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Difference Between CloudFormation VS Terraform

Last Updated : 05 Feb, 2024
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In the dynamic world of cloud computing, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has emerged as a fundamental practice for managing and provisioning resources efficiently. CloudFormation and Terraform are two prominent tools in the IaC space, each offering unique features and capabilities. This article goals to offer a comprehensive understanding of the differences between AWS CloudFormation and HashiCorp Terraform, overlaying key terminologies, utilization scenarios, and practical examples.

Cloudformation-VS-Terraform

Primary Terminologies

AWS CloudFormation

  • Stack: A collection of AWS resources managed and created as a single unit.
  • Template: A JSON or YAML formatted text file that describes the set of resources and properties needed for a stack.
  • Drift Detection: A feature that identifies differences between the actual stack configuration and the expected (desired) stack configuration.

HashiCorp Terraform

  • Provider: The cloud service or platform that Terraform interacts with (e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP).
  • HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL): A domain-specific language used by Terraform to explain infrastructure configurations.
  • State: A file that keeps track of the current state of the its resources and infrastructure.

CloudFormation Vs Terraform: A Step-By-Step Comparison

S.No

Parameter

CloudFormation

Terraform

1.

Multi-Cloud Support

AWS-specific, designed for AWS services.

Supports multiple cloud providers, making it versatile for multi-cloud environments.

2.

Language

JSON or YAML

HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) or JSON, designed for human readability.

3.

Community and Ecosystem

Strong integration with AWS services and an AWS-centric community.

The support for many clouds has led to a larger and active community and ecosystem.

4.

State Management

State management is handled automatically by AWS.

Explicit state management, state can be stored remotely for collaboration.

5.

Drift Detection

Provides stack drift detection to identify changes in the actual infrastructure.

The Terraform plan command enables drift identification by showing changes prior to application.

6.

Failure Handling

Optional rollback

Fix & retry

Pros And Cons Of CloudFormation

The following are the pros and cons of the AWS Cloud Formation:

Pros Of CloudFormation

  • No setup required.
  • Integrated UI with (AWS) console.
  • Cloudformation is more stable and well architectured.
  • Infrastructure as a service.
  • Cloudformation comes with the following ready to run sample templates:
    • WordPress – blog
    • Tracks – project tracking
    • Gollum – wiki used by GitHub
    • Drupal – content management
    • Joomla – content management

Cons Of CloudFormation

  • It cannot be used to managed resource across multiple cloud providers.
  • It enables only five hundred resource to be added per templates.
  • Poor at handling traffic.

Pros And Cons Of Terraform

The following are the pros and cons of the Terraform:

Pros Of Terraform

  • Simple Commands.
  • Terraform CLI is open source so anyone can add a feature.
  • It has workspaces, which makes it easier to manage multiple environments.
  • It allow user to alter, write & modify the configuration for the SDN services.

Cons Of Terraform

  • Its complicated while using a local files.
  • It does not contain GUI.
  • Difficult to operate the existing stacks
  • Expensive enterprice plan.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the choice between AWS CloudFormation and HashiCorp Terraform is driven by a variety of factors, such as platform specificity, the need for multi-cloud integration, and community support. Understanding terminologies, usage scenarios, and practical examples is crucial to making informed decisions when adopting IaC tools. In addition to offering flexibility and automation in resource provisioning, each tool improves the efficiency and scalability of cloud infrastructure management.

CloudFormation And Terraform – FAQs

Does AWS CloudFormation Support Multi-Cloud Environments?

No, AWS CloudFormation was created especially for AWS infrastructure. A better option is Terraform if you need multi-cloud support.

How Does Terraform Handle Secrets Or Sensitive Information?

Terraform enables backend configurations for the safe storage of state files and offers the sensitive parameter for marking sensitive properties.

Can I Combine Terraform And AWS CloudFormation In The Same Project?

While technically possible, Because of the possible complexity and difficulties in regulary managing resources, it is adviced.

Does AWS CloudFormation Support Parallel Resource Creation Like Terraform?

No, within a stack, AWS CloudFormation creates resources sequentially.

Is It Possible To Version Control Terraform Or CloudFormation Templates Configurations?

Yes, both Terraform and CloudFormation templates configurations can be version controlled using tools like Git.



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