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18 Apr
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A Comprehensive Look at Top 16 Terraform Alternatives

Not satisfied with Terraform? Discover Terraform alternative tools that can help you with infrastructure provisioning and management.

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

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What is Terraform?

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What is Terraform? Terraform is an infrastructure as code tool that allows users to define cloud and on-prem resources in human-readable configuration files that can be versioned, reused, and shared. It provides a consistent workflow to provision and manage all infrastructure throughout its lifecycle. 

Terraform can manage both low-level components like compute, storage, and networking resources, as well as high-level components like DNS entries and software as a service features. The tool interacts with cloud platforms and services through their APIs, and with providers, it can work with virtually any platform or service with an accessible API.

The core Terraform workflow consists of three stages

1. Write

You define resources across multiple cloud providers and services, creating a configuration to deploy an application on virtual machines in a Virtual Private Cloud network with security groups and a load balancer, for example

2. Plan

Terraform creates an execution plan describing the infrastructure it will create, update, or destroy based on the existing infrastructure and your configuration.

3. Apply

On approval, Terraform performs the proposed operations in the correct order, respecting any resource dependencies.

Use Cases of Terraform

Multi-Cloud Deployment

Terraform can manage multiple providers, simplifying management and orchestration for large-scale, multi-cloud infrastructures.

Application Infrastructure Deployment

Terraform allows efficient deployment, release, scaling, and monitoring of infrastructure for multi-tier applications, providing a separation of concerns.

Self-Service Clusters

Terraform enables product teams to manage their infrastructure independently using codified standards for deploying and managing services.

Policy Compliance and Management

Sentinel, a policy-as-code framework, can enforce compliance and governance policies automatically before Terraform makes infrastructure changes.

PaaS Application Setup

Terraform can set up the required configurations for PaaS applications, including add-ons and external services, quickly and consistently.

Software Defined Networking

Terraform can interact with SDNs to automatically configure the network according to the needs of the applications running in it, reducing deployment times.

Parallel Environments

Terraform allows for spinning up and decommissioning infrastructure for development, test, QA, and production efficiently.

Software Demos

Terraform can create, provision, and bootstrap demos on various cloud providers to make software trials easy for end users.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

Pros & Cons of Terraform

pros and cons of Terraform Alternatives

Strengths and limitations of Terraform that might prompt the search for alternatives:

Provider Agnostic

Terraform supports an impressive range of Terraform providers, including major cloud providers and many other services, making it a versatile choice for IaC needs.


Terraform promotes the use of Terraform modules, helping you create reusable components that can be shared across your organization.

Version Control Capabilities

Since infrastructure is represented as code, it can be versioned and tracked using conventional version control systems like Git.

Drift in State Management

Terraform must keep track of the current state of your resources. Managing this state file, in a codebase entirely separate from the application code, can be problematic in a large team setting – especially as individuals will often circumvent the process by making changes directly in the cloud provider's console. This often causes "drift", meaning the configuration file does not match reality.

Learning Curve

Terraform uses a proprietary syntax, HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL), for infrastructure configuration. This can be challenging for beginners and comes with a steep learning curve. It requires a lot of experience with each cloud provider's services to ensure proper configuration.

Significant Effort in Environment Setup

Configuration needs to be manually replicated for different environments, which is often time-consuming and error-prone. The scope involved often leads to teams relying on 1:1 duplicates of production for dev and staging environments. This causes expensive over-provisioning of these environments, significantly increasing cloud costs.

Debugging Errors

Debugging and error handling can be complex, especially with large deployments.

Disconnect Between Developers and DevOps

Developers, typically not versed in HCL, are often forced to rely on DevOps to provision resources, often slowing down the development process.

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Comprehensive Comparison of Top 16 Terraform Alternatives

comparison of Terraform Alternatives

1. Zeet

Zeet is a platform that offers CI/CD workflows, RBAC, run concurrency, reporting, and integration with popular CI/CD tools as features that can be used in conjunction with Terraform. It is designed to help optimize cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments, and can be used as an alternative to Terraform Cloud. 

Zeet offers a number of advantages over Terraform Cloud:

  • Ability to avoid vendor lock-in
  • Greater flexibility in terms of integration with other tools
  • More granular control over infrastructure deployments. 

Zeet offers a user-friendly interface and a range of features that are designed to make infrastructure management easier and more efficient. These features include the ability to manage separate state files for the same configurations, dynamic block creation, and the use of functions to abstract complex logic into reusable pieces.

2. Encore

Encore is a modern Terraform alternative, aimed at teams looking for a more developer-centric and cohesive approach to infrastructure management. It works by providing an Infrastructure SDK that lets developers declare infrastructure as part of the application code, in a cloud-agnostic way. This avoids many of the drawbacks of Terraform, by keeping both application code and infrastructure declarations in one code base and one programming language.

3. AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation is an IaC service specifically designed for AWS. It uses YAML or JSON templates to create and manage AWS resources. It is deeply integrated with AWS services and offers reusable code components.

