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9 Mar
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Complete Terraform Getting Started Guide (2024)

Looking for Terraform getting started guide in 2024? This guide has everything you need to know to start using Terraform effectively.

Jack Dwyer

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What Is Terraform and IaC?

a dev computer ready for iac - Terraform Getting Started

Before we dive into our getting started guide, let’s answer a question that many of you may have at the moment: What is Terraform?

Terraform is a tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. It allows you to use a high-level configuration language to describe the desired state of your infrastructure, known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC). IaC is the practice of managing and provisioning computing infrastructure through machine-readable definition files rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. 

Key Benefits of Using Terraform for Infrastructure Provisioning

The key benefits of using Terraform for infrastructure provisioning are immense. Terraform helps in automating the process of setting up and managing the infrastructure, ensuring consistency across environments. It enables you to easily scale resources up or down, saving time and reducing the likelihood of human error. Terraform's ability to provide a clear, human-readable definition of your infrastructure allows for better collaboration among team members and simplifies troubleshooting.

How Terraform Manages Infrastructure as Code and Its Advantages

Terraform manages infrastructure as code by defining the desired state of the infrastructure in configuration files. These files describe the resources needed, their configurations, and how they are interconnected. Terraform then compares the current state of the infrastructure with the desired state and makes the necessary changes to achieve that state.

Version Control and Replication

The advantages of managing infrastructure as code with Terraform are manifold. It enables you to version control your infrastructure configuration, track changes over time, and easily replicate environments. This approach also enhances security by reducing configuration drift and ensuring that all changes are documented and reviewed before implementation.

Optimizing Cloud Deployments with Zeet

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

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Important Terraform Terms To Understand

important terms on a book - Terraform Getting Started

Infrastructure as Code (IAC)

Infrastructure as Code (IAC) is the practice of managing infrastructure in a descriptive model, using code and software development techniques. With Terraform, IAC allows you to define and provision infrastructure components such as virtual machines, networks, and storage in a declarative configuration file.

Terraform Configuration Files

Terraform configuration files, written in HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL), define the desired state of your infrastructure. These files specify the resources needed and their configurations, enabling Terraform to create, update, or delete resources to match the declared configuration.


Resources in Terraform represent infrastructure components such as compute instances, databases, and networking resources. Each resource block in a Terraform configuration file describes the characteristics and properties of a specific resource, allowing for easy provisioning and management.


Providers in Terraform are plugins that interact with APIs to manage resources. Different cloud providers (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) offer providers that enable Terraform to create and manage resources specific to those platforms. By configuring providers in Terraform files, you can seamlessly provision resources across various cloud environments.


Modules in Terraform are reusable units of configurations that encapsulate a set of resources and their dependencies. They promote code reusability, maintainability, and scalability by allowing you to define and share infrastructure components as modules that can be used in multiple Terraform projects.

State Management

Terraform state files store the current state of your infrastructure. They track the relationships between resources, configuration details, and metadata. Understanding state management is crucial for Terraform users to ensure consistency and manage infrastructure changes effectively.


Variables in Terraform provide flexibility and enable parameterization of configuration files. By defining variables, you can customize configurations without modifying the underlying infrastructure code. Terraform supports different variable types, including string, list, map, and boolean, enhancing the versatility of your infrastructure definitions.


Outputs in Terraform allow you to extract information from the infrastructure configuration after provisioning. They enable you to retrieve values such as IP addresses, resource IDs, or endpoints for use in subsequent configurations or external systems. Leveraging outputs enhances visibility and integration capabilities within your Terraform workflows.

Terraform CLI

The Terraform Command-Line Interface (CLI) is a powerful tool for initializing, planning, applying, and managing infrastructure using Terraform configurations. It offers a range of commands for interacting with Terraform projects, executing operations, and troubleshooting issues, making it essential for Terraform users to navigate and control their infrastructure deployments efficiently.

Terraform Init

Terraform Init is the command used to initialize a Terraform configuration directory. It downloads provider plugins, initializes the backend, and prepares the directory for Terraform operations. By running Terraform Init, users ensure that their configurations are set up correctly and ready for deployment.

Terraform Plan

Terraform Plan generates an execution plan detailing the actions Terraform will take to achieve the desired infrastructure state. It provides insights into resource creation, modification, or deletion before applying changes, enabling users to review and validate the proposed changes to their infrastructure.

