Open In App

Difference Between CloudFormation VS Terraform

Last Updated : 05 Feb, 2024
Like Article

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.


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






Multi-Cloud Support

AWS-specific, designed for AWS services.

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




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


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.


State Management

State management is handled automatically by AWS.

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


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.


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.


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.

Similar Reads

Build a VPC with CloudFormation
Pre-requisite: AWS AWS or Amazon Web Services, Inc. is a sub-division of Amazon that offers on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs for individuals, companies, and governments. CloudFormation is one of the services provided by Amazon Web Services, that helps the client model and set up their own AWS resources to save their time on managing tho
6 min read
What is AWS Cloudformation?
Amazon Web Services(AWS) offers cloud formation as a service by which you can provision and manage complicated services offered by AWS by using the code. Cloudformation will help you to manage the infrastructure and the services in the form of a declarative way. How Does AWS Cloudformation Work?Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the service offered by th
7 min read
Creating a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) with Subnets Using AWS CloudFormation Designer: Step-by-Step Guide
CloudFormation is a service offered by AWS. The goal of this service is to send user requests to AWS through a script written by the user. After receiving a response from AWS, the service displays that information in the AWS console log to update the user on the request status. The term "script" refers to the YAML or JSON file created by the user,
10 min read
AWS CloudFormation Templates
CloudFormation is a popular Infrastructure as a code (Iac) tool provided by Amazon web services (AWS) that allows users to automate the provisioning of AWS services such as EC2, S3, Lamda, etc.CloudFormation manages the entire lifecycle of your infrastructure, including provisioning, updating, and deleting resources. It handles dependencies between
11 min read
AWS Lambda Deployments with AWS CloudFormation
AWS CloudFormation allows to create AWS resources with help of templates. It provisions and deploy all the resources required for the entire application described as a Stack. Templates can be updated and replicated as required to reduce the overhead of implementing and provisioning infrastructure. let's learn how we can provision lambda deployments
6 min read
Difference Between Terraform Vs Ansible
Pre-requisite: Terraform and Ansible Tools like Terraform and Ansible have gained popularity as businesses continue to adopt infrastructure as code (IaC) techniques and embrace cloud computing. Both tools serve similar purposes, but they take different techniques and have other functionalities. Ansible is a powerful automation engine that makes con
6 min read
Microsoft Azure - How To Deploy VM in Azure using Terraform?
Pre-requisite: Azure, Terraform This article demonstrates how to use Terraform to build a complete Linux environment with all the necessary resources. A virtual network, subnet, public IP address, and other resources are among them. Terraform is an open-source tool for building, changing, and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. It may
2 min read
Setup Terraform On Linux and Windows Machine
Before learning about Multicloud, we must know what is a cloud?. Cloud is a name given to groups of different kinds of services provided by the server and is available over the internet. Example: Compute Units, Storage Units (like google drive).Different companies have built their own data centers to provide these cloud services. Example: AWS, GCP,
2 min read
Terraform Syntax With Examples
Managing infrastructure amidst technology's fast-paced evolution has become more complicated. The conventional approach of manual resource provisioning and configuration no longer meets the needs of modern applications and services. As a solution, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has emerged, allowing organizations to automate infrastructure deployment
3 min read
Terraform Plan Command
When we talk about an open-source infrastructure as a code (IaC) tool Terraform automatically comes into the picture. Terraform allows declarative definition and provisioning of infrastructure resources. The Terraform command-line interface (CLI) allows you to establish and maintain your infrastructure across several cloud providers after defining
4 min read