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11 Apr
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28 Most Powerful Terraform Tools (2024)

Stay ahead with the latest Terraform tools. From automation to monitoring, these are what you need to streamline your infrastructure operations.

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

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What Is Terraform?

definition of Terraform Tools

What is Terraform? Terraform is an open-source Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool that allows users to define infrastructure configurations in a declarative language and then create, manage, and update resources across various cloud providers. Each time you run Terraform, it compares the current state of your infrastructure to the desired state in your configuration files, and changes only what is necessary to move towards this desired state. 

Streamlining Infrastructure Management

This process simplifies the automation of infrastructure management across various cloud providers, ensuring consistency and enabling rapid delivery and iteration of infrastructure changes. In addition to automating the provisioning and configuration of cloud resources, Terraform also helps manage dependencies, enabling you to define the relationships and order of dependencies between different resources. 

Ensuring Consistency and Efficiency

This ensures that infrastructure changes are made in the correct order and that all resources are consistently connected and configured. Terraform's ability to manage infrastructure as code across various cloud providers makes it a powerful tool for organizations looking to increase their efficiency, consistency, and scalability.

The Case for Terraform Tools

team working together with Terraform Tools

Improving Efficiency and Productivity

The right Terraform tools can significantly improve the efficiency of your workflow. For instance, tools that automate the generation of Terraform configuration files from existing infrastructure (e.g., Terraformer) can save countless hours that would otherwise be spent writing these files manually. This automation speeds up the process of adopting Terraform for managing existing resources and ensures a smoother transition to IaC practices.

Enhancing Collaboration Among Teams

Tools like Terraform Cloud and Terraform Enterprise provide features designed for team collaboration, such as state locking, history, and integrated approval workflows. These features are crucial for teams working on the same infrastructure, ensuring that changes are applied consistently and safely. By choosing the right tools that support collaboration, teams can work more effectively together, minimizing the risks of conflicts and errors.

Cost Management and Optimization

Cost management tools that integrate with Terraform, such as InfraCost, offer insights into the potential costs of your infrastructure before it's deployed. This enables teams to make informed decisions and optimize their infrastructure for cost while still meeting performance requirements. Such tools are invaluable for avoiding surprises in cloud spending and for keeping infrastructure costs under control.

Ensuring Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are critical considerations in infrastructure management. Tools that analyze Terraform plans and state files for security vulnerabilities or compliance with industry standards can help teams address potential issues before they become problems. 

For instance, Checkov scans Terraform code for security misconfigurations, while Terraform compliance focuses on enforcing compliance rules. Incorporating these tools into the workflow helps maintain high security and compliance standards.

Streamlining Testing and Validation

Testing tools like Terratest allow developers to write automated tests for their Terraform modules, ensuring that the infrastructure behaves as expected. This is crucial for maintaining the reliability and stability of infrastructure as code. 

By selecting the right testing tools, teams can build confidence in their infrastructure changes, reduce the likelihood of production incidents, and facilitate a culture of testing and quality assurance.

Documentation and Knowledge Sharing

Tools that automatically generate documentation from Terraform code (e.g., Terraform-docs) promote better knowledge sharing within teams and with stakeholders. Up-to-date documentation is essential for understanding the architecture and operations of the infrastructure, making onboarding of new team members more efficient, and facilitating compliance with documentation standards.

Zeet Terraform and Helm Product Overview

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4 Best Terraform CI/CD tools Tools

a tick sign on a board - Terraform Tools

1. Zeet

Zeet is an efficient CI/CD & Deployment platform that facilitates cloud infrastructure automation. With Zeet, teams can streamline the deployment and management of projects across various clouds like AWS, Linode, CoreWeave, GCP, and more. 

This tool simplifies the process of deploying and managing projects, enabling teams to focus on application development rather than worrying about cloud operations and Kubernetes management. Zeet is designed to reduce complexity, making it easier to run any application in any cloud.

2. Spacelift

Spacelift, similar to Atlantis and Terraform Cloud, prioritizes developers, policies, and simplicity. Users can access Spacelift using SSO from their VCS provider and start utilizing its features instantly. Unlike many other CI/CD tools, Spacelift supports Terraform along with Cloudformation, Ansible, Pulumi, and Kubernetes, which sets it apart from the competition.

3. Atlantis

Atlantis is an excellent open-source tool for automating Terraform pull-requests, a pivotal aspect when perfecting your GitOps workflow. For managing multiple developers, committing code, creating pull requests, and deploying code, Atlantis is indispensable. 

4. Terraform Cloud

Part of the Hashicorp Cloud Platform (HCP), Terraform Cloud manages Terraform deployments initiated by VCS commits. It oversees your variables, secrets, resources, and more. Terraform Cloud allows automation of its scripting in Terraform, providing a comprehensive experience. While Terraform Cloud focuses solely on supporting Terraform, it excels in its functionality. The free version is great for small teams, but pricing increases as you scale up.

