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Everything as code: embracing the codified evolution

Everything as code
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Everything as code (EaC) is a mindset shift, from repetitive and error-prone manual operations to using software development best practices across the whole of IT.

Essentially, everyone who works in IT becomes a software developer of sorts, using a universal language to communicate, share information, and make improvements. 

In this blog, we take a look at the EaC evolution and explore the benefits getting onboard can bring.

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What is everything as code?

The practice of EaC is where policy files govern all aspects of software development, delivery, and management. It extends most organisations’ scalable and repeatable approach to app development – where processes are defined, codified, and then followed automatically – to other IT components, such as infrastructure and configuration. 

EaC can be declarative or imperative. The declarative approach lets you describe the end result you’re trying to achieve while the imperative approach defines a series of steps that need to be taken to achieve it. EaC takes the tedium out of performing these tasks, reduces the risk of human error, and makes auditing much easier. It ensures that the way infrastructure is managed benefits from the same big wins – like version control, accountability, automation, predictability, and consistency – that software already does.

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What’s all the fuss about?

There are three reasons EaC has truly taken off. First, tool vendors have started to take it seriously, embracing an EaC-first approach to how they configure and deploy their products. While many public cloud services can be managed through a web user interface, they’re designed to be managed using code as well.

The second is the trend towards common configuration formats, namely YAML or JSON, which makes it much easier for users to follow one language and framework to manage all their tools. 

And third, is the simple fact that you can use it to build and manage an entire app delivery pipeline – one single approach for all the tools you need.

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The everything evolution

EaC is not brand new – in fact, it's been around for a while in more niche forms, even if you know it by another name. Infrastructure as code (IaC), configuration as code (CaC), and pipelines as code (PaC), for example, are all off-shoots of this fundamental approach. Let’s take a quick look at all three.

Infrastructure as code

You’ve probably heard of IaC. It’s the management of infrastructure (such as networks, virtual machines, and load balancers) whereby devs and ops write files that define an environment in code, i.e. how infrastructure is set up. That code is then supplied to IaC tools that create, apply, and verify those infrastructure definitions automatically, so the same environment can be created every time. 

It’s more common to use a declarative approach to IaC than an imperative approach. The former means that a definition file will explain the end result, the what, of the environment, rather than the latter, which would describe the how – a step-by-step method of how to achieve it. Why is this the preferred approach? Because it means the middle ‘how’ bit is more flexible, so the infrastructure can take advantage of optimised techniques; and it keeps technical debt to a minimum.

Configuration as code

Where IaC is concerned with the underlying infrastructure that supports an app’s environment, CaC refers to using code to manage specific app configuration settings, such as users, files, services, and permissions. There are several ways you might implement CaC, from creating environments-specific configurations to using configurations for secrets management. And it usually goes hand in hand with IaC, for example, some configurations will be part of the infrastructure process.

Pipelines as code

PaC is all about defining deployment pipelines – such as configuring builds, tests, and deployment – using code. A PaC definition file will specify the stages, jobs, and actions a pipeline needs to perform. Before PaC, auditing was tricky and collaboration between developers non-existent. PaC has made it easier to troubleshoot problems within the Pipelines and rollback to previous versions when required.

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How can everything as code help?

Now you’re up to speed on some of the key components of EaC, here are the key benefits you could realise for your organisation by embracing it:

Highly repeatable

EaC means IT teams no longer need to perform tedious tasks manually. Not only does this save considerable time, allowing them to focus on more high-value work, it improves morale and employee satisfaction.

Scale operations easily

Your developers and IT engineers want to work more efficiently, and EaC makes that possible. They can scale their operations by reusing configuration files and tools across large-scale environments.

Reduce the risk of human error 

When everything is defined as code, there’s no underlying worry that an engineer will forget to do something or make an accidental error. Compliance officers can rest easy knowing everything is peer reviewed, predictable and consistent.

Make auditing easier

You can use your EaC configurations to understand what was done to your systems, increasing efficiency and effectiveness of security teams.

Limit dependencies

Because different employees will use the same tools and processes across IT, knowledge is more widely shared and your resource pool becomes more flexible as a result. And if someone decides to leave, your whole operation isn’t impacted.

Trace your steps

Version control across the board means it’s easy to store and keep track of any changes, wherever they are. Then if something goes wrong, you can identify the source of the problem quickly and rollback to a previous version.

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We take care of everything

Embracing EaC requires a major shift – legacy workflows can’t keep up with the speed of the cloud – and you might feel like there’s a lot of catching up to do.If you want to face that challenge head on and deliver better software, faster, you’re going to need best-in-class technologies and the expertise to help you implement and integrate them into your organisation. 

At Adaptavist, we build DevOps toolchains based on your business’s individual ambitions and needs. Wherever you’re at in your codification journey, we can provide a maturity assessment, training, consultancy, strategy and implementation, as well as the integration solutions to set you on course. 

Our partnerships with leading technology providers, including as an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, GitLab Select Channel Partner and Professional Services Certified Partner, and AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, give you peace of mind knowing we’re qualified to get the job done.

Get everything on track with everything as code and Adaptavist.

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About the authors

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla is a DevOps subject matter expert, and an experienced solutions expert and App developer. Jobin has several certifications under his belt, including Atlassian products, GitLab certified PSE, AWS, Kubernetes, Jenkins to name a few, and has spearheaded implementing Digital Transformation for teams and enterprises.