Terraform Apply

Terraform Apply is the command used to execute the planned changes and apply them to the infrastructure. By running Terraform Apply, users can create, update, or delete resources based on the configuration files, ensuring that the infrastructure aligns with the desired state defined in the Terraform files.

Terraform Destroy

Terraform Destroy is the command used to tear down and remove all the resources managed by Terraform. It allows users to decommission infrastructure components provisioned through Terraform, helping to clean up resources, reduce costs, and maintain a clean and efficient environment.

Terraform Workspaces

Terraform Workspaces enable users to manage multiple states of the same configuration in parallel. By creating separate workspaces, users can isolate environments, such as development, staging, and production, and maintain distinct state files for each environment. This segregation enhances organization and facilitates collaborative development efforts.

Terraform Cloud

Terraform Cloud is a hosted service by HashiCorp that provides collaboration, governance, and automation capabilities for Terraform projects. It offers features such as remote state management, version control integration, and run triggers, simplifying infrastructure management and enabling teams to work together seamlessly on Terraform deployments.

Sentinel Policies

Sentinel Policies in Terraform are a feature of Terraform Cloud and Enterprise that enables policy as code. By defining and enforcing policies through code, organizations can ensure compliance, security, and best practices within their Terraform workflows. Sentinel Policies help mitigate risks and maintain governance across infrastructure deployments.

Terraform Registry

The Terraform Registry is a repository of modules and provider plugins maintained by the Terraform community and HashiCorp. It serves as a centralized hub for discovering, sharing, and reusing Terraform configurations, accelerating development cycles and promoting standardization and best practices in infrastructure as code projects.

HCL (HashiCorp Configuration Language)

HCL, the HashiCorp Configuration Language, is the language used to write Terraform configuration files. It is designed to be easy to read and write, making it accessible to both developers and operations teams. Understanding HCL syntax and structure is essential for crafting effective and maintainable Terraform configurations.

Cloud Infrastructure Automation

Cloud Infrastructure Automation refers to the process of automating the provisioning, configuration, and management of cloud resources using tools like Terraform. By adopting automation, teams can streamline infrastructure operations, increase efficiency, and reduce human error, leading to more reliable and scalable cloud environments.

Infrastructure Orchestration

Infrastructure Orchestration involves coordinating the deployment and management of interconnected infrastructure components to support applications and services. With Terraform, teams can orchestrate complex infrastructures across multi-cloud environments, ensuring consistency, scalability, and resilience in their operations.

DevOps Integration

DevOps Integration with Terraform involves incorporating infrastructure as code practices into DevOps workflows. By integrating Terraform with CI/CD pipelines, version control systems, and monitoring tools, teams can automate infrastructure changes, improve collaboration between development and operations teams, and accelerate software delivery cycles.

Compliance as Code

Compliance as Code is the practice of defining regulatory and security compliance requirements as code within Terraform configurations. By codifying compliance policies, teams can automate adherence to standards, perform continuous compliance checks, and ensure that infrastructure changes align with organizational policies and industry regulations.

Immutable Infrastructure

Immutable Infrastructure is an architectural approach where infrastructure components are replaced rather than modified in place. With Terraform, teams can embrace immutable infrastructure patterns by provisioning and managing disposable resources, enhancing security, repeatability, and predictability in their environments.

Infrastructure Cost Optimization

Infrastructure Cost Optimization involves managing cloud resources efficiently to minimize costs while maintaining performance and scalability. By leveraging Terraform's infrastructure as code capabilities, teams can optimize resource provisioning, rightsizing instances, and implementing cost-saving strategies, leading to optimized cloud spending and improved ROI.

Incident Response Automation

Incident Response Automation with Terraform enables teams to automate the recovery and mitigation of infrastructure incidents. By codifying incident response procedures in Terraform configurations, teams can rapidly restore services, minimize downtime, and enhance resilience in the face of disruptions, ensuring business continuity and customer satisfaction.

Continuous Infrastructure Compliance

Continuous Infrastructure Compliance aims to uphold security and regulatory standards by continuously monitoring and enforcing compliance within infrastructure deployments. With Terraform, teams can integrate compliance checks into their pipelines, automate remediation actions, and maintain a consistent state of compliance across dynamic cloud environments.

Orchestrating Multi-Cloud Environments

Orchestrating Multi-Cloud Environments with Terraform involves managing infrastructure across multiple cloud providers seamlessly. By leveraging Terraform's provider plugins and modules, teams can orchestrate resources in diverse cloud environments, enabling hybrid and multi-cloud strategies, reducing vendor lock-in, and enhancing flexibility in their deployments.

