to schedule and manage resources similar to how you manage the source code of an application.

Terraform has proven to be a valuable partner in addressing the challenges of modern infrastructure. By treating the infrastructure as code, you have the ability to benefit from consistencyfrom the repeatability and the level of automation needed to effectively manage IT resources in complex and ever-changing environments.

What can be done with Terraform

The possible application fields of Terraform are practically infinite: the software can be used for the creation of cloud resources. For example, you can use Terraform to set up instances of virtual machines, virtual networks, load balancers and databases. The application is very useful for automatically creating a group of EC2 instances on AWS with the desired configuration.

Similarly, Terraform allows you to prepare and configure virtual networks, subnets, firewalls and other network resources; allows you to manage integers workloadsfor example to define the computing and network resources needed to run a web application. Who uses container Dockercan use Terraform to automate its creation and setup.

You can also create resources such as tables, indexes, and other items needed to manage your data; define security policies, roles, security groups, and other access control aspects.

Using Terraform, you can easily replicate your infrastructure across development environmentsheads production. This ensures that the configurations are consistent and, therefore, perfectly aligned. It is also feasible to build the same infrastructure on different providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

What is Terraform code called for automating infrastructure generation and configuration

Il Terraform code used to automate infrastructure generation and configuration is often called “Terraform configuration” o “Terraform code“. Such code is written in a specific language, called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL), which allows users to define infrastructure resources, configurations, and dependencies declaratively.

Because OpenTF was born, an open alternative

Terraform began as an open source project under the wing of HashiCorp, a software company with a business model freemium and headquartered in San Francisco, California. In August 2023, the company announced plans to change the license of all its main products, including Terraform, moving to Business Source License (BSL).

Target of OpenTF is to ensure that Terraform remains a truly open source product so much so that the promoters of the initiative suggest to HashiCorp to review the choice of recent days and thus avoid fragmentation of the community.

In the event that the appeal falls on deaf ears, OpenTF undertakes to publish a fork of Terraform and to autonomously continue the development of the project without the help of HashiCorp. The community response has been enormous, with dozens of companies and hundreds of developers expressing full support for OpenTF.

The work for the realization of the fork of Terraform is already underway so that within a couple of weeks the repository GitHub should be updated with source code.

The OpenTF project will remain fully in the future compatible with Terraform, including versions that have not yet been released. A “foundation” is called upon to oversee the development of OpenTF which will remain open source, community-driven, impartial, multilayered, modular and backwards compatible.

Opening image credit: iStock.com/Galeanu Mihai


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