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What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

IaC significantly simplifies the provisioning of IT infrastructure using a descriptive coding language to automate it.

Also known as software-defined infrastructure, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) allows security and IT teams to configure and rapidly deploy infrastructure components with greater consistency by allowing them to be defined as code, enabling automated, repeatable deployments across multiple environments. While traditional data center infrastructure management requires operators and system administrators to configure every change manually, with IaC infrastructure, configuration information is housed in standardized files, which can be read by software that maintains the state of the infrastructure. IaC can improve productivity and reliability because it eliminates manual configuration steps.

At its core, infrastructure as code embodies a paradigm shift in managing and provisioning IT infrastructure. It involves defining infrastructure elements such as servers, networks, and databases in code, typically using a declarative language. Instead of manual configurations and tedious setups, this high-level descriptive coding language automates the provisioning of IT infrastructure deployments by treating them as code. In essence, it applies software engineering principles to infrastructure management, enabling the creation, modification, and deletion of resources through machine-readable definition files. This approach facilitates automation, consistency, and scalability, fostering an environment where infrastructure configurations are reproducible, version-controlled, and easily auditable.

What are the primary components of Infrastructure as Code?

IaC is comprised of a well-organized toolbox, which was designed to revolutionize how organizations can manage their digital infrastructure, which includes several primary components:

  • Machine-Readable Definition Files: Think of these files as the blueprint of your digital infrastructure. They're written in a language that computers understand, allowing you to define and describe your infrastructure components, such as servers, networks, and storage, in a clear and concise manner. These files specify the desired state of the infrastructure, describing the resources, their configurations, and relationships.
  • Version Control Systems (VCS): Just like how architects use blueprints to track changes and revisions in building designs, version control systems enable you to manage and track changes to your infrastructure code over time. This ensures that everyone on your team is working from the same playbook, promotes collaboration, and provides a safety net for rolling back changes if needed. Tools like Git are used to manage and track changes to the infrastructure code, enabling collaboration, rollback, and versioning.
  • Automation Tools: These tools are the powerhouse behind IaC, turning your infrastructure code into reality with the push of a button. They automate the process of provisioning, configuring, and managing infrastructure resources, freeing up valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent on manual tasks. Frameworks like Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, or Ansible are used to provision and manage infrastructure resources based on the code definitions.
  • Testing Frameworks: Testing ensures that the infrastructure code functions correctly and meets requirements before deployment, often using tools like Kitchen, InSpec, or Terraform's built-in testing features.
  • Orchestration: Orchestration tools coordinate the provisioning and configuration of multiple resources, ensuring they are deployed in the correct order and dependencies are managed properly.
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Integration with CI/CD pipelines automates the testing and deployment of infrastructure changes, promoting faster and more reliable delivery.
  • Monitoring and Logging: Integration with monitoring and logging tools provides visibility into the performance and health of the infrastructure, helping to detect and troubleshoot issues.

By combining these components, infrastructure as code empowers organizations to treat their infrastructure like software, enabling agility, consistency, and scalability like never before. It's like having a magic wand that transforms your infrastructure dreams into reality, all while keeping everything organized and under control.

The rise of infrastructure as code tools

Central to the adoption of infrastructure as code is a plethora of tools designed to streamline the deployment and management of digital infrastructure. These tools span a spectrum of functionalities, from provisioning and configuration management to orchestration and monitoring. Prominent among them are:

  • Ansible: An open-source community project sponsored by Red Hat, Ansible helps organizations in automating provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. Operating as a declarative automation tool, Ansible empowers users to craft 'playbooks'—written in the YAML configuration language—to define the desired state of their infrastructure, subsequently handling the provisioning process. Renowned for its efficacy, Ansible is widely adopted for automating the provisioning of Docker containers and Kubernetes deployments.
    Learn about Qualys Kubernetes and Container Security
  • Terraform: A declarative provisioning and infrastructure orchestration tool, Terraform empowers engineers to automate the provisioning of various aspects of their enterprise infrastructure, whether cloud-based or on-premises. Compatible with leading cloud providers, Terraform enables the automated creation of resources across multiple providers simultaneously, regardless of the physical location of servers, DNS servers, or databases. Additionally, Terraform can provision applications developed in any programming language. Unlike Ansible, Terraform lacks configuration management functionalities. However, it seamlessly integrates with configuration management tools such as CloudFormation, automatically provisioning infrastructure as defined by configuration files and adjusting provisioning as needed in response to configuration alterations.
  • Puppet: Allows administrators to define the desired state of their infrastructure using code (in Puppet's own declarative language), and then Puppet ensures that the actual state matches the desired state continuously. This ensures consistency, reliability, and scalability in managing infrastructure across different environments. Puppet is widely used in IT organizations to streamline and automate repetitive tasks related to infrastructure management.
  • AWS CloudFormation : A service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that allows users to define and provision infrastructure resources in a declarative manner. With CloudFormation, users can create templates using JSON or YAML to describe the desired state of their AWS infrastructure, including virtual servers, databases, networking configurations, and other AWS resources. Once the template is defined, CloudFormation handles the provisioning and configuration of these resources, ensuring that they are created and configured correctly and consistently. This helps to automate and streamline the process of deploying and managing infrastructure on AWS.
  • Chef: Enables users to define the desired state of their infrastructure using code (typically written in Ruby) called "recipes" or "cookbooks," and then Chef ensures that the actual state of the infrastructure matches the defined state. Chef supports both declarative and imperative styles of configuration management. It is widely used in IT organizations to automate tasks such as server provisioning, application deployment, and configuration across various environments.

