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An Ultimate Guide for infrastructure Management with Terraform


Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code (IAC) tool which allows users to define and provision infrastructure resources using a high-level configuration language. It is often used to provision and manage resources on cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as on-premises and other environments. 

Infrastructure as code (IAC) is a method of provisioning and managing infrastructure resources through code and automation rather than manually configuring resources through a web interface or other manual means. 

With Terraform, users can create templates, known as “configurations,” that describe the desired state of their infrastructure. These configurations include virtual machines, load balancers, databases, and more. Terraform then compares the current state of the infrastructure with the desired state described in the configuration and makes the necessary changes to align the infrastructure. 

One of the key features of Terraform is its ability to provision resources across multiple providers. This allows users to manage their entire infrastructure using a single tool and configuration language, regardless of location. Additionally, terraform supports various resource types and providers, making it a versatile choice for managing infrastructure. 

Another advantage of using Terraform is that it keeps track of the resources created and can update or delete them as necessary. 

Terraform can also help to ensure consistency and repeatability in infrastructure deployments, as well as version-controlled infrastructure changes and rollback. 

Terraform installation

Terraform can be installed on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. The installation typically involves downloading the appropriate binary for your operating system and placing it in a directory in your system’s PATH. 

Here are the general steps to install Terraform on a Linux or macOS system: 

  1. Download the appropriate binary for your operating system from the Terraform website ( 
  2. Unzip the downloaded file, and move the terraform binary to a directory in your system’s PATH. For example, you can move the binary to /usr/local/bin on Linux or macOS. 
  3. Verify that the installation was successful by opening a new terminal window and running the command terraform -v. This should display the version of Terraform that you have installed. 

For Windows, you can download the binary and place it in a directory in your system’s PATH or install chocolatey package manager. 

Here is an example of how to install Terraform using Chocolatey package manager on windows: 

  • Open PowerShell as an administrator. 
  • Run the command choco install terraform 

After the installation, you can verify it by running terraform -v command on the command prompt. 

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Terraform commands

Terraform is a command-line tool, and the primary way to interact with it is through various commands. Here are some of the most common Terraform commands that you may use: 

  1. init: This command initializes a Terraform directory in which we write our configuration files. It is typically run the first time you use Terraform in a new working directory, and it sets up the necessary files and data for Terraform to function. 
  2. plan: This command shows us an execution plan, like a blueprint of all the resources that will be created. It is used to preview the changes Terraform will make to your infrastructure before making those changes. 
  3. apply: This command is used to apply the changes previewed with the plan command. It will create or update the infrastructure according to the configuration files. 
  4. destroy: This command is used to destroy the infrastructure created with Terraform. It will delete all resources defined in the configuration files. 
  5. state: This command is used to manage the Terraform state. It can be used to list, show, or change the state. 
  6. import: This command is used to import existing infrastructure resources into Terraform. It allows you to take resources you created manually or by other means and manage them with Terraform. 
  7. fmt: This command is used to format the terraform files and make them look consistent 
  8. validate: This command is used to validate the syntax of terraform files 
  9. output: This command is used to display the output variables defined in the terraform files 

These are some of the most common Terraform commands, but many others are available for more advanced use cases. You can view a complete list of commands and their usage by running the terraform command without arguments. 

Example: Creating an EC2 instance with Terraform 

  1. Install and configure Terraform on your system, including setting up valid AWS credentials. 
  2. Create a new directory for your Terraform project and navigate to it. 
  3. Create a file named in the project directory. This file will contain the Terraform configuration for creating the EC2 instance. 
  4. Add the AWS provider configuration to the file. This is where you specify the region and other settings for the AWS provider. 
  5. Define the EC2 instance resource in the file. This is where you specify the properties of the EC2 instance, such as the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) ID and instance type.
  6. You may also want to set up a security group and key pair to connect to the created EC2 instance. This can be done by creating another resource block for the aws_security_group and aws_key_pair.
  7. Initialize the Terraform working directory by running the command terraform init. This command will download the necessary provider plugins. 
  8. Create an execution plan by running the command terraform plan. This command will preview Terraform’s changes to create the EC2 instance. 
  9. Apply the changes by running the command terraform apply. This command will create the EC2 instance and other resources defined in the configuration file. 
  10. Verify that the EC2 instance was created correctly using the AWS Management Console or the AWS CLI. 

Terraform state file

The Terraform state file is a critical component of the Terraform workflow. It is a JSON file that contains information about the infrastructure that Terraform is managing, including the current state of the resources, metadata, and other information. Terraform uses the state file to determine the current state of the infrastructure, and it is updated every time Terraform makes changes to the infrastructure. 

The state file is stored locally on the system where Terraform runs. By default, terraform will create a state file named “terraform.tfstate” in the current working directory, but the file’s location can be changed using the -state-out command-line option or the state configuration block. 