4. Google Cloud Deployment Manager (CDM)

Google Cloud Deployment Manager is an IaC tool specifically for Google Cloud Platform, using YAML-based configuration. It is tailored for GCP, ensuring seamless integration, and offers consistency and structure.

5. Azure Resource Manager

Azure Resource Manager is designed for Microsoft's Azure platform, offering robust management of Azure resources through JSON-based templates.

6. OpenTofu

OpenTofu is an open-source version of Terraform that provides an expanded feature set and enhancements. It retains all the functionalities of Terraform while introducing improvements. It is part of the Linux Foundation with the goal of joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

7. Pulumi

Pulumi allows the use of programming languages for IaC, like TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, Go, C#, Java, and YAML. This enables developers to leverage languages they already know, making it easy to get started with Pulumi.

8. Azure ARM Templates

Azure ARM templates are the Azure-native way to manage infrastructure as code. These templates are inputs to Azure Resource Manager, enabling the creation and management of Azure cloud components.

9. Microsoft Bicep

Microsoft Bicep is an open-source domain-specific language for deploying Azure resources. It works with Azure Resource Manager and is not cloud-agnostic, as it is specific to Azure.


CDKTF is a cloud development kit by HashiCorp that allows developers to use programming languages like Typescript, Python, Java, C#, and Go to develop infrastructure. It leverages Terraform's infrastructure lifecycle management capabilities.


AWS CDK enables developing IaC on AWS using familiar programming languages like Typescript, JavaScript, Go, C#, Python, and Java. It allows for expressing and deploying infrastructure using these languages.

12. Ansible

Ansible is primarily a configuration management tool that offers IaC and infrastructure lifecycle management capabilities. It uses an Ansible playbook that describes the activities to be performed by the Ansible host.

13. Crossplane

Crossplane integrates into a K8s cluster, allowing users to provision and manage cloud infrastructure resources using Kubernetes-style declarative configurations. It provides a consistent API-centric approach to infrastructure management.

14. Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source solution that automates deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. It simplifies container communication and aids container discovery and management within an application.

15. Jenkins

Jenkins is an automation server that builds, tests, and deploys software. It integrates with plugins and tools to orchestrate test automation and CI/CD pipelines for application projects.

16. SaltStack

SaltStack is a Terraform alternative that offers hybrid, on-premises, and cloud infrastructure management. It uses Python to manage configurations and supports running commands remotely. It caters to both agentless and agent-based environments.

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How to Choose the Right Terraform Alternative

person working on Terraform Alternatives

Assessing Your Requirements: Finding the Right Fit for Your Environment

When choosing an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool, it is crucial to assess your requirements accurately. 

  • Identify the cloud provider(s) you need to work with, such as AWS, GCP, or Azure. Different tools have varying levels of integration and support for specific providers. 
  • Evaluate the complexity of your infrastructure. Tools differ in their capabilities, and more complex environments may require more powerful solutions. 
  • Consider your team's skills and preferences. The familiarity with a tool's syntax and concepts can significantly impact productivity and adoption.

Evaluating Tool Capabilities: Ensuring the Tool Aligns with Your Needs

As you evaluate IaC tools, consider various factors. 

  • Evaluate the ease of use of the tool, including learning curve and syntax complexity. Some tools offer a simpler syntax, making them preferable for new teams. 
  • Scalability is another key factor. Ensure that the tool can handle large and complex infrastructures if your project demands it. 
  • Community support is essential too; a thriving community can provide resources and support. Integration capabilities are vital, as you need to ensure the tool works seamlessly with your existing toolchain and third-party services. 
  • Cloud-native support is crucial if you're working with a specific cloud provider. Multi-cloud support is essential for managing infrastructure across multiple providers. 
  • Versioning and collaboration features can be crucial if multiple team members are working on the same codebase.
  • State management capabilities help in understanding and managing changes to infrastructure. 
  • Debugging and testing features are important to catch and fix issues efficiently. 

Making the Decision: Prioritizing and Evaluating Your Options

Based on your needs, determine the most critical factors for your team and project. Prioritize requirements like cloud provider support, ease of use, and scalability. Research and compare tools that align with your prioritized requirements, considering strengths and weaknesses. 

For your top choices, consider running a proof of concept or pilot project to evaluate the tool's fit for your use case. That there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The right tool depends on your specific needs and constraints. Carefully evaluate your requirements and test the tools before making a final decision.

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Zeet is a revolutionary platform designed to help companies maximize their cloud investments by using Terraform Alternatives. With Zeet, your engineering team can easily deploy cloud-based applications in an efficient and seamless manner, thanks to its advanced CI/CD and deployment features. 

By leveraging Zeet, your team can transition from being good developers to becoming top-performing engineering professionals. Contact Zeet today to learn more about how this platform can transform your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments, helping you to achieve unparalleled results.

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