Why Should You Learn HashiCorp Terraform?

Software applications run on top of infrastructure. This includes things like servers, databases, storage, networking, and other infrastructure components.

Imagine you are an employee tasked with setting up a new web server for your company's website. Let’s consider a manual infrastructure provisioning scenario. You would have to configure the server through a GUI (Graphical User Interface) or API (Application Programming Interface). You would also have to set up the operating system and install the necessary software. This process can be time-consuming and error-prone. This is especially true if you have to do it multiple times for different servers or environments.

There are several issues associated with manual infrastructure provisioning:

  • Inefficiency: Manually configuring a large number of servers can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. It's also quite boring. This demotivates employees and decreases their productivity.
  • Inconsistency: It can be difficult to ensure that servers are consistently configured. Some of them might not match the exact intended configuration. This can lead to potential issues with reliability and performance.
  • Lack of collaboration: It can be challenging for multiple team members to work on the same infrastructure configuration. Because there is no easy way to collaborate or share changes.
  • Lack of traceability: It can be difficult to trace who made changes to the infrastructure when it is manually configured. This can lead to problems if changes are not properly documented. Or there is no clear record of changes that have been made. For example, if an issue arises and it is not clear who made a particular change, it can be difficult to troubleshoot the problem. It's just hard to know: what changed, when, why, and who made the change.

The solution?  Automation.

DevOps practices encourage the use of automation tools to deploy and manage infrastructure. Automation reduces the risk of human error. Automation also ensures that infrastructure remains easy to manage and maintain.

There are many tools available for infrastructure automation. In recent years, Terraform has gained significant traction in the DevOps world.

What is Terraform?

Terraform is an infrastructure provisioning tool. It helps us automate the process of creating and managing infrastructure, using configuration files.

Terraform is called an "infrastructure as code" (IaC) tool because it allows you to manage your infrastructure by writing code (configuration files). You don’t have to manually configure resources through a user interface.

With Terraform, you can use a language called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) to define your infrastructure. Then you can use this code to create, modify, and delete your resources. This makes it easier to manage your infrastructure in a consistent and repeatable way.

Want a step-by-step Terraform tutorial for beginners? Check out our video.

Terraform Workflow

In Terraform, we provision infrastructure in 3 main steps: write, plan and apply.

1. Writing: In the writing stage, we define the infrastructure we want, in a Terraform configuration file. Here is an example of a simple Terraform configuration to create an EC2 instance in AWS.

provider "aws" {
	region = "us-east-2"

resource  "aws_instance" "example" {
	ami  = "ami-0d729a60"
	instance_type = "t2.micro"

2. Planning: After writing our Terraform configuration, we use the `terraform plan` command. This command shows us the changes that will be made to our infrastructure. We use this step to verify that the changes are correct before applying them.

3. Applying: The final step in the process is to use the `terraform apply` command. This will create/change the infrastructure to match the desired state defined in the configuration file.

Terraform Architecture

Terraform consists of two essential parts: the core and the providers.


Terraform is powered by an engine called Terraform core. The core is a program that provides all the basic functionality.


Terraform uses providers (plugins) to interact with different infrastructure providers, such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. It's basically a way for Terraform to know how to "speak" to an infrastructure provider. Imagine we want to provision a virtual server on both AWS and Azure. It has to send a particular set of instructions to AWS, and a different set of instructions to Azure. Even if both virtual servers are identical in configuration.

The providers make API requests to infrastructure providers/cloud platforms on our behalf. They also handle time-outs and errors. For example, say we are creating an AWS EC2 instance. If the request times out, the provider will automatically retry the request until it succeeds. Or until a specified number of retries is reached. If the request fails due to an error, the provider will return an error message. We can then use the message to diagnose and fix the issue.

Key Feature of Terraform

Terraform uses a declarative configuration language. In declarative language, you simply write code to describe what you want your infrastructure to look like. You don’t write the specific steps or actions needed to create the infrastructure. Terraform figures out the required steps on its own.

Also, in a declarative approach, the code represents the latest state of our infrastructure. This means, you can simply look at your code and see, for example, what servers are currently deployed and how they are configured.

Why Learn Terraform?

Now you have a broad understanding of Terraform. Next, let’s discuss the top 6 reasons why you should learn Terraform.

1. Infrastructure as Code

Businesses and companies today often have very large infrastructures. Think of hundreds or even thousands of servers. It is almost impossible to manage these manually. Therefore automation tools are essential. If you want to work at a company with a large infrastructure, knowing an automation tool is a must.

