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The CEO’s Guide to Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

According to a recent blog post by VMware, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is transforming the process of data center resource management. Previously, resource management relied on manual interactions through user interfaces and command-line interfaces. With IaC, provisioning and management of cloud-native IT resources are automated—reducing risks, costs, and downtime. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why CEOs should care about IaC and the ways it can help them achieve their business goals more efficiently.

What Is Infrastructure as Code?

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an approach to managing infrastructure that involves defining and provisioning infrastructure resources using code. This approach enables the automation of infrastructure management, making it more efficient and less error prone. IaC has been around since the early days of cloud computing, but it has gained significant traction in recent years due to two major factors:

  1. The rise of cloud-native software development: A key advantage of moving software development and testing to a 100% cloud environment is the flexibility of compute and storage resources. Traditional methods of coding software using just the processor and hard drive of a single developer’s workstation gave way to cloud-based compute and storage resources that scale quickly and easily to the needs of the software and its users.
  2. The open source community: Because much of the technology behind IaC is open source software, there was a large and vibrant community of individuals and vendors extending the capabilities of IaC solutions. Contributions from the open source community not only enhanced the security and stability of IaC, but also helped bring the technology into the mainstream for business IT.

How IaC Works

Simply put, IaC operates on principles borrowed from the continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) methodology of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). With a CI/CD pipeline, developers have an agreed-upon series of steps required before adding code to a piece of software. By storing the code in a centralized repository such as Git and using code that defines the agreed-upon steps in the process, the CI/CD pipeline enables developers to test, secure, and automate the merger of multiple teams’ code changes to the software.

Infrastructure as Code also uses a domain-specific language to define the way your software development environment is structured. Developers can build IaC in a pure cloud-based environment, using on-prem servers, or a hybrid infrastructure with both cloud and on-prem resources. Although we’re talking about ones and zeros in the cloud, it is analogous to physically constructing a building. You have a blueprint (your domain-specific language) of your desired IT setup. When this blueprint is executed using specific tools, your IT infrastructure is set up just as envisioned. Unlike when you make changes to the blueprint of a physical building, changes to an IaC code file doesn’t necessarily incur severe cost overruns related to tearing down and rearchitecting. Every update to this digital blueprint can be tracked so that all stakeholders across the project—including the development, security, and operations teams—have the right resources with the right level of observability at the right time.

Why IaC Makes Business Sense

Let’s delve into the core benefits of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and how our Platform Engineering solution, a managed GitOps platform delivered as a service, is revolutionizing the way businesses operate:

  • Operational Efficiency: Anyone that has worked in a software delivery team will tell you they’re constantly asked to do more with less. The way most teams decide to solve the productivity problem is to find ways of working more efficiently by reducing re-work and interruptions. Prior to IaC and enabling solutions, infrastructure configuration, deployment, and consistency were a major problem for delivery. Blue Mantis partnered with Nethopper to automate IaC so that delivery teams will see a massive uptick in productivity due to time back from not having to chase the problems that cause waste in debugging infrastructure.
  • Financial Prudence: With automation, businesses can reduce the overhead costs associated with manual infrastructure management. With IaC, you’re using resources optimally, ensuring you get the best bang for your buck. In addition, IaC provides deep visibility into your resources, guaranteeing you always know exactly where you stand with your infrastructure (and costs).
  • Security Assurance: If you’ve ever been responsible for implementing a shared secret in a technology solution, you are aware of the challenges to ensure its security. Some of the typical questions you’ll face are:
    • What type of secret or configuration data is needed?
    • Who has access to it?
    • How is it accessed?
    • How/where is it stored?
    • Does it have a lifecycle?

Typically, what you will find is something we refer to as “sprawl,” the gradual accumulation of configuration and secret data across a complex environment. Some IT leaders almost expect the sprawl now—it’s a very real problem and CEOs should understand that managing the sprawl is a huge time commitment for your IT organization. Blue Mantis partnered with CloudTruth to address the sprawl, enabling a single pane of glass view in Platform Engineering for managing configuration and secrets. So, whether your IaC is on-prem, hybrid, or cloud, Platform Engineering helps control the sprawl.

Real-world Infrastructure as Code Success Stories

Several top-tier companies have reaped the benefits of IaC. For example:

  • Barclays: This global bank adopted IaC, resulting in faster IT deployments and a more agile response to market changes.
  • General Electric: GE’s IT team used IaC to manage its vast cloud infrastructure, leading to improved operational efficiency and reduced costs.
  • Walmart: With IaC, Walmart can scale its e-commerce operations seamlessly, especially during high-demand periods like Black Friday.

Potential Hurdles (and How to Overcome Them)

Organizations considering using IaC must contend with these obstacles:

HurdleHow to Overcome
Skillset ShiftIaC requires a new set of skills. But with the right training or hiring, this hurdle can be easily crossed.
The Risk of ErrorsAs with any process, there’s room for error. However, with automated checks and balances, these risks can be minimized.
Embracing ChangeAdopting IaC might mean tweaking your current workflows. But as with any strategic move, the initial effort pays off in long-term gains.

Conclusion

Infrastructure as Code is more than just an IT strategy; it’s a business enabler. It promises operational efficiency, cost savings, and robust security. While there might be challenges on the path to adoption, the business benefits are too significant to overlook. For CEOs looking to future-proof their operations and gain a competitive edge, IaC is a worthy consideration.

Do you have a software development team in your business? Blue Mantis is here to help. Our Platform Engineering solution can automate and secure your IaC, making the transition smoother and more efficient. Contact us today to learn how we can help you harness the power of IaC and keep your business at the forefront of technological innovation.

Jeff Cratty

Sr. Director of Advanced Technologies, Blue Mantis Panelist

Jeff has over 20 years’ experience in technology roles across software development, SaaS, and Cloud. At BlueMantis, Jeff is responsible for providing solutions that keep our clients ahead of the technology curve through modernization. Previously, Jeff served in Engineering leadership roles at SS&C, Abacus Insights, Veracode, and RSA.