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What is Terraform?
What is Kubernetes?
Terraform vs. Kubernetes feature comparison
Choosing Terraform vs. Kubernetes

In order to efficiently and quickly develop and deliver applications, many software tools on the market can help shorten the systems development lifecycle and support the infrastructure management process. Terraform and Kubernetes are two software systems that each provide helpful tools and features for the application development lifecycle. Though these products have overlapping capabilities, they take different approaches to assist users in their application processes, as Terraform is an infrastructure tool and Kubernetes is a container orchestration tool. This article will explain the features and capabilities of each of these DevOps solutions.

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What is Terraform?

Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as a service software platform created by HashiCorp. It enables developers to utilize their repeatable and scalable data center infrastructure with software features and capabilities that will underlie their development projects.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source software system that helps users manipulate containers upon their infrastructure quickly and automate their software deployment. In addition, it is platform-independent, allowing users to orchestrate and manage their containerized applications across multiple hosts.

Terraform vs. Kubernetes feature comparison

Multi-cloud deploymentLifecycle managementPrivate module registryAutomation capabilitiesBuilt-in containerization

Common features of Terraform and Kubernetes

Multicloud deployment

Terraform can perform compliance and management in a multicloud environment. Its multi-vendor infrastructure topologies enable users to manage workflows consistently across over 200 available providers. These providers have infrastructure-specific APIs, and Terraform uses the features from different providers to organize them in a single topology. This way, users can utilize the same workflow to manage multiple vendors and cross-cloud dependencies.

Kubernetes can also be deployed across multi-cloud environments. It is an open-source tool that enables users to use hybrid, cloud or on-premises infrastructures. In addition, Kubernetes makes it possible for multiple cloud providers to be used within the same managed Kubernetes cluster. This is helpful for container storage across cloud infrastructures, as the container storage interface manages the storage between Kubernetes and a cloud provider’s APIs. However, to facilitate the operation of multi-cloud clusters, some automation features like scaling and healing may need to be configured to only apply to nodes from just one cloud provider or deactivated altogether.

Lifecycle management

Terraform users can manage their resource lifecycles with lifecycle arguments. These involve custom rules for creating and destroying resources. Resources are Terraform’s term for one or more infrastructure objects. Users can use arguments within their lifecycles to review the resources managed by their Terraform state file, prevent the destruction of resources, and create resources before they are destroyed. Users can also perform other lifecycle management options to avoid or adjust their resource deletion.

Users of Kubernetes software can manage the lifecycles of their pods. Pods are the smallest deployable computing units in Kubernetes and are a group of one or more containers with shared storage and network resources. They follow a lifecycle to test the container states based on their health. Kubernetes can replace containers that fail based on the user’s preferences. The Kubernetes self-healing feature can also manage failed containers when they fail or when nodes die. These are just a few lifecycle capabilities that users can manage through their Kubernetes solutions.

Automation capabilities

Terraform users can automate their infrastructure provisioning, compliance and management. Automation can provide consistency between runs, features for controlling Terraform output, and more. For example, Terraform’s remote state feature can automatically save states for updates by subsequent runs. It can then automatically restore systems to protect these desired states. In addition, utilizing Terraform’s version control integration allows the system to perform runs automatically once a pull request is merged into the system’s main branch. The solution also lets users automate their provisioning and other aspects of environment lifecycles.

Kubernetes has various automation features that can be helpful for DevOps processes. For example, the system can automatically roll out applications or their configuration changes while monitoring its health. If an issue occurs, the system will automatically roll back the change. Automatic bin packing is another feature, where Kubernetes places containers automatically according to their specific resource requirements and constraints. In addition, users can automate storage orchestration to mount the user’s preferred storage systems. Finally, the solution can scale user applications automatically based on CPU usage. Other automated capabilities also involve processes like self-healing, logging, auditing and more.

Choosing Terraform vs. Kubernetes

Terraform and Kubernetes are powerful tools that can help users increase the efficiency of their project lifecycle. So, which of these software systems is the better option for DevOps processes? To answer this question and walk away with the best product for your needs, you should remember that these tools are designed to serve different functions within the application development lifecycle. Therefore, their usefulness is dependent on your needs.

For example, Terraform has features to support infrastructure development and automation, which can be helpful for users who wish to provision infrastructures repeatedly. However, Kubernetes allows users to orchestrate their containerized applications, making it a better option for teams looking to manage their container workloads.

If each of these solutions seems ideal for your DevOps processes, they can also be used together, increasing their functionality. For example, Terraform can be a helpful tool to provision Kubernetes clusters, and users of both tools can benefit from the features provided by each product. Therefore, if you are interested in these products, it is helpful to assess their features and capabilities to determine the option that would provide the best functionality for your DevOps needs.