Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools (Pros and Cons)

Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools. With automation at the centre of all DevOps processes it is crucial to have the right automation tools. Automating tasks reduces manual processes and increases efficiency. Besides, you can manage configurations on thousands of resources.

First of all Terraform is a handy automation tool that helps in infrastructure provisioning. It’s an infrastructure as code tool used to configure changes in your on premise or cloud infrastructure. Other than Terraform, there are lots of IT automation tools you can count on on for various operations and management processes.

This article discusses some of the best Terraform alternatives for infrastructure management. 

Let’s start Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools. Read on!

Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives

1. Ansible

First tool on our list of Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives is Ansible. Firstly a configuration management tool. Additionally an excellent alternative for Terraform. Used to automate software development. Particularly used to create apps, make patches and perform automatic updates. 

Also Ansible has modules to connect with your projects. Besides, this tool is agentless. That means you don’t have to install it on the agent to execute tasks.

Features of Ansible

Pros of Ansible

Cons of Ansible

  • Complex data structures.
  • Insufficient user interface.
  • Limited windows support.

2. Puppet

Puppet is an excellent Terraform alternative for server management, configuration and installation. Additionally you can consistently orchestrate changes across production, development and testing environments. With Puppet, you automate configuration on containers, virtual machines, bare metal servers and cloud deployments.

With Puppet Enterprise version there is a code manager and orchestrator. What it does it let’s you move your infrastructure to a continuous delivery pipeline. Additionally helps to define configurations and apply them to multiple machines. Therefore, you don’t have to manually change systems or run similar scripts multiple times.

Features of Puppet

  • Support for macOS X, Windows and Linux.
  • Uses DSL declarative language.
  • Written in Ruby.
  • Infrastructure as code provisioning.

Pros of Puppet

  • Provides real time insights into the state of your infrastructure.
  • You can test changes before deploying them.
  • Easy to fix syntax errors.
  • Has a large community that provides good support.
  • Fast deployment times.

Cons of Puppet

  • Does not have comprehensive reporting features.
  • Has a steep learning curve for non developers.

3. Chef

Third automation tool on our list is Chef.  Primarily you can accelerate your DevOps journey. Moreover it allows users to define infrastructure by simply writing code. Evidently this tool reduces manual and repetitive tasks for infrastructure management.

Following that Chef automation stack has three main components:

  • Infra- for infrastructure automation.
  • InSpec- for security and compliance automation.
  • Habitat- for application automation.

So it helps automate both on premise systems and cloud infrastructure. Also manages various nodes, including network devices, virtual machines, servers and containers. Ideally, Chef is designed to help IT admins and developers deploy applications faster.

Features of Chef

Here are some of the features that make Chef a highly desirable automation tool: 

  • Uses LDAP/SAML access control solutions.
  • Built in compliance assets.
  • Actionable insights at any scale.
  • Pull and Push configuration management.

Pros of Chef

  • Has a large and active community support.
  • Integrates seamlessly with cloud platforms such as Amazon EC2, GCP, Azure, and OpenStack.
  • Supports multiple platforms, including Ubuntu, Denial, Windows, OS X, CentOS, and FreeBSD.
  • Wide variety of built in features for analytics, compliance management and monitoring.
  • Allows users to share cookbooks either on Chef supermarket or GitHub.

Cons of Chef

  • Lacks comprehensive documentation.
  • Operating Chef cookbooks is complicated.
  • It has a steep learning curve if you are not familiar with Ruby.

4. SaltStack

SaltStack is a Terraform alternative for managing infrastructure management. Altogether ideal for managing configurations on both cloud and on premise servers.

Above all SaltStack supports agent based and agentless environments. You can choose whether to install software on the agent or manage configurations through Salt SSH.  All in all SaltStack uses a central repository for all automation processes. Further SaltStack automates repeated tasks. Eliminates manual processes and reduces chances of error.

Features of SaltStack

  • Parallel execution model.
  • Configuration files, file types and templating engines that support multiple languages.
  • Scalable configuration management that uses infrastructure as data approach.
  • Fault tolerant architecture.
  • Event driven execution.
  • AES encryption for data security.
  • Built on ZeroMQ networking library.
  • Remote execution engine.

Pros of SaltStack

  • Simple programming interface.
  • Easy to set up and manage the different servers.
  • Has load balancing capabilities.
  • Access control system to manage how users can execute tasks.
  • Fast and lightweight communication.

Cons of SaltStack

  • It does not have a feature rich GUI.
  • Initial set up can be complicated.

5. Azure Automation

Fifth on the list of Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives is Azure Automation. By comparison another excellent Terraform alternative for automating resource management. Furthermore it is a cloud based tool. It delivers consistent infrastructure management for both Azure and non Azure environments. Also this tool offers comprehensive automation for mundane and repetitive tasks. Even more it helps in managing infrastructure and applications consistently throughout their entire lifecycle.

Features of Azure Automation

  • Role based access control.
  • Supports source control integration.
  • Support for Windows, Linux  and on premise servers.
  • Orchestration of processes using PowerShell and Python runbooks.

Pros of Azure Automation

  • Has a set of change tracking and inventory tools to keep track of changes to Windows and Linux virtual machines.
  • Pay as you go pricing model ensures you pay only for what you need.
  • Seamless integration with other Azure workloads.
  • Improves reliability in your cloud environment.

Cons of Azure Automation

  • Poor data encryption.
  • Limited documentation.

