Terraform vs Jenkins – What’s the Difference (Pros and Cons)

Terraform vs Jenkins – What’s the Difference (Pros and Cons). Previously, managing IT infrastructure was a relatively tough job. The configuration and management process of all the hardware and software were performed manually.

But, with the changing trends, a lot of things in the IT sectors also took a new turn. For example, the revolutionization of Cloud Computing to improve the way organizations are designing, developing, and maintaining their framework of IT.

Apart from this, the change has also brought “infrastructure as code” with itself. It started managing the infrastructure with the help of configurable files. There are multiple Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools available for the organization and we will talk about Terraform vs Jenkins as one of the best among them.

So, we have created a blog post that will provide you with differences between Terraform vs Jenkins and their pros and cons.

What Is Terraform?

Terraform is one of the Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools that enables you to manage, build and version your infrastructure using configuration files. This convenient tool assists in deploying various resources like physical servers, networking interfaces, load balancers on multiple platforms that include AWS, GCP, and Azure.

It replicates the same code in different environments to ensure that similar Infrastructure is applied everywhere.

Suppose you are working with Azure as your Cloud Service Provider. You want to spin up multiple EC2 instances of a specific type. So, you have to define that type and number in a configuration files that later will be used by Terraform to communicate with the API of Azure to create those instances. This same file will again be used for adjusting the configuration.

Terraform also constitutes modules that help you combine multiple infrastructure components into large, reusable, and shareable chunks. This way, you can not only have computed instances but also other components as well.

Terraform offers the following features to its users:

  • It is an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) which is management and configuarion of VM’s, databases and load balancers.
  • It contains a “planning step” where you create an executable plan.
  • It builds graphs for all your resources and parallelizes the creation and modification of non dependent resources.

Pros of Terraform

With our comparison of Terraform vs Jenkins let’s start with Terraform main pros.

Straightforward and efficient method of managing infrastructure. Terraform revolutionized DevOps with this tool that is open to any cloud service provider, thereby making the implementation process effortless.

Existing pipeline integration. Terraform can be triggered from within most continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) DevOps pipelines like Jenkins and Gitlab.

It provides a GUI to manage all the running services.

Flexibility. Terraform handles IaaS (AWS, Azure, GCP) but also PaaS (SQL, NodeJS). 

Declarative Code. While other Infrastructure as Code tools focus on provisioning, Terraform is considered a procedural tool. It means that there is no step by step process involved in reaching the desired state. It has a built in feature that informs and declares the tool of the changes required for the current state of the server.

Immutable. Any updates to the recent configurations are recorded as a new configuration, thereby removing the previous one. This way, the system remains safe from bugs and security threats.

Client Only Architecture. Terraform restricts you from having additional security checks and multiple configuration management servers. It conveniently uses the cloud provider’s API for provisioning the infrastructure.

Vast Handling. Terraform can not only be used as Infrastructure as a Service but also used as a Platform as a Service. You can store variables such as tokens and encrypted credentials in a Terraform Registry.

Documentation. The declarative language of Terraform is relatively straightforward. You can easily read and figure out the current configuration through documentation.

Cons of Terraoform

Difficult To Begin With Existing Stack. If you have a large stack, you are doomed to issue the “Terraform Import” command several times for every existing resource. It becomes very time consuming if you do not have ready scripting and automation.

Complicated State Modification. When you are refracting your infrastructure definition constantly, you may end up renaming resources or moving them deeper into modules. These changes become difficult for Terraform to follow. This way, it gets into a space where it is unaware of the misplacement of specific resources.

Precarious Conditional Logic. Terraform is not an actual imperative programming language. The conditional logic it provides is a bit uncertain.

Flickering Resources. Terraform is feature rich software that carries a large numbers of little errors that you might encounter while processing it. It is because it contains some unstable resources.

What Is Jenkins?

Jenkins is open source software written entirely in Java. This software assists you in executing numerous actions to achieve the continuous integration process in an automated structure.

It is a Continuous Integration (CI) server that runs in servlet containers like Apache Tomcat. It expedites continuous integration and delivery in software tasks. They do this by automating parts like building, testing and deploying. Thus, developers work continuously to improve the product effortlessly by integrating changes to the project.

With the help of Jenkins, developers get to know about the errors at the earliest stage. It is highly popular because of its sturdy Jenkins community. In a nutshell, it is not only extensible but also constitutes a thriving plugin system.

Jenkins offers the following features to its users:

  • Effortless installation.
  • Effortless configuration.
  • Changes set support.

Pros of Jenkins

  • Jenkins is a free and open source CI/CD tool with a massive community and its supports cluster to increase build performance.
  • For large scale projects, the Jenkins pipeline is considered to be extremely useful as it realizes CD requirements.
  • The software is managed by a large community and the software is regularly updated, new features added, security fixes and other enhancements.
  • It offers multiple types of Jobs and pipelines which makes automation easier. Jenkins server is amazingly flexible. 
  • It comprises a total of 320 plugins that makes the software sturdier and feature rich.  Plugin features include SSO for Jenkins.
  • It also supports a cloud based architecture that enables you to deploy Jenkin in a cloud based platform.
  • It is popular because it is created by developers for developers.

Cons of Jenkins

  • Jenkins UI needs updating. It doesn’t utilize the modern web technologies.
  • Does not provide a feature for backup and restore jobs.
  • Containers within containers for golang creates problems in dependency management.
  • It is difficult to install and configure.
  • Because of minor changes in the setting, continuous integration breaks regularly. It usually gets paused and needs some developers’ attention to get fixed.

Terraform vs Jenkins – What’s the Difference? Conclusion.

Terraform has the ability to manage a majority of the cloud infrastructure. Some developers love the tool because it is “Infrastructure as Code” and is ideal for organizations throughout their IT operations.

On the other hand, Jenkins is a build management software that is mainly used between the development and QA teams. It is used both as manual and automated builds. With it, the developers can work together and send a combined solution to the QA team. It is best for controlling versioning using its minor builds and patches.

Therefore, the selection entirely depends upon the needs of your organization.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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