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Atlas vs Terraform: What are the differences?

Introduction

Atlas and Terraform are both popular infrastructure as code (IaC) tools, but they have some significant differences in terms of their features and functionality. In this article, we will explore six key differences between Atlas and Terraform.

  1. Collaboration and Version Control: One major difference between Atlas and Terraform is the approach to collaboration and version control. Atlas provides a platform for teams to collaborate and manage their infrastructure code. It includes features like access control, approval workflows, and version history. In contrast, Terraform focuses on the infrastructure provisioning aspect and integrates with version control systems like Git for collaboration and versioning.

  2. Cloud Providers Support: Another important difference is the level of support for different cloud providers. Atlas is specifically designed to work with HashiCorp's own cloud platform, HashiCorp Cloud Platform (HCP). It provides tight integration and seamless deployment for infrastructure provisioned using Terraform. On the other hand, Terraform supports a wide range of cloud providers, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and many more.

  3. Integration and Deployment: Atlas offers built-in integration and deployment capabilities, allowing users to easily deploy their infrastructure code to the cloud. It provides features like environment management, rollbacks, and notifications. Terraform, on the other hand, primarily focuses on the provisioning of infrastructure and relies on external tools and scripts for deployment and integration.

  4. Complexity and Flexibility: Atlas aims to simplify the infrastructure provisioning process by providing a user-friendly interface and additional features like module registry and stack visualization. It is particularly suitable for teams with limited infrastructure management experience or those looking for a more guided approach. Terraform, on the other hand, offers more flexibility and granular control over infrastructure provisioning. It allows users to define infrastructure as code using its declarative language, HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL), providing greater customization options.

  5. Pricing: When it comes to pricing, there is a difference between Atlas and Terraform. Atlas is a commercial product and has a pricing model based on usage and team size. The cost is determined by factors such as the number of deployments, number of team members, and usage of additional features. Terraform, on the other hand, is an open-source tool and completely free to use. Users are only responsible for the costs associated with the cloud resources they provision using Terraform.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: Lastly, the community and ecosystem around Atlas and Terraform are different. Terraform has a large and active community of users and contributors, with a vast collection of community modules and providers. This extensive ecosystem makes it easier to find and reuse existing infrastructure code and integrations. While Atlas has a dedicated user base, its ecosystem may not be as extensive as Terraform.

In summary, Atlas and Terraform have differences in terms of collaboration and version control, cloud providers support, integration and deployment capabilities, complexity and flexibility, pricing, and community and ecosystem. These differences can help users decide which tool best fits their specific infrastructure provisioning needs.

Decisions about Atlas and Terraform
Julien Fouilhé

It was important for us to use IaC from the very beginning, since we'll be deploying multiple components to multiple environments, and we want those environments to be easily replicated.

While the pragmatic choice would have been the widely used Terraform, we decided to go with Pulumi, which offers a more familiar syntax to describe your infrastructure (the language of your choice, in our case, Typescript). It also has an interesting built-in way of hiding your secrets for you, which makes managing secrets securely a breeze compared to Terraform.

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Hendrik Halkow

Terraform provides a cloud-provider agnostic way of provisioning cloud infrastructure while AWS CloudFormation is limited to AWS.

Pulumi is a great tool that provides similar features as Terraform, including advanced features like policy and cost management.

We see that Terraform has great support in the cloud community. For most cloud services we use, there is an official Terraform provider. We also believe in the declarative model of HCL, which is why we chose Terraform over Pulumi. However, we still keep an eye on Pulumi's progress.

Ansible is great for provisioning software and configuration within virtual machines, but we don't think that Ansible is the right tool for provisioning cloud infrastructure since it's built around the assumption that there is an inventory of remote machines. Terraform also supports more services that we use than Ansible.

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Kirill Shirinkin
Cloud and DevOps Consultant at mkdev · | 3 upvotes · 145.6K views

Ok, so first - AWS Copilot is CloudFormation under the hood, but the way it works results in you not thinking about CFN anymore. AWS found the right balance with Copilot - it's insanely simple to setup production-ready multi-account environment with many services inside, with CI/CD out of the box etc etc. It's pretty new, but even now it was enough to launch Transcripto, which uses may be a dozen of different AWS services, all bound together by Copilot.