Terraform is an infrastructure automation tool. It allows you to manage infrastructure using code and automation, rather than manual configuration. Using Terraform, you can automate the process of creating, updating, and destroying resources. This can save you time and reduce the risk of errors.

Additionally, you can use version control systems such as Git to manage your Terraform configurations. As a result, you can track changes to your infrastructure over time. You can also roll back to previous versions if necessary. Overall, Terraform can help you manage your infrastructure in a more predictable, efficient, and reliable manner.

2. Ease of use

Terraform uses a domain-specific-language (DSL) to manage infrastructure as code. It is called HCL (HashiCorp Configuration Language).

Because DSLs are designed for use in one specific domain, they tend to be smaller and simpler. Moreover, they are concise and easier to learn and understand. You can learn HCL much faster than, say, Golang. So you can get up and running with Terraform within a few hours. Even if you have little or no programming experience.

3. Open source

Terraform is an open-source tool. This means its source code is freely available for anyone to use, modify and distribute. You don’t have any restrictions, and you don’t have to pay any licensing fees.

Another benefit of Terraform’s open-source nature is that you can customize and extend the tool to fit your specific needs. This is a significant advantage over proprietary (private) tools.

Proprietary tools are usually owned and controlled by a single company. And they provide a fixed set of features and capabilities. You don't have access to the source code, so you can't modify it in any way. You can't add features, fix bugs, or extend the software to fit your needs.

Open-source tools also tend to evolve much faster than proprietary ones.

4. Large and active community

Whenever you pick a technology, you are also picking a community. The size and activity of the community determine how easy it is to find help online.

Terraform has a large and active community of users and contributors. They are active on forums and social media, where they offer support and advice to others. This makes it easy to find answers to your questions. You can also access a wealth of resources such as tutorials and blog posts.

Besides the community, Terraform is also supported by HashiCorp, the company behind the tool. It offers a range of training and certification programs to help users learn and master the tool.

You can prepare for the Terraform Associate Certification with our course: Terraform Associate Certification.

5. Multi-cloud Support

Terraform is a cloud-agnostic tool. This means that Terraform is not tied to any specific cloud platform/infrastructure provider.

With Terraform,  you use a set of configuration files to manage infrastructure across different cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. You don’t have to learn and use multiple tools to manage your infrastructure.

This saves you a ton of time and effort. In addition, Terraform allows you to easily migrate your infrastructure from one provider to another. If you decide to switch to a different provider, you simply update your Terraform configuration files to use the new provider’s APIs. Terraform takes care of the rest. So you avoid vendor lock-in while taking advantage of the benefits of different cloud providers.

6. Integration with other tools

In reality, you will likely use multiple tools to build your infrastructure. Terraform integrates well with other tools and services.

For example, you can use Terraform and Ansible together. You might use Terraform to create a set of web servers on a cloud platform. Then you might use Ansible to install and configure web server software such as Apache or Nginx.

You can also use Terraform and Kubernetes together. With Terraform, you can quickly provision all the servers needed by a Kubernetes cluster. Then the Kubernetes software is installed, forming a cluster. Now Terraform can take care of all the underlying infrastructure. For example, you can easily add or remove servers, networks, or other components as needed. Modifying the resources such as adding more RAM to servers is also straightforward. So they complement each other nicely. Terraform automates the infrastructure; Kubernetes automates the deployment of containers.


In conclusion, Terraform is a powerful tool for building and managing large infrastructures quickly and efficiently. It allows you to define your infrastructure as code and manage it in a declarative manner. This makes it easier for multiple people to collaborate on defining infrastructure. It also makes it easier to track changes over time. This way, it is easier to track the change(s) that broke something. Not to mention, it is much faster to undo such a change.

In addition, Terraform is a widely-used and in-demand tool. More and more organizations are adopting infrastructure as code practices. So the demand for professionals with Terraform experience is likely to continue to grow. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the DevOps field, Terraform can be a valuable tool to add to your toolkit.

Moreover, once you learn Terraform, you can use it to explore other areas of infrastructure automation. You can learn other tools from the HashiCorp ecosystem. Or you can pursue certifications to enhance your skills and credentials.

So why wait? Start your Terraform journey today with our Terraform course for beginners. You will gain valuable skills that will potentially open up new job opportunities.