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15 Apr
min read

Scalr vs Terraform: A Detailed Comparison of Top IaC Solutions

Scalr vs Terraform, which IaC tool is right for you? Dive into this comparison to find out which solution fits your infrastructure management needs.

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

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Overview of Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

discussion on basics of Scalr vs Terraform

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is the ability to provision and support your computing infrastructure using code instead of manual processes and settings. Any application environment requires many infrastructure components like operating systems, database connections, and storage. Developers have to regularly set up, update, and maintain the infrastructure to develop, test, and deploy applications.  Understanding what is Tarraform is the key here.

Manual infrastructure management is time-consuming and prone to error-especially when you manage applications at scale

Infrastructure as code lets you define your infrastructure's desired state without including all the steps to get to that state. It automates infrastructure management so developers can focus on building and improving applications instead of managing environments. Organizations use infrastructure as code to control costs, reduce risks, and respond with speed to new business opportunities.

What are the benefits of infrastructure as code?

Automation is a key goal across any computing environment. Infrastructure as code (IaC) is used for infrastructure automation to create environments. The most common use of IaC is in software development to build, test, and deploy applications.

Traditionally, system administrators used a combination of scripts and manual processes to set up infrastructure environments. The process was complex and time-consuming. Today, you can use IaC to automatically set up your environment within minutes and manage it more efficiently.

Why choose the right IaC tools? 

  • Some IaC tools are easier to use than others, especially for teams with limited infrastructure automation experience
  • Different IaC tools have different levels of flexibility, which can impact their suitability for specific use cases.
  • The level of community support for an IaC tool can impact the availability of resources such as tutorials, support forums, and external wrappers and tools
  • The ability to integrate an IaC tool with other tools can streamline the deployment process and improve efficiency. 
  • Different IaC tools provide different levels of abstraction, which can impact the ease of defining infrastructure resources.

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Exploring Terraform

exploring tarraform - Scalr vs Terraform

What is Terraform? Terraform is a popular choice in infrastructure as code due to its powerful features that make it a standout tool. One of the key features that makes Terraform a preferred choice in IaC is its ability to manage any infrastructure efficiently. Terraform allows you to define both cloud and on-prem resources in human-readable configuration files that you can version, reuse, and share. 

Terraform’s immutable approach to infrastructure reduces the complexity of upgrading or modifying services and infrastructure, allowing for smoother changes and upgrades. The ability to track your infrastructure with Terraform is another key feature, as it generates a plan and prompts you for approval before making any changes to your infrastructure.terraform helps efficiently track all changes and modifications to your infrastructure, giving you a clear overview of your environment.

The Inner Workings of Terraform

Terraform operates by creating and managing resources on cloud platforms and other services through their APIs. The core Terraform workflow involves three stages: write, plan, and apply. Firstly, you define resources across multiple cloud providers and services in configuration files, specifying the end state of your infrastructure. Next, Terraform creates an execution plan based on your configuration and existing infrastructure, detailing the operations it will carry out. 

Once approved, Terraform executes the proposed operations in the right order, ensuring that resource dependencies are respected and managed efficiently. This approach allows Terraform to provision resources in parallel, ultimately saving time and effort in the deployment process. In essence, Terraform handles the underlying logic of creating and modifying resources, improving efficiency and reliability in managing infrastructure. 

The Benefits of Terraform

Terraform offers a host of benefits, making it a powerful tool for infrastructure as code operations. 

  • One of the standout benefits of Terraform is its ability to automate changes through declarative configuration files. This means you can describe the end state of your infrastructure without writing step-by-step instructions, reducing the time and effort needed to create resources. 
  • Terraform supports reusable configuration components known as modules, which define configurable collections of infrastructure. By leveraging modules, teams can save time, encourage best practices, and maintain standard configurations across projects. 
  • Terraform allows for collaboration by enabling teams to commit configurations to a Version Control System (VCS) and use Terraform Cloud for efficient workflow management. Teams can work together seamlessly, ensuring that configuration changes are tracked and managed effectively. 

By standardizing configurations and automating changes, Terraform streamlines infrastructure management and encourages teams to work closely together. 