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Best Terraform Native Tool

a work setup for a dev - Terraform Tools

1. Terraform CLI

The Terraform CLI is the primary tool for interacting with Terraform. It gets installed alongside other Terraform tools when you download Terraform. The CLI allows you to create, manage, and inspect your Terraform infrastructure.

2. Terraform Workspace

Terraform Workspaces allow you to have multiple instances of the same infrastructure, or you can use them to manage different environments like development, staging, and production. Terraform Workspaces help you manage different states for your environment.

3. Terraform State

Terraform State is the source of truth for your infrastructure. It tells Terraform what resources are in your environment and what their properties are. It is maintained by Terraform and can be saved remotely in services like Terraform Cloud, or it can be saved locally in a file.

4. Terraform Import

Terraform Import is used to import existing resources into your Terraform state. This is useful if you already have a bunch of resources that you built manually, and you want Terraform to manage them. The Terraform Import command helps you move these resources into your Terraform state.

5. Terraform Console

The Terraform Console is probably one of the most overlooked tools in the arsenal. This is surprising because it’s native to Terraform and is packaged within the binary! Terraform Console provides an interactive console that can be used to test and evaluate any Terraform expressions you may wish to use in your code. Instead of endlessly experimenting, writing awkward outputs, and banging your head against the desk, the Terraform Console allows you to test out complicated expressions before you run your code.

2 Best Terraform IDEs

person on an IDE - Terraform Tools

1. Visual Studio Code: The Top Terraform IDE Tool

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) has just absolutely eclipsed other IDEs in the development world. There may be some great IDEs out there, but the integrations and plugins in VS Code are unparalleled. 

2. PyCharm: The Python-Focused Terraform IDE Tool

PyCharm is an IDE developed by JetBrains and is mostly used for Python developers. It has many free plugins available, and some Terraform plugins offer code auto-completion, syntax highlighting, and even error detection. 

In addition to this, PyCharm offers an integrated terminal and version control support, streamlining the entire workflow from writing infrastructure as code, making the tool exceptionally beneficial for developers working on infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, all JetBrains tools incur some costs, but these won’t break the bank.

Best Terraform Linting Tool

TFLint is an incredibly handy Terraform framework that lets you lint your Terraform code based on a prewritten ruleset or your own custom rules. These rules are added using “plugins.” Some of the most common issues you may want to uncover using TFLint, as cited from Github, are Find possible errors such as invalid instance types for the major cloud providers, including AWS, GCP, and Azure. TFLint can also warn about deprecated syntax and unused declarations. It can even be used to enforce best practices and naming conventions.

6 Best Terraform Security and Compliance Tools

person using security Terraform Tools

1. Open Policy Agent

Open Policy Agent (OPA) is a versatile tool that can be used directly with Terraform. It is written in the Rego language and is utilized as a policy language when analyzing Terraform code. Many tools support OPA, such as Terrascan, Spacelift, and Terraform Cloud. Spacelift, in particular, utilizes OPA for every aspect of the user experience, ensuring that policies are adhered to throughout the entire process.

2. Terrascan

Terrascan, despite its name, is not solely for Terraform but also works seamlessly with various Infrastructure as Code (IaC) providers like Kubernetes, Ansible, and Cloudformation. With a wide array of pre-written policies, Terrascan offers flexibility and allows for custom policy creation to suit unique needs. It integrates with numerous CI/CD tools, making it a valuable addition to any security-conscious pipeline.

3. Checkov

Checkov is similar to Terrascan but utilizes a Python-based policy-as-code framework instead of Rego syntax. The use of Python may make Checkov more approachable for many engineers, as Python is a widely used programming language. By creating policies in Python, users can easily define and enforce security practices within their Terraform infrastructure.

4. Tfsec

Tfsec is another Rego-based policy tool, similar to Terrascan and Checkov. One of its notable features is the ability to create policies using JSON, YAML, or Rego formats. While Rego offers the most flexibility and power, JSON and YAML provide a more readable format for creating policies. Tfsec ensures that Terraform configurations are secure and adhere to predefined best practices.

5. Checkmarx Kics

Checkmarx KICS (Keeping Infrastructure as Code Secure) is an open-source tool designed to identify vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and infrastructure misconfigurations in the early stages of the development cycle. It provides organizations with an opportunity to enhance the security of their Terraform configurations and ensure adherence to security best practices.

6. Snyk

Snyk is a comprehensive security platform that helps developers uncover and address vulnerabilities in open-source dependencies, container images, code, and infrastructure as code (IaC), including Terraform. It offers a free tier for individual developers and provides a user-friendly interface to visualize vulnerabilities present in the repositories added as projects in the application. By utilizing Snyk, users can bolster the security of their Terraform configurations and mitigate potential risks.

Best Terraform Drift Tool

Driftctl is a powerful Terraform drift detection tool that enables you to identify resources that have strayed from your desired state. It can detect both managed resources that have drifted as well as unmanaged resources that were created externally to driftctl. 

This tool allows you to have better control over your infrastructure, ensuring that your defined configuration matches the actual state of your resources. By using driftctl, you can prevent unnecessary and unapproved changes from taking over your infrastructure, maintaining a secure and consistent environment.

