First time at Zeet?

26 Mar
min read

Mastering Terraform Automation: Tools, Techniques, and Best Practices for 2024

Take the guesswork out of Terraform automation. From tools to techniques, this resource has everything you need to master Terraform in 2024.

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

Share this article

Are you looking to streamline your infrastructure provisioning? If so, Terraform automation is the solution you need. Our Terraform automation blog is your go-to resource for understanding what is terraform, the ins and outs of this tool, exploring its benefits, and mastering its applications. Dive in to discover the key features that make Terraform automation such a valuable addition to your tech stack. Keep reading to get the insights you need!

What is Terraform Automation?

interconnected code blocks - Terraform Automation

Terraform is a popular Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool that simplifies the management of cloud resources and other infrastructure configurations. It enables the versioning and reproducibility of infrastructure, making it easier to manage and automate infrastructure resources efficiently. Terraform allows engineers to define the desired end state of infrastructure in a human-readable configuration language, promoting predictability and consistency in deployments.

Benefits of Using Terraform for Infrastructure Automation in 2024

Declarative Configuration

Terraform allows engineers to define the desired end state of infrastructure in a human-readable configuration language, promoting predictability and consistency in deployments

Multi-Cloud Support

Terraform can manage a wide range of cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and more, enabling consistency across multi-cloud environments and facilitating seamless migration and scalability. 

Efficient State Management

Terraform's state management feature keeps track of infrastructure changes, allowing for efficient updates and modifications without manual tracking, reducing the risk of configuration drift and errors

Reusable Infrastructure Components

Terraform modules enable the reuse of code, promoting consistency, reducing duplication, and ensuring best practices in infrastructure configuration

No Agent Installation Required

Unlike many other automation tools, Terraform does not require agent software to be installed on managed infrastructure, simplifying installation and usage

Community Support

Terraform has a growing and active community of users, providing access to integrations, extensions, online help, and professional forums like StackOverflow, enhancing the overall experience of using the tool

Scalability and Version Control

Terraform allows for scalable infrastructure management, versioning, collaboration, and automated testing through tools like Git, promoting efficiency and reliability in deployment processes.

Transforming Engineering Teams with Zeet's CI/CD & Deployment Platform

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 help you get seamless cloud deployments every time, and helps your team to become a top-performing engineering team.

How to Create A Terraform Automation Workflow

Steps in Creating a Terraform Automation Process:

  • Configuration File Creation
  • Initialization
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Verification And Monitoring

Related Reading

28 Popular Terraform Automation Tools in 2024

softwares for Terraform Automation

1. Zeet: Advantages of using Zeet

Zeet helps you get more from your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments by offering a CI/CD & deployment platform that ensures seamless cloud deployments every time. Zeet assists your engineering team in becoming strong individual contributors by streamlining the deployment process.

2. Terragrunt: Simplify Terraform Management with Terragrunt

Terragrunt streamlines the management of multiple Terraform configurations and modules by providing essential features like remote state management, locking, and dependency management. This tool enhances productivity by simplifying complicated configuration setups.

3. tfmigrate: Efficient Terraform State Migration with tfmigrate

tfmigrate is a state migration tool that enables efficient planning, applying, and listing of migrations, making it a crucial tool for managing state migration operations. By automating state migration processes, tfmigrate enhances productivity and reduces manual errors.

4. tfautomv: Automate Terraform Module Versioning with tfautomv

tfautomv automates Terraform module versioning and management, ensuring that Terraform configurations are always up-to-date with the latest module versions. By automating module versioning, tfautomv saves time and effort and ensures that configurations are optimized.

5. tftree: Visualize Terraform Resources with tftree

tftree helps visualize the relationships between Terraform resources and their dependencies, making it easier to understand and manage complex infrastructure configurations. This visualization tool enhances productivity by providing clear insights into resource dependencies.

6. Spacelift: Enhance Collaboration with Spacelift

Spacelift is a Terraform automation and collaboration software that offers features like access controls, private modules, and shared configurations to enhance collaboration and governance in Terraform projects. By streamlining collaboration processes, Spacelift boosts productivity and ensures project scalability.

7. Atlantis: Automate Pull Request Workflow with Atlantis

Atlantis is a self-hosted Terraform pull request automation tool that integrates with popular code hosting platforms like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket. This tool enables automated testing, validation, and deployment of Terraform changes through a collaborative pull request workflow, enhancing productivity and scalability.

8. tfenv: Manage Terraform Versions with tfenv

tfenv is a version manager for Terraform that allows users to easily switch between different versions of Terraform to ensure consistent behavior across projects and environments. This tool enhances productivity by simplifying the management of multiple Terraform versions.

9. Terratest: Validate Infrastructure Changes with Terratest

Terratest is a testing framework for Terraform that allows for automated tests for infrastructure code, including unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests. By validating infrastructure changes, Terratest improves the reliability and efficiency of infrastructure deployments.

10. Terraform Validator: Enforce Best Practices with Terraform Validator

Terraform Validator performs static analysis on Terraform configurations to detect potential issues and enforce best practices, improving the quality of Terraform code and preventing common mistakes. This tool enhances productivity by ensuring code quality and adherence to best practices.

