What comes after infrastructure as code

Posted: 22 March 2024

I don't mean what do we do after we're “done” with infrastructure as code; rather, what will replace it? Or at least, how will it become efficient enough to actually work for 90% of businesses that are struggling to keep their cloud infrastructure secure, stable, and scaleable?

It's becoming increasingly clear that the current approach to IaC may not be sustainable in the long run. The complexity of modern environments, coupled with the accelerating pace of innovation, is pushing the boundaries of what IaC can achieve, or at least without a series of frustrating and costly incidents.

The Limitations of Infrastructure as Code

IaC has revolutionised our workflows by automating the provisioning and management of infrastructure through code, ensuring consistency, and reducing manual errors. Despite its benefits, it's not without its challenges:

  1. Complexity and Scalability: As cloud environments become more complex, the IaC scripts required to manage them grow in complexity and size. This leads to scalability issues, making it difficult to manage and update infrastructure efficiently.
  2. Skill Gap: IaC requires a specific skill set that blends traditional ops with software development expertise. The scarcity of professionals with these combined skills is a big blocker for the adoption and effective use of IaC.
  3. Security and Compliance: Managing security and compliance through IaC can be challenging, especially as the infrastructure scales and evolves, not to mention organisational changes. Ensuring that IaC scripts comply with security policies and regulations requires constant vigilance and updates.
  4. Tool Fragmentation: The IaC ecosystem is usually pretty fragmented, with various tools and platforms available, sometimes duplicates within an organisation. As you can imaging, this leads to inconsistencies and integration challenges, complicating the management of cloud environments.

Beyond Infrastructure as Code: The Next Wave of Innovation

So what's next?

1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and ML will surely play a crucial role in the future of cloud infrastructure. The idea is that organisations can automate the optimisation of cloud resources, predict and prevent potential issues, and ensure compliance with security policies. AI-driven analytics can also offer insights into usage patterns, helping businesses make more informed decisions about scaling and resource allocation.

2. Immutable Infrastructure

Immutable infrastructure is an approach where servers and other infrastructure components are replaced rather than updated. This model aligns well with cloud-native principles and microservices architectures, reducing the complexity and risk associated with managing and updating infrastructure. By treating infrastructure components as disposable, immutable infrastructure simplifies rollbacks, enhances security, and promotes more predictable deployments.

3. Policy as Code

Building on the principles of IaC, Policy as Code (PaC) is an approach that automates the enforcement of policy rules and compliance standards across the cloud infrastructure. PaC enables organisations to define and manage security policies, governance rules, and compliance requirements as code, ensuring they are consistently applied across all infrastructure components. This approach streamlines compliance management and strengthens security postures by integrating policy enforcement directly into the deployment pipeline.

4. Infrastructure Automation Platforms

Emerging platforms are integrating AI, ML, and other advanced technologies to offer more holistic solutions for infrastructure automation. These platforms aim to provide a unified interface for managing the entire lifecycle of cloud infrastructure, from provisioning and configuration to monitoring and optimisation. By abstracting the complexity of underlying cloud services, these platforms aim to make cloud infrastructure management more accessible and scalable.

Wrapping Up

The future of cloud infrastructure is certainly ready for another significant transformation, driven by the limitations of the current Infrastructure as Code model and the emergence of innovative technologies and approaches. As organisations navigate their “unique” journeys, the focus will shift from merely automating infrastructure provisioning to optimising the entire cloud ecosystem for efficiency, security, and agility. By embracing these new paradigms, businesses will be able to build more resilient, scalable, and future-proof cloud environments.