Best Terraform Costing Tool

Infracost is probably one of the most popular tools used with Terraform in production deployments. It queries the pricing API of the provider and displays a cost based on what you plan to deploy.

4 Best Terraform HCL Generation Tools

solo dev on his laptop - Terraform Tools

1. Terraformer

Terraformer is an extremely cool product that scans your cloud environment and outputs the necessary Terraform code to redeploy it. This is definitely not the preferred route to codify your resources as, by now, most startups should have started with Terraform on day one. Unfortunately, many companies started before Terraform was the great tool it is today, so tools like Terraformer are ideal for getting things under new management.

2. Pike

Pike is an interesting tool that will analyze the resources you wish to create using Terraform and generate the necessary IAM permissions you need to complete that deployment.

3. Terracognita

Terracognita is a Terraform code importer, that currently supports AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and the VMware VSphere providers. It doesn’t support all resource types for all these providers, but it can be a really helpful tool for transitioning from ClickOps to IaC. The same concerns from Terraformer apply, so you will need to be careful with how you import the resources and be aware that the code it generates won’t respect the best practices.

4. Yor

While Yor is not an HCL generation tool, it adds informative and consistent tags across IaC tools. Yor can automatically add tags to Terraform, CloudFormation, and Serverless Frameworks. It creates unique tags for your IaC resource code blocks, making it easier to trace code blocks to their respective cloud-provisioned resources without accessing sensitive data such as plan or state files.

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Best Terraform Documentation Generation Tool

Terraform Docs

Terraform-docs is an excellent tool to automatically generate your Terraform docs from configuration files. It is extremely useful and simple to use when creating documentation that shows exactly what your users need to know. It exposes variables you can add to a template file, and it will automatically generate the sections for you in an easy-to-read format.

4 Best Terraform Management Tools

team using Terraform Tools

1. TFSwitch

TFSwitch is a utility that simplifies the management of multiple Terraform versions. It allows me to switch between available Terraform versions and download the version needed for a particular project. This tool is key in maintaining code bases with different versions, minimizing syntax errors and ensuring seamless compatibility.

2. Terramate

Terramate is an innovative tool that helps in handling large-scale Terraform deployments by dividing the code into manageable "stacks." These stacks have separate states which enable deploying with lower risk. 

The tool also integrates with Git to automate deployments upon changes. The standout feature of Terramate is its ability to maintain the code "DRY" (Do not Repeat Yourself) by sharing variables, provider configurations, and other data among stacks and automatically generating the required code.

3. Terragrunt

Terragrunt is a widely-used Terraform tool that, similar to Terramate, helps in keeping Terraform code DRY, managing multiple stacks, and more. It simplifies working with multiple cloud accounts, modules, among other functionalities. While the latest Terraform versions have incorporated numerous features, Terragrunt still offers advantages in certain aspects.

4. Tenv

Tenv is a specialized version manager designed to facilitate the management of different versions of OpenTofu, Terraform, and Terragrunt. It streamlines development workflows by enabling easy switching between different versions of these tools, ensuring compatibility and efficiency across various project environments. This functionality proves valuable, especially when simultaneously managing multiple projects that may require different tool versions.

3 Best Terraform Testing Tools

1. Goss: A YAML-based tool for server configuration validation

Goss serves as a YAML-based tool adept at validating server configuration. Goss allows the creation of simple and flexible test scripts for infrastructure testing, fitting perfectly into the DevOps toolchain. 

Using Goss, teams can codify tests in a YAML file that’s easy to read and write. This tool can be run against local or remote hosts, which enables testing on different infrastructure configurations. Its versatility in server configuration validation makes Goss a dependable Terraform testing tool.

2. Serverspec: Extends RSpec for infrastructure testing

Serverspec extends RSpec for infrastructure testing, making it a robust tool to test server configurations and properties. This tool describes the desired state of the server using RSpec and inspects the system to ensure that desired state is achieved. Serverspec is a valuable tool for carrying out integration tests.

By verifying the state of servers after running Terraform scripts, Serverspec enables teams to check that the desired infrastructure state matches the actual state. Its robustness in extending RSpec for infrastructure testing makes it a top choice among Terraform testing tools.

3. Kitchen-Terraform: Integrates with the Kitchen framework for Terraform code testing

Kitchen-Terraform integrates with the Kitchen framework, allowing teams to use Test Kitchen for Terraform code testing. Kitchen is a Ruby-based testing framework with a plugin architecture that enables easy integration with other testing tools. 

By using Kitchen-Terraform, teams can spin up Terraform environments, test the code, and destroy the environments once the tests are completed. This allows for easy and efficient testing of Terraform configurations. The integration with the Kitchen framework makes Kitchen-Terraform an efficient testing tool for Terraform code.

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To learn more about how Zeet can help your team achieve seamless cloud deployments every time and optimize your cloud, Kubernetes, and Terraform investments, reach out to Zeet today.

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