11. Terrascan: Ensure Security Compliance with Terrascan

Terrascan is a static code analyzer for Terraform that scans Terraform code for security and compliance issues, ensuring that infrastructure deployments adhere to security and compliance standards. By identifying security vulnerabilities, Terrascan enhances productivity by proactively addressing potential issues.

12. TFLint: Identify Errors with TFLint

TFLint is a static code analysis tool for Terraform that focuses on identifying errors, best practices, and common pitfalls in Terraform configurations. By highlighting potential issues, TFLint improves the reliability and maintainability of Terraform code.

13. tfmask: Enhance Security with tfmask

tfmask is a command-line tool that helps obfuscate sensitive information in Terraform configurations, enhancing security by replacing sensitive values with masked placeholders. By protecting sensitive data, tfmask ensures the security of Terraform configurations.

14. Terraform Registry: Discover Ready-to-Use Modules on Terraform Registry

The Terraform Registry is a repository of publicly available Terraform modules, providers, and extensions that provide a centralized location to discover and reuse community-contributed modules. By leveraging existing infrastructure code, developers can accelerate project development and enhance productivity.

15. Driftctl: Detect Resource Drift with Driftctl

Driftctl allows you to detect resources that have drifted from your desired state, including both managed and unmanaged resources. By identifying drifted resources, Driftctl helps maintain the integrity and compliance of infrastructure configurations.

16. Pike: Generate IAM Permissions with Pike

Pike analyzes the resources you wish to create using Terraform and generates the necessary IAM permissions required to complete the deployment. By automating IAM permission generation, Pike enhances security and ensures smooth deployment processes.

17. Terraform Docs: Simplify Documentation with Terraform Docs

Terraform Docs simplifies the process of creating documentation that shows exactly what users need to know. By automatically generating documentation sections, Terraform Docs improves the readability and accessibility of Terraform configurations.

18. TFSwitch: Manage Terraform Versions with TFSwitch

TFSwitch is a utility that helps manage multiple Terraform versions, allowing users to switch between available versions. By simplifying Terraform version management, TFSwitch ensures consistency and compatibility across projects.

19. Terramate: Optimize Large Terraform Deployments with Terramate

Terramate helps manage large Terraform deployments by breaking code into “stacks” with separate states. By deploying code with a smaller blast radius, Terramate reduces the impact of changes and improves deployment efficiency.

20. Terraform Cloud: Streamline Deployments with Terraform Cloud

Terraform Cloud is part of the HashiCorp Cloud Platform that manages Terraform deployments triggered by commits to VCS. By automating deployment processes, Terraform Cloud enhances collaboration and productivity.

21. Terraform Console: Test Expressions with Terraform Console

The Terraform console command provides an interactive console to test and evaluate Terraform expressions. By offering a testing environment, Terraform Console improves code accuracy and efficiency.

22. PyCharm: Enhance Development with PyCharm

PyCharm, an IDE developed by JetBrains, offers plugins for Terraform development, including code auto-completion and syntax highlighting. By providing development tools, PyCharm improves coding efficiency and accuracy.

23. Checkov: Identify Issues with Checkov

Checkov is a Python policy-as-code framework that focuses on identifying errors in Terraform configurations. By enforcing best practices and identifying potential issues, Checkov ensures code quality and adherence to standards.

24. Checkmarx Kics: Find Vulnerabilities with Checkmarx Kics

Checkmarx Kics helps find vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and infrastructure misconfigurations early in the development cycle. By proactively identifying issues, Checkmarx Kics enhances security and ensures compliance with industry standards.

25. Snyk: Secure Infrastructure with Snyk

Snyk is a security platform that helps find and fix vulnerabilities in infrastructure as code, including Terraform. By identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities, Snyk enhances the security and reliability of infrastructure deployments.

26. Open Policy Agent (OPA): Enforce Policies with Open Policy Agent

OPA enforces security and compliance policies across cloud-native environments, improving policy enforcement and governance. By ensuring consistent policy enforcement, OPA enhances security and compliance in complex environments.

27. Infracost: Estimate Costs with Infracost

Infracost is a cost estimation tool that generates cost estimates for Terraform projects, aiding in budget planning and cost optimization. By providing cost estimates, Infracost helps manage expenses and optimize resource allocation.

28. Blast Radius: Visualize Dependencies with Blast Radius

Blast Radius offers interactive visualizations of Terraform dependency graphs, enhancing understanding and communication of infrastructure architecture. By visualizing dependencies, Blast Radius helps communicate potential impacts of changes in Terraform infrastructure.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

What are the Basic Terraform CLI and Commands?

ubunutu cli for Terraform Automation

Terraform init

When starting a new project, use Terraform init to initialize the working directory. This command configures the directory for module and configuration usage. It ensures essential plugins are downloaded and initialized. With this, the project is ready for further configuration and deployment.

Terraform validate

Using Terraform validate, check the validity of the Terraform configuration. This command is a crucial step before deploying changes. It highlights syntax errors or misconfigurations before applying changes. This is a proactive step in catching errors early in the development process.