6. CloudFormation

Further there is CloudFormation. AWS native tool for modelling, provisioning and managing AWS and third party resources. Indeed AWS CloudFormation is a cloud automation solution and an infrastructure as code. Use simple text files to automatically model and provision the resources you need. Basically CloudFormation deploys resources to AWS resources in a repeatable, auditable and testable manner.

Besides CloudFormation enables you to automate the configuration of resources. They run on AWS, such as EC2 Instances, S3 storage and IAM. Equally important is the fact that CloudFormation is designed to enable AWS users to perform simple configuration and deployment on their cloud environment.

Features of CloudFormation

  • Authoring with JSON/YAML.
  • Extensibility to monitor third party resources such as Splunk, Sysdig, Datadog, MongoDB and more.
  • Cross region and cross account management.
  • Safety controls using CloudWatch and ChangeSets.
  • Automatic management of dependencies.

Pros of CloudFormation

  • Provides easy control and tracking of changes to your infrastructure.
  • Configure changes instantly using a single template.
  • Allows easy scaling of your infrastructure.
  • Allows you to apple configurations repeatedly.
  • Enables configurations on both AWS and supported third party resources.
  • YAML is easy to use and configure.
  • Intuitive GUI.

Cons of CloudFormation

  • Not useful for other cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Google GCP.
  • Has a limit of five hundred resources per template.
  • Documentation has a steep learning curve.

7. Pulumi

In addition another automation tool is Pulumi. An infrastructure as code tool that enables users to write infrastructure configurations using top programming languages such as Python, Go, C#, JavaScript, and TypeScript. As a result, it lets you choose the preferred language to author infrastructure configurations.

With Pulumi, there are two main ways to make infrastructure configurations. Firstly you can run the Pulumi Automation API from a developer machine. Secondly you can use the Pulumi command line interface (CLI) to integrate it into a CI/CD platform. Alternatively the Automation API has an interface that runs programs without the CLI. Ideally, it envelopes the functionality of the CLI with more flexibility.

Features of Pulumi

  • Build for every cloud platform.
  • Policy as code automation.
  • State and secrets management.
  • Open source and enterprise ready.
  • Support for multiple applications.
  • IDE support.

Pros of Pulumi

  • Does not have a DSL, hence excellent collaboration between development and operations.
  • Has great built in testing capabilities.
  • Use Pulumi to deploy resources to the cloud from a local device.
  • Provides multiple ways to reach the desired state when writing code in different language.

Cons of Pulumi

  • Limited documentation.
  • Issues with code duplication.

8. Packer

Comparatively Packer is an automation tool for creating virtual images in cloud and on premise environments. With packer, you don’t have to take manual steps to create a virtual machine image. Rather you can automate the process using a simpler Packer config template. This template declares the desired state of your VM image. Afterwards Packer builds the virtual machine for you.

As noted Packer is easy to use and makes great alternative to Terraform. Besides, Packer is high performing, lightweight and runs on major operating systems.

Features of Packer

  • Immutable infrastructure for CI/CD pipeline.
  • Virtual machines patching.
  • Automatic image updates across pipelines.
  • Multi cloud support.

Pros of Packer

  • Integrates seamlessly with Terraform.
  • Provides reliable continuous delivery.
  • Can configure virtual machines in seconds.
  • Has plugins that extend its functionality.

Cons of Packer

  • You have to manage images on your own using tags.

9. Jenkins

Equally we have also Jenkins. Another automation server that you can rely on to build, deploy and automate any development process. Open source CI/CD tool used to speed up development and testing in the SDLC. Use Jenkins to automate application creation, testing and deployment. At the same time Jenkins operates through pipelines.  Interestingly there is a series of steps the server takes to perform the required CI/CD processes.

Additionally Jenkins provides plugins to orchestrate test automation and CI/CD pipelines. These plugins extend Jenkins’s capabilities. Also they enable integration with almost every tool designed for CI/CD processes.

Features of Jenkins

  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery.
  • Packages for macOS, Windows, Unix and Linux operating systems.
  • Open source and free.
  • Supports for all major cloud platform.
  • Master agent architecture.

Pros of Jenkins

  • Integrate Jenkins with any source management tool.
  • Easy to install, manage and troubleshoot.
  • Plugins make Jenkins adaptable to changes in IT environments.
  • Ready to run out of the box.
  • Quickly discover and fix bugs in your infrastructure and applications.

Cons of Jenkins

  • You cannot customize Jenkins plugins.
  • Initial steep learning curve due to complex configurations.

10. Attune

Last on our list Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools is Attune. Based on Python, Attune is one of the best alternatives to Terraform. Equally it is cross platform tool compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS. Particularly enables provisioning, patching and automation of builds. Deployments are done on both virtual and physical servers. Besides, you can also use Attune to automate security and compliance.

Features of Attune

  • Portable and sharable procedures.
  • Full stack orchestration.
  • Cross platform automation solution.
  • Executes scripts written in Python, Bash, Execute SQL, or Perl.
  • Agentless architecture.
  • Multi server coordination.
  • Advanced file generator.

Pros of Attune

  • Reduces delivery time by automating repetitive tasks.
  • Modern and highly intuitive architecture.
  • Robust error and log capturing features.
  • Self help dashboard enables simple configurations.

Cons of Attune

  • It does not have an extensive community support.

Thank you for reading Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools.

Top 10 Best Terraform Alternatives for Automation Tools Conclusion

Having a great automation tool enables you to streamline infrastructure management. They speed up builds and deployments. Additionally increase the efficiency of your workflows. The above Terraform alternatives not only speed up development processes but also create a collaborative culture in your organization. Therefore, choosing the best automation tool that suits your DevOps processes is ideal.

Read our blog for more Terraform tips like these!

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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