Get Seamless Cloud Deployments

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.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

Complete Terraform Getting Started Guide (2024)

setting up terraform - Terraform Getting Started

1. Installing Terraform: Setting the Foundation for Infrastructure Automation

To begin your Terraform journey, the first step is to install Terraform on your local machine. Visit the official Terraform website to download the appropriate version for your operating system. After installation, verify the installation by running `terraform --version` in your terminal. This ensures that Terraform is correctly installed and ready for use in the next steps of your infrastructure automation.

2. Initialising a New Terraform Project: Laying the Groundwork for Automation

Create a new directory for your Terraform project and navigate into it using your terminal. Initialize a new Terraform configuration by running `terraform init`. This command sets up your working directory and prepares it for Terraform configuration. Define variables in your Terraform configurations to make your infrastructure code more dynamic and reusable. Utilize variables for components that may change across environments or deployments.

3. Planning Infrastructure with Terraform: Designing Your Infrastructure Blueprint

Before deploying any infrastructure changes, it's crucial to plan and visualize the desired state of your infrastructure. Use `terraform plan` to create an execution plan. This command shows what Terraform will do when you run `terraform apply`. Review the plan carefully to ensure it aligns with your expectations and desired infrastructure configuration.

4. Terraform State and Managing Infrastructure: Maintaining Infrastructure Consistency

Terraform state is a crucial aspect of managing your infrastructure. The state file keeps track of the current state of your infrastructure and configuration. Use remote backend services like Amazon S3 or Terraform Cloud to store your state file securely and enable collaboration within your team. Managing Terraform state effectively ensures consistency across deployments and team members.

5. Deploying Your Configuration: Bringing Your Infrastructure to Life

After planning and reviewing your infrastructure changes, it's time to apply your configuration and deploy the changes. Run `terraform apply` to execute the changes defined in your Terraform configuration. Terraform will create, update, or delete resources based on your configuration. Monitor the deployment process for any errors or warnings and confirm the changes before proceeding.

Zeet's CI/CD Deployment Platform for Seamless Cloud Deployments

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.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Using Terraform In Production Environments

woman navigating through guides on Terraform Getting Started

When working with Terraform in production environments, it's crucial to steer clear of common pitfalls that can disrupt operations and cause issues down the line. One of the key pitfalls to avoid is not planning for state management adequately. State files in Terraform hold crucial information about the infrastructure being managed, so it's essential to store and manage them securely to prevent accidental deletion or unauthorized access.

Another common pitfall is not following best practices for version control. Keeping track of changes to infrastructure code using version control systems like Git allows for easier collaboration, rollback capabilities, and a clear audit trail of modifications. Neglecting this aspect can lead to confusion, errors, and difficulties in troubleshooting issues. Not implementing proper security measures, such as managing access control and credentials securely, can expose sensitive information and put the infrastructure at risk of unauthorized access or breaches.

Get Seamless Cloud Deployments with Zeet

Looking to streamline your cloud deployments and enhance your Terraform workflows? Zeet helps you get more from your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments by providing a comprehensive CI/CD deployment platform. 

With Zeet, your engineering team can become strong individual contributors, delivering high-quality deployments consistently. Contact Zeet today to learn how we can help you get seamless cloud deployments every time and transform your team into a top-performing engineering powerhouse.

How Terraform Handles Dependencies Between Resources In A Deployment

illustration of dependencies - Terraform Getting Started

Terraform manages dependencies between resources by utilizing the concept of implicit and explicit dependencies. 

Implicit Dependencies

When a resource refers to another resource within its configuration, Terraform automatically creates a dependency between them. For example, if a virtual machine needs a specific security group, including the security group in the VM configuration file establishes an implicit dependency. Terraform recognizes this relationship and ensures that the security group is created before the VM.

Explicit Dependencies

In some cases, dependencies between resources are more complex and cannot be inferred solely from the configuration file. In such scenarios, explicit dependencies are used to specify the order in which resources should be created or managed. This is achieved through the use of `depends_on` attribute within the resource block. By explicitly defining dependencies, Terraform ensures that resources are provisioned in the correct sequence, addressing any interdependencies that may exist.

Dependency Graph

Terraform builds a dependency graph based on the resource definitions in the configuration files. This graph outlines the relationships between resources and determines the order of resource creation and management. By analyzing this graph, Terraform can efficiently orchestrate the deployment process, handling dependencies between resources effectively. 