The state file is important because it allows Terraform to understand the current state of the infrastructure and to make decisions about what changes need to be made to align the infrastructure with the desired state defined in the Terraform configuration files. 

It is important to remember that the state file should be kept in version control and shared among team members; this can be done by keeping it in a remote state file on a service like S3 or Azure Blob Storage. This allows multiple team members to access the state file and make changes to the infrastructure. 

Terraform also supports state locking, which prevents multiple users from making changes to the state file simultaneously. This is done using a state lock backend, such as DynamoDB, Consul, etc. 

It’s important to note that if the state file is lost or corrupted, it can cause Terraform to make incorrect decisions about the state of the infrastructure, potentially leading to data loss or other issues. Therefore, it’s important to keep a backup of the state file and to be careful when making changes to the infrastructure. 

Terraform modules

Terraform modules are a way to organize, and reuse Terraform code. A module is a collection of Terraform files organized together to create a reusable infrastructure package. Modules can be used to encapsulate infrastructure across multiple projects or organize the infrastructure within a single project into reusable components. 

A module can contain Terraform code for multiple resources, input variables, output variables, and even other modules. The module can be called and used by other Terraform configurations, allowing to share and reuse of the code across different parts of the infrastructure. 

Modules can be created and stored locally on the filesystem, or they can be stored in a remote repository such as the Terraform Registry, GitHub, or another Git repository. 

Here is an example of how to use a module in a Terraform configuration file:

In this example, the module block is calling a module named “example” from a local directory called “mymodule”, and passing in two input variables, “var1” and “var2”. 

You can also use modules from remote sources. You need to provide the source URL instead of a local path.

In this example, we use a module from the Terraform Registry, specifically the VPC module from the terraform-aws-modules organization. This module requires a version and some input variables to work correctly. 

Modules make it easy to reuse code and manage the infrastructure in a more organized way. They can help to make the infrastructure more consistent, maintainable, and easy to understand, especially for large and complex infrastructures. 

Terraform Cloud

Terraform cloud is a commercial service offered by HashiCorp, the company behind Terraform, that aims to make collaborating and managing Terraform-managed infrastructure easier. It provides a web-based user interface and API that can be used to manage Terraform runs, state, and more, without the need to set up and maintain a separate infrastructure. 

Here are some of the key features of Terraform Cloud: 

  1. Remote State Management: Terraform Cloud can store and manage Terraform state remotely, eliminating the need to keep state files in version control. This allows multiple team members to access the state file and make changes to the infrastructure. 
  2. Collaboration: Terraform Cloud allows multiple team members to collaborate on infrastructure changes, with built-in permission controls and audit logs to track who made changes and when. 
  3. Runs: Terraform Cloud can manage Terraform runs, including scheduling runs, viewing logs, and rolling back changes. 
  4. Sentinel: Terraform Cloud includes built-in support for Sentinel, HashiCorp’s policy as code framework, which allows you to implement governance policies for your infrastructure, such as ensuring certain resources meet compliance standards. 
  5. VCS integration: Terraform Cloud can be integrated with version control systems like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket to automatically trigger Terraform runs when changes are made to the infrastructure code. 
  6. Private module registry: Terraform Cloud includes a private module registry that allows teams to share and manage their own modules internally and use modules from public registries. 
  7. API and CLI support: Terraform Cloud provides APIs and command-line interfaces (CLIs) to automate and integrate with other tools and processes. 

Terraform Cloud is a paid service that offers a free version for small teams and personal use. It can be useful for teams that want to collaborate on Terraform-managed infrastructure, automate workflows, and ensure compliance standards. 

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1. What is Terraform?

ANS: – Terraform is an open-source IaC(infrastructure as code) tool that lets you provision and manages cloud and on-premises infrastructure resources. 

2. What does Terraform do?

ANS: – Terraform allows you to define your infrastructure resources in code, manage and version these definitions, and automatically create, update, and delete those resources. 

3. Which cloud platforms does Terraform support?

ANS: – Terraform supports various cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and more.

4. Is Terraform a programming language?

ANS: – No, terraform has its configuration language called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL). HCL is used to define infrastructure resources and their relationships. 

5. How does Terraform differ from other infrastructures as code tools?

ANS: – Terraform is a popular choice for infrastructure as code due to its wide support for multiple cloud platforms, its ability to manage resources across multiple cloud providers, and its focus on infrastructure management rather than just server configuration management. 

6. How does Terraform handle changes to infrastructure resources?

ANS: – Terraform provides a way to preview changes to infrastructure resources before they are applied. It can automatically calculate the changes needed to bring the infrastructure to the desired state. 

7. Is Terraform secure?

ANS: – Terraform takes security seriously and follows industry best practices for secure infrastructure management. Terraform also integrates with various security tools and platforms for secure infrastructure provisioning and management. 

WRITTEN BY Sruti Samatkar



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