Each tool brings its unique strengths to the table, catering to diverse infrastructural needs and preferences. While Terraform excels in multi-cloud orchestration, Ansible boasts simplicity and agentless operation. Puppet and Chef, on the other hand, specialize in configuration management, offering robust solutions for enforcing infrastructure state. Meanwhile, CloudFormation empowers users within the AWS ecosystem with infrastructure provisioning capabilities.

Business benefits of infrastructure as code

The adoption of infrastructure as code offers numerous benefits to businesses looking for more effective and efficient ways to shield their cloud infrastructure from potential security threats. By revolutionizing the way organizations manage their digital infrastructure, IaC offers a variety of key advantages, including:


With IaC, infrastructure deployments become swift and agile, allowing organizations to adapt to changing demands and scale resources on demand. This agility translates into faster time-to-market for applications and services, fostering innovation and competitiveness.


By codifying infrastructure configurations, IaC ensures consistency across environments, mitigating the risk of configuration drift and minimizing human error. This uniformity promotes reliability and enhances the overall stability of IT operations.


Leveraging the principles of automation, IaC enables seamless scalability, empowering organizations to dynamically allocate resources based on workload requirements. Whether scaling vertically or horizontally, infrastructure adjustments are executed efficiently and consistently.

Version Control

One of the hallmarks of IaC is its integration with version control systems, allowing for the tracking of changes, collaboration among team members, and the rollback to previous configurations if necessary. This version-controlled approach enhances accountability and facilitates auditing and compliance efforts.

Cost Efficiency

By optimizing resource utilization and eliminating manual intervention, IaC helps organizations optimize their infrastructure costs. With the ability to provision resources on-demand and decommission idle assets, businesses can achieve significant savings while maximizing ROI.


IaC empowers organizations with the flexibility to experiment, innovate, and iterate rapidly. Whether adopting new technologies or adapting to evolving business requirements, the modular and declarative nature of IaC facilitates seamless adjustments without disruption.

How does infrastructure as code differ from traditional infrastructure management?

Unlike traditional approaches, IaC treats infrastructure as programmable code, enabling automation, scalability, and consistency. By leveraging automation tools, IaC eliminates the need for manual intervention, reducing the risk of human error and accelerating deployment times. Plus, with the ability to version control your infrastructure code, you gain a level of transparency and control that's simply unparalleled in traditional management approaches.

Can I use infrastructure as code in hybrid cloud environments?

Yes, infrastructure as code is agnostic to the underlying infrastructure, supporting deployments across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments. IaC is perfectly suited for hybrid cloud deployments, where organizations leverage a combination of on-premises infrastructure and cloud services. With infrastructure as code, you can define and manage your infrastructure using code, regardless of where your resources reside.

What role does automation play in infrastructure as code?

Automation is central to IaC, enabling the provisioning, configuration, and management of infrastructure resources without manual intervention. By automating repetitive tasks and workflows, IaC frees up valuable time and resources, allowing you to focus on strategic initiatives and innovation. Plus, with automation, you eliminate the risk of human error, ensuring consistency and reliability across your infrastructure deployments.

How does infrastructure as code enhance security?

By enforcing consistent configurations and automating security policies, IaC helps mitigate vulnerabilities and enhances overall security posture. By codifying infrastructure configurations and policies, IaC ensures that security measures are applied uniformly across your entire environment. Whether you're deploying resources in the cloud or on-premises, you can enforce security best practices with precision and confidence. From access controls and encryption settings to network segmentation and compliance requirements, IaC enables you to codify security at every layer of your infrastructure stack.

What role does infrastructure as code play in Qualys TotalCloud 2.0?

As part of the Qualys TotalCloud ecosystem, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security is an essential tool that plays a pivotal role in orchestrating and managing digital infrastructure with unparalleled efficiency and precision. By integrating seamlessly with Qualys TotalCloud 2.0, IaC Security empowers users to automate the provisioning, configuration, and management of resources across multi-cloud environments.

Imagine having the ability to define your infrastructure requirements using simple, declarative code and then having that code automatically translate into tangible resources in the cloud. That's precisely the role Qualys IaC Security plays within the Qualys TotalCloud platform. Whether you're deploying virtual machines, configuring networks, or managing security policies, IaC Security streamlines the entire process, reducing manual effort and eliminating the risk of human error.

IaC Security is an integral part of Qualys TotalCloud™ 2.0 – an AI-powered CNAPP solution.

With Qualys IaC Security, security and IT teams can scan their IaC templates for early visibility to prevent misconfigurations across their cloud deployments. It integrates seamlessly with the CI/CD toolchain, including:

  • Supports Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, and Azure ARM
  • Provides real-time assessments of cloud misconfigurations to DevOps teams through integration with GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and Azure Repo
  • Integration with CI/CD such as Azure DevOps and Jenkins
  • Integration with IDE such as Visual Studio Code

Qualys IaC Security fosters consistency and repeatability in infrastructure deployments, ensuring that every environment is configured to exact specifications every time. This consistency not only enhances operational efficiency but also strengthens security posture by reducing the likelihood of misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.

In essence, Qualys IaC Security serves as a catalyst for innovation and agility, enabling organizations to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives while maintaining control and compliance. Whether you're a seasoned cloud expert or just beginning your journey, the IaC tool empowers you to harness the full potential of cloud computing with confidence and ease.

Find out more about cloud security.


In conclusion, infrastructure as code emerges as a transformative approach to IT infrastructure management, promising efficiency, agility, and scalability. By treating infrastructure deployments as code, organizations can unlock a new realm of possibilities, streamlining operations and accelerating innovation.

With a diverse array of tools at their disposal and a host of benefits to reap, the journey towards embracing infrastructure as code is one well worth undertaking. So, equip yourself with the tools and knowledge needed to embark on this exciting journey and witness firsthand the power of infrastructure as code in shaping the future of IT operations.