Terraform Plan

Before applying changes to the infrastructure, Terraform generates an execution plan that outlines the sequence of actions it will take. This plan considers dependencies between resources and ensures that changes are applied in the correct order. By examining the execution plan, users can validate the intended changes and review how Terraform will manage dependencies during the deployment process. 

Consistent State Management

Terraform maintains a state file that records the current state of the infrastructure. By tracking the relationships between resources in this state file, Terraform can accurately manage dependencies and identify any drift from the desired configuration. This consistent state management enables Terraform to handle dependencies effectively and maintain the integrity of the infrastructure deployment.

Different Ways To Authenticate Terraform To Interact With Cloud Providers

When it comes to authenticating Terraform to interact with cloud providers, there are several ways to ensure a secure and seamless connection. One common method is using environment variables to provide credentials securely without hardcoding them in your Terraform code. This approach helps maintain confidentiality and security while enabling Terraform to authenticate with the cloud provider.

Secure Credential Management in Terraform

Another popular option is to use shared credentials files that store your access key, secret key, and other necessary authentication details. By referencing this shared credentials file in your Terraform configuration, you can securely authenticate with the cloud provider without exposing sensitive information in your codebase.

Controlling Terraform Access with Roles and Policies

Leveraging IAM roles and policies within your cloud provider environment can grant Terraform the necessary permissions to manage resources. By assigning the appropriate roles to the IAM user or instance profile used by Terraform, you can control access and actions within your cloud environment.

Identity Federation with AWS STS and Azure AD

For an even more robust authentication method, utilizing identity federation services like AWS Security Token Service (STS) or Azure Active Directory can enhance security by enabling temporary credentials for Terraform operations. This approach adds an extra layer of protection and control over your cloud resources while ensuring that Terraform can interact securely with the cloud provider.

Zeet's CI/CD Deployment Platform for Top-Performing Teams

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

Related Reading

How To Integrate Terraform Into A Continuous Deployment Pipeline

CI CD pipline with data blocks - Terraform Getting Started

Terraform can be seamlessly integrated into a continuous deployment pipeline to automate the process of provisioning and managing infrastructure. By incorporating Terraform scripts into a version-controlled repository, such as Git, teams can ensure consistency and reliability in their infrastructure deployments. 

Utilizing tools like Jenkins or GitLab CI/CD pipelines, teams can trigger Terraform scripts to automatically apply changes to the infrastructure based on code commits, enabling a streamlined and efficient deployment process.

Get Seamless Cloud Deployments with Zeet

Zeet helps you to get more from your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments by providing a powerful CI/CD deployment platform. Zeet enables your engineering team to become strong individual contributors, guiding them towards top performance in their roles. 

Contact Zeet to learn more about how Zeet can help you get seamless cloud deployments every time, and empower your team to reach new heights as a top-performing engineering team.

How Terraform Handles Drift Detection and Reconciliation

Terraform employs a mechanism known as "state management" to handle drift detection and reconciliation with the actual infrastructure state. The state file in Terraform keeps track of the resources and their configurations as defined in the Terraform configuration files. 

Configuration Drift Detection

When you apply changes to your infrastructure using Terraform, it compares the current state of the infrastructure with the state defined in the Terraform configuration. This allows Terraform to detect any discrepancies or drift that may have occurred outside of Terraform and reconcile them by either updating the infrastructure to match the configuration or updating the configuration to reflect the current state.

Ensuring Infrastructure Consistency

By leveraging Terraform's state management capabilities, users can ensure that their infrastructure remains in the desired state as defined in their Terraform configurations. This helps in maintaining consistency and avoiding configuration drift, ultimately leading to more reliable and predictable infrastructure deployments.

Get Seamless Cloud Deployments with Zeet

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.

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Become A Top Performing Engineering Team With Zeet's CI/CD Deployment Platform for Kubernetes and Terraform

Zeet is a game-changer when it comes to maximizing the potential of your cloud infrastructure, Kubernetes setup, and Terraform utilization. With Zeet's cutting-edge CI/CD deployment platform, your engineering team can elevate their skills and efficiency to new heights. By streamlining the deployment process, Zeet ensures seamless cloud deployments every time, taking the hassle out of managing complex infrastructures.

Contact Zeet today to discover how their innovative solutions can empower your team to excel in their Terraform endeavors. With Zeet's support, your team can become top-performing engineering professionals, making a significant impact in the tech industry. Don't miss out on the opportunity to leverage Zeet's expertise and propel your cloud deployments to the next level.

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