Terraform plan

Before making any changes to the infrastructure, use the Terraform plan command. It provides a detailed preview of the actions Terraform will take based on the current configuration. can review the proposed changes before applying them, ensuring that the expected modifications align with the desired infrastructure state.

Terraform apply

Once reviewed the proposed changes using Terraform plan and confirmed that everything looks good, proceed with Terraform apply. This command creates or updates infrastructure according to the Terraform configuration. It executes the planned changes and provisions resources as defined in the configuration files.

Terraform get

While working with modules in the root module, use Terraform get to download and update the required modules. This command ensures that the modules are up to date and ready for use within the configuration.

Terraform workspace new

When managing multiple environments or configurations, use Terraform workspace new to create a new workspace. This command helps in segregating different environments and selecting the appropriate workspace for deployment.

Terraform destroy

When it's time to tear down and remove the infrastructure created by Terraform, use Terraform destroy. This command efficiently removes all resources managed by Terraform, allowing me to clean up the environment and free up resources.

Terraform graph

To visualize the dependency graph of the infrastructure and understand the relationships between resources, use the Terraform graph command. This creates a resource graph listing all resources in the configuration and their dependencies, offering a comprehensive overview of the infrastructure setup.

Related Reading

What are Some Best Practices to Adopt for Terraform Automation?

notes on the desk for Terraform Automation

When using Terraform, it is always best to use remote state. This allows for multiple team members to collaborate on the same Terraform configuration. Remote state helps in seeing how changes will impact the infrastructure without the need for local state files. 

Leveraging Existing Shared and Community Modules

Shared modules can expedite workflows and reduce the time needed for setup. These modules are usually written by professionals, which means they are production-ready and tested.

Importing Existing Infrastructure

If existing infrastructure is in place, importing it into Terraform is a best practice. It can be less work than rewriting current infrastructure in Terraform.

Avoiding Hard-Coded Variables

Hard-coded variables should be avoided. For example, if a Terraform configuration references an AMI ID, it should not be hardcoded but passed as a variable.

Always Formatting and Validating

Formatting Terraform code and validating it can avoid potential errors. This also ensures that all team members follow a consistent structure.

Implementing a Consistent Naming Convention

Using a naming convention, such as the Terragrunt approach, can make sure that everything is named in a consistent and predictable way.

Tagging Resources

Using tags on resources is beneficial for filtering and identifying resources later on. Tags provide information about a resource, which can be helpful in tracking costs or managing security.

Introducing Policy as Code

Implementing policy as code can help ensure compliance and governance is followed. It adds a layer of security while ensuring configuration drifts are detected early.

Implementing a Secrets Management Strategy

It is highly recommended to incorporate a secrets management strategy. This ensures that sensitive information is handled securely.

Testing Terraform Code

Testing Terraform code is essential to ensure it works as expected. Modules need to be tested independently to validate their behavior.

Enabling Debug/Troubleshooting

Debugging and troubleshooting are essential. These practices are essential for understanding what's wrong when something fails.

Building Modules Wherever Possible

Whenever you can, try to build your configurations in modules. Modularising parts of an infrastructure allows you to reuse and easily test code.

Using Loops and Conditionals

Loops and conditional statements in Terraform code can simplify the configuration. They can also be used to create multiple resources based on one configuration block.

Using Functions

Functions can help make configurations more readable by abstracting complex logic into reusable pieces.

Taking Advantage of Dynamic Blocks

Dynamic blocks are useful when multiple repetitive blocks are needed. They allow for the dynamic creation of blocks of repeated data.

Utilizing Terraform Workspaces

Workspaces allow you to manage separate state files for the same configurations. This can be useful for creating separate environments.

Using the Lifecycle Block

The lifecycle block in Terraform allows for certain configurations to be manipulated to avoid unintended changes. It can help manage the lifecycle of resources.

Utilizing Variables Validations

Validating variables can ensure they meet specific criteria before being passed to the Terraform configuration. This helps prevent errors and unexpected behavior.

Leveraging Helper Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Utilizing helper tools, such as Terragrunt or Terratest, can make your life easier. These tools can streamline workflows and offer additional functionality.

Taking Advantage of the IDE Extensions

IDE extensions can improve productivity and help validate your configurations as you write them. Extensions like Terraform validate can catch errors before they occur.

Related Reading

Zeet Contact Us

Get Control of Your Releases With Zeet's CI/CD & Deployment Platform for Kubernetes and Terraform

Zeet is a powerful platform that optimizes your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investment. With Zeet, your engineering team can reach its full potential by becoming top contributors. Our CI/CD and deployment platform guarantees seamless cloud deployments every time and transforms your team into a top-performing engineering powerhouse.

Contact Zeet today to discover how we can help you maximize your cloud investment and elevate your engineering team’s performance. Let Zeet empower your team to achieve exceptional results and unlock new levels of success.

Subscribe to Changelog newsletter

Jack from the Zeet team shares DevOps & SRE learnings, top articles, and new Zeet features in a twice-a-month newsletter.

Thank you!

Your submission has been processed
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.