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Because Pulumi uses real programming languages, you can actually write abstractions for your infrastructure code, which is incredibly empowering. You still 'describe' your desired state, but by having a programming language at your fingers, you can factor out patterns, and package it up for easier consumption.

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Sergey Ivanov
Overview

We use Terraform to manage AWS cloud environment for the project. It is pretty complex, largely static, security-focused, and constantly evolving.

Terraform provides descriptive (declarative) way of defining the target configuration, where it can work out the dependencies between configuration elements and apply differences without re-provisioning the entire cloud stack.

Advantages

Terraform is vendor-neutral in a way that it is using a common configuration language (HCL) with plugins (providers) for multiple cloud and service providers.

Terraform keeps track of the previous state of the deployment and applies incremental changes, resulting in faster deployment times.

Terraform allows us to share reusable modules between projects. We have built an impressive library of modules internally, which makes it very easy to assemble a new project from pre-fabricated building blocks.

Disadvantages

Software is imperfect, and Terraform is no exception. Occasionally we hit annoying bugs that we have to work around. The interaction with any underlying APIs is encapsulated inside 3rd party Terraform providers, and any bug fixes or new features require a provider release. Some providers have very poor coverage of the underlying APIs.

Terraform is not great for managing highly dynamic parts of cloud environments. That part is better delegated to other tools or scripts.

Terraform state may go out of sync with the target environment or with the source configuration, which often results in painful reconciliation.

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I personally am not a huge fan of vendor lock in for multiple reasons:

  • I've seen cost saving moves to the cloud end up costing a fortune and trapping companies due to over utilization of cloud specific features.
  • I've seen S3 failures nearly take down half the internet.
  • I've seen companies get stuck in the cloud because they aren't built cloud agnostic.

I choose to use terraform for my cloud provisioning for these reasons:

  • It's cloud agnostic so I can use it no matter where I am.
  • It isn't difficult to use and uses a relatively easy to read language.
  • It tests infrastructure before running it, and enables me to see and keep changes up to date.
  • It runs from the same CLI I do most of my CM work from.
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Context: I wanted to create an end to end IoT data pipeline simulation in Google Cloud IoT Core and other GCP services. I never touched Terraform meaningfully until working on this project, and it's one of the best explorations in my development career. The documentation and syntax is incredibly human-readable and friendly. I'm used to building infrastructure through the google apis via Python , but I'm so glad past Sung did not make that decision. I was tempted to use Google Cloud Deployment Manager, but the templates were a bit convoluted by first impression. I'm glad past Sung did not make this decision either.

Solution: Leveraging Google Cloud Build Google Cloud Run Google Cloud Bigtable Google BigQuery Google Cloud Storage Google Compute Engine along with some other fun tools, I can deploy over 40 GCP resources using Terraform!

Check Out My Architecture: CLICK ME

Check out the GitHub repo attached

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Pros of Atlas
Pros of Terraform
    Be the first to leave a pro
    • 122
      Infrastructure as code
    • 73
      Declarative syntax
    • 45
      Planning
    • 28
      Simple
    • 24
      Parallelism
    • 8
      Well-documented
    • 8
      Cloud agnostic
    • 6
      It's like coding your infrastructure in simple English
    • 6
      Immutable infrastructure
    • 5
      Platform agnostic
    • 4
      Extendable
    • 4
      Automation
    • 4
      Automates infrastructure deployments
    • 4
      Portability
    • 2
      Lightweight
    • 2
      Scales to hundreds of hosts

    Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

    Cons of Atlas
    Cons of Terraform
      Be the first to leave a con
      • 1
        Doesn't have full support to GKE

      Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

      - No public GitHub repository available -

      What is Atlas?

      Atlas is one foundation to manage and provide visibility to your servers, containers, VMs, configuration management, service discovery, and additional operations services.

      What is Terraform?

      With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.

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      What companies use Terraform?
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