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Zeet helps you to get more from your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments and helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors through our CI/CD & deployment platform. 

Contact Zeet to learn more about how Zeet helps you get seamless cloud deployments every time, and helps your team to become a top-performing engineering team.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

Understanding Scalr

person understanding Scalr vs Terraform

Scalr is a robust remote operations backend designed to enhance Terraform and OpenTofu (OTF) by executing runs and centrally storing state. The platform facilitates seamless collaboration across organizations by offering a variety of workflows and integration capabilities. 

What sets Scalr apart in the realm of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools is its ability to centralize administration while decentralizing operations, offering organizations a powerful solution to manage their cloud infrastructure effectively.

Enhancing Terraform Integration

Scalr greatly enhances the integration of Terraform by providing an advanced control plane for managing Terraform runs centrally. By leveraging Scalr, organizations can streamline their operations, standardize their deployment workflows, and enforce best practices consistently across teams. With Scalr, users can continue to utilize native Terraform and OpenTofu CLIs or adopt a GitOps workflow to automate infrastructure provisioning.

Granular Control and Flexibility

One of the standout features of Scalr is its unique organizational model, which allows for the creation of isolated environments per team and the inheritance and assignment of objects like variables, credentials, and Open Policy Agent (OPA) policies. This model fosters granular control and flexibility, enabling organizations to scale effectively as they grow.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Scalr offers seamless integration with various tools, including Version Control System (VCS) providers, Open Policy Agent, Datadog, Okta, and Slack. This extensive integration capability allows organizations to incorporate Scalr into their existing toolchain, enhancing their operational efficiency and enabling cross-functional collaboration.

Clear Onboarding Process and Standardization

For organizations looking to get started with Scalr, the platform offers a clear onboarding process that includes creating a run, setting up a workspace, and implementing RBAC for user types. As organizations progress, they can standardize their deployments by creating standards, scaling them through the Scalr provider, and utilizing reports to identify outliers and enforce compliance.

Advanced Features for Scalable Infrastructure Management

At scale, organizations can leverage Scalr's advanced features such as run dashboards, Datadog integration, Slack notifications, and agent execution to ensure smooth Terraform operations and proactive incident response. By adopting Scalr, organizations can streamline their IaC workflows, enhance collaboration, and achieve greater operational efficiency in managing their cloud infrastructure.

Terraform vs. Scalr: A Detailed Comparison

man showing lead dev Scalr vs Terraform

Architectures and Functionalities: A Deep Dive into Terraform and Scalr

Terraform is a popular Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool known for its ability to automate the creation, management, and updating of various infrastructure resources, while Scalr functions as an IaC orchestration platform designed to scale the management of Terraform deployments. 

Terraform enables users to codify technology infrastructure in a scriptable manner that can be easily automated and managed. On the other hand, Scalr offers features such as cost estimation, policy enforcement, workspace management, and multi-tenancy that assist enterprises in effectively managing their Terraform deployments.

User Interface and Usability Insights: Navigating Terraform and Scalr

The user interface of Terraform revolves around a high-level configuration syntax that allows users to describe infrastructure as code. This feature enables users to version and manage their data center as they would with any other code, making it easily shareable and reusable. 

Efficient Infrastructure Management

Terraform also provides a "planning" step that generates an execution plan showing all actions that will be executed when the apply command is run. This feature helps users avoid surprises when Terraform manipulates infrastructure. Terraform builds a resource graph of all resources, enabling parallel creation and modification of non-dependent resources for efficient infrastructure management.

Governance and Scalability for Terraform Deployments

In contrast, Scalr's user interface focuses on managing, scaling, and adding governance to Terraform deployments within larger organizations. It offers features such as MySQL replication, scalable app servers, and scalable databases. These features enable Scalr users to handle complex workflows, compliance, and cost management effectively.

Performance and Scalability: Evaluating Terraform and Scalr's Capabilities

Terraform excels at automating the deployment of infrastructure resources, making it an efficient tool for managing infrastructure at scale. Its resource graph effectively parallelizes the creation and modification of non-dependent resources, optimizing infrastructure management and providing insights into infrastructure dependencies. Scalr, on the other hand, is ideal for managing Terraform at scale, especially in larger enterprise environments that require robust management layers for complex workflows, compliance, and cost management.

