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Utpal Nadiger for Digger

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Typical challenges faced while setting up CI/CD for Terraform at scale

Say, hypothetically, that you are a part of a startup handling payments, and after a good few months of effort, you have now codified all of your infrastructure in Terraform. Your next task is to set up CI/CD for terraform to automate terraform deployments and enable collaborative, self-service deployments for all the (hypthetical) 500 developers in your team. This article aims to explain the challenges you are likely to face while doing this.

Setting up CI/CD for Terraform at scale involves addressing challenges such as managing state files, ensuring environment consistency, and maintaining collaboration and version control.

The process also includes implementing automated testing, modularizing code, and establishing workflows to manage the dynamic nature of IaC.

Let's get into the specifics, then.

Modularization of Code

In CI/CD for IaC, code modularization is crucial. It involves breaking down infrastructure code into distinct, reusable modules. This approach enhances manageability, allowing developers to focus on specific areas without impacting others. It also reduces duplication, as common functionalities are abstracted into modules that can be reused across different parts of the infrastructure. This method streamlines updates and maintenance, as changes to a module propagate wherever it's used, ensuring consistency and reducing the likelihood of errors in large-scale deployments.

(Image credit - FreeCodeCamp)

Secret Management

Managing secrets, such as API keys and passwords, is essential in IaC. Exposing these secrets can lead to security vulnerabilities. Using secret management tools is a recommended practice (Hashicorp Vault, or Infisical are highly recommended by the community).

Secret Management
(Image credit - IN4IT)

These tools store secrets securely and provide controlled access to them, ensuring that sensitive information is not hardcoded in the IaC scripts. Proper secrets management not only enhances security but also simplifies the process of rotating and updating secrets, which is a critical aspect of maintaining the security posture in CI/CD environments.

Infrastructure Monitoring and Logging

Setting up comprehensive monitoring and logging is vital for maintaining the health and performance of infrastructure. This involves collecting, analyzing, and storing logs from various components of the infrastructure.

Effective monitoring enables teams to detect and respond to issues proactively, minimizing downtime. Logging provides valuable insights into the performance and behavior of the infrastructure, aiding in troubleshooting and optimizing resource utilization. In large-scale deployments, automated monitoring and alerting systems are indispensable for maintaining stability and performance.

Handling Dependencies

Effective management of dependencies between different infrastructure components is crucial. Dependencies must be clearly defined and managed to ensure that changes in one component do not adversely affect others.

This requires a thorough understanding of the infrastructure's architecture and the interrelations between its components. Proper dependency management facilitates smoother updates and minimizes the risk of failures during deployment. It also aids in predicting the impact of changes, allowing for better planning and testing of updates.

Cost Management

Monitoring and managing the costs associated with deployed infrastructure is essential to avoid budget overruns. This includes regular reviews of resource utilization, identifying underutilized or unnecessary resources, and optimizing infrastructure to balance performance with cost.

Cost Management

Implementing cost monitoring tools and setting up alerts for budget thresholds helps in maintaining financial control. Effective cost management ensures that the infrastructure meets the required performance standards without incurring unnecessary expenses, which is especially important in large-scale operations where costs can escalate quickly.


Thank you for reading until the end. Before you go, just wanted to share the following:

  • We're building an Open Source Tool that helps you orchestrate Terraform within CI/CD systems such as GitHub Actions while providing RBAC via OPA, Drift Detection and Concurrency with a self hostable orchestrator backend. Would love your feedback!

  • Star us on GitHub | Check out Docs | Blog | Slack

Top comments (3)

debadyuti profile image

Top points that you are addressing!

uliyahoo profile image

Great Article! Thanks for sharing

utpalnadiger profile image
Utpal Nadiger

Thanks @uliyahoo!