Terraform focuses on scripting and automating the deployment of infrastructure resources, while Scalr offers a management layer to scale and govern Terraform deployments effectively. By understanding the differences in their architectures, functionalities, user interfaces, usability insights, performance, and scalability, users can choose the tool that best aligns with their infrastructure management needs.

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Use Cases for Terraform and Scalr

use cases of Scalr vs Terraform

Key Terraform Use Cases

Multi-Cloud Deployment

Terraform's versatility shines when deploying applications across multiple cloud providers, streamlining the process by utilizing a single tool with a consistent syntax for managing resources in AWS, GCP, Azure, and more.

Microservices Infrastructure

Terraform excels in managing the infrastructure demands of a microservices architecture. It can efficiently provision resources for each individual service, helping to streamline and automate the deployment process.

Managing Diverse Cloud Resources

Not limited to server management only, Terraform can handle various cloud resources efficiently. From databases to DNS entries, it provides a comprehensive solution for managing diverse resources offered by cloud providers.

The Upside of Using Terraform

1. Provider Agnostic

Terraform boasts an extensive range of providers, including leading cloud providers and other services, making it an ideal choice for Infrastructure as Code needs. Its adaptability across different platforms ensures a versatile approach to managing resources.

2. Modularity

Terraform promotes the creation and use of reusable components known as modules. By implementing modules, users can develop versatile and shareable components across their organization, fostering a modular and efficient approach to infrastructure management.

3. Version Control Capabilities

With infrastructure represented as code, Terraform allows users to version and track infrastructure configurations using conventional version control systems like Git, providing a structured approach to infrastructure management.

Key Scalr Use Cases

Centralizing administration while decentralizing operations

Scalr allows platform teams to manage the overall infrastructure as code strategy, enabling developers or application teams to focus on coding and execution, rather than platform or process management.

Implementing flexible workflows

Scalr supports various workflows, including native Terraform or OpenTofu CLI, VCS/PR automation, or No Code deployments, offering teams the flexibility to select workflows best suited to their requirements.

Creating and sharing isolated environments per team

Scalr's unique organizational model enables the creation of isolated environments per team, with inheritance and assignment options for objects like variables, credentials, and OPA policies, providing a structured and secure environment for different teams.

Deploying workspaces directly from the registry

The Scalr module registry serves as more than just a library of modules. It simplifies the deployment process by allowing teams to deploy workspaces directly from the registry, streamlining and enhancing the deployment process.

Related Reading

Integrating Scalr and Terraform

development team understanding Scalr vs Terraform

Scalr is a platform designed to simplify and streamline Terraform-based infrastructure management. It offers features like hierarchical environment management, policy enforcement, and cost controls that help teams collaborate and maintain control over their infrastructure.

Hierarchical Environment Management

Scalr provides a multi-tiered environment management approach that allows for separation of concerns at different levels within an organization. It supports a hierarchy of environments, ensuring that infrastructure changes are consistent, organized, and adhere to the organization's best practices.

Policy Enforcement

Scalr introduces policy-as-code enforcement to Terraform workflows. Teams can define custom policies using the Scalr Policy Engine, enabling them to maintain compliance and control over their infrastructure. The Policy Engine ensures that infrastructure changes adhere to the organization's established standards and practices.

Cost Controls

Managing costs in cloud infrastructure can be challenging. Scalr provides cost estimation and budget controls, giving teams valuable insights into their infrastructure costs and the ability to set budget limits for each environment or workspace.

Integration with CI/CD Pipelines

Scalr easily integrates with popular CI/CD pipelines like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, automating the process of infrastructure deployments and ensuring that every change is reviewed and tested.

Versioning and Rollbacks

Scalr maintains a history of all infrastructure changes, making it easy to roll back to previous versions in case of errors or issues. This feature enhances the overall reliability and maintainability of the infrastructure.

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With Zeet, your team will have access to the necessary resources to become a top-performing engineering team, capable of tackling any challenge that comes their way. Contact Zeet to learn more about how we can help you reach new heights with your cloud deployments and empower your engineering team with the tools they need to succeed. 

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