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Best Infrastructure as Code Tools Shortlist

Here are my top 12 Infrastructure as Code tools for different uses, evaluated on scalability, security, and other key features.

  1. Terraform - Best for managing infrastructure across multiple cloud platforms
  2. Pulumi - Best for infrastructure resource management
  3. Amazon Web Services (AWS) CloudFormation - Best for managing AWS infrastructures
  4. Packer - Best for creating machine images
  5. Ansible - Best for infrastructure automation
  6. Space Lift - Best for growing teams
  7. Puppet - Best for large teams
  8. Azure Resource Manager - Best for managing Azure resources
  9. Chef - Best for managing infrastructure at scale with ease
  10. Crossplane - Best for managing resources across multiple cloud providers

To streamline your infrastructure management, consider using Infrastructure as Code tools for benefits such as automated configuration, enforced consistency, decreased security risks, and increased productivity.

What are Infrastructure as Code Tools?

Infrastructure as Code tools set up infrastructure resources such as networks and virtual machines through configuration files. This is in contrast to legacy methods, in which teams would manually set up physical servers and virtual machines and provision cloud computing.

By using code-based deployment of infrastructure, IaC enables automatic deployment instead of manual deployment, saving setup time. The use of code for the infrastructure layer also enables infrastructure versioning, akin to versioning in source code elsewhere.

Another major advantage of IaC is that it simplifies your network by enforcing consistency. This helps you avoid “snowflake” environments in which individual machines diverge into unique configurations over time. Because the IaC code runs the same way every time you execute it, you can remove system inconsistencies and keep every instance the same, which simplifies other tasks like troubleshooting and application deployment.

Overviews of the 12 Best Infrastructure as Code Tools

Here’s my take on the top 10 Infrastructure as Code tools, highlighting key features of each to help you easily select the right IaC solution for your IT environment and business goals.

1. Terraform - Best for managing infrastructure across multiple cloud platforms

Infrastructure as Code tool Terraform's workflow showing write, plan, and apply stagesAlt tag: IaC tool Terraform's write, plan, and apply stages
Terraform is a powerful tool when it comes to infrastructure management. (Source)

Terraform is one of the most popular IaC tools, and for good reason. It supports nearly every major provider and has plenty of integration options while simplifying the infrastructure management process.

Why I picked Terraform

I selected Terraform because of its streamlined process for defining infrastructure using a human-readable configuration language. This lets you describe the end-state of your infrastructure without having to worry about the step-by-step details. I also loved that it’s cloud-agnostic, giving your team the flexibility to work with any provider.

Terraform Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include a declarative language to deploy and manage your infrastructure efficiently. State management means you can track your infrastructure changes so they're consistent over time.

Integrations include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Docker, Ansible, Kubernetes, and more.

Pricing: From $0.00014 per hour per resource

Trial: Free plan available


  • Multi-cloud support across various cloud platforms
  • Provides flexibility in terms of scalability
  • Ability to deploy infrastructure quickly


  • No graphical user interface; command line interface only
  • Complex documentation and steep learning curve

2. Pulumi - Best for versatility

Using Pulumi as an IaC tool for deployment
Pulumi is a versatile option that will work well with a lot of infrastructure environments (Source)

Pulumi allows you to use the programming language you’re most familiar with since it supports a wide selection of languages. Pulumi is great for managing many aspects of infrastructure, such as resource provisioning and configuration management.

Why I picked Pulumi

Pulumi stood out to me because of its versatility of available programming languages. The option to use a familiar language reduces your learning curve and eases the transition from traditional software development to infrastructure provisioning. I was also impressed by the real-time preview feature, which lets you visualize the changes before applying them to your infrastructure.

Pulumi Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include support for programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, and Go. Building blocks and reusable architectures are available to speed deployment. The number of resource providers offered by Pulumi is also quite high.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Kubernetes, and Amazon Web Services. It also integrates with various CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, and GitHub Actions. Additionally, there’s integration with automation tools like Ansible.

Pricing: $1 per 2,000 credits

Trial: Free plan available


  • Flexible choice for programming language
  • Provides a good experience for developers - interactive debugging
  • Manages infrastructure components such as Cloud resources, databases, serverless functions


  • Lack of documentation in some areas
  • Smaller community and support structure compared to more established tools

3. AWS CloudFormation - Best for managing AWS infrastructure

How provisions are managed with IaC tool AWS CloudFormation
AWS CloudFormation is the ideal choice for managing AWS resources. (Source)

AWS CloudFormation specializes in managing AWS infrastructure resources. It uses declarative formatting templates and stack management, which help with consistently managing your infrastructure.

Why I picked AWS CloudFormation:

AWS CloudFormation stood out to me with its highly customizable templates. It makes the deployment and management processes much simpler by using JSON or YAML templates, so manual provisioning isn’t needed. I also liked how dependency and stack management further simplify infrastructure management processes.

AWS CloudFormation Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include support for various types of AWS resources. AWS cloud formation lets you preview how stack changes affect your resources, helping you make more informed decisions. Dependency management provides automatic management of dependencies between resources during stack management actions.

Integrations include Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, Amazon VPC, and others. Integration with AWS developer tools includes AWS CodePipeline and CodeDeploy.

Pricing: Custom pricing model depending on resources used

Trial: Free plan available


  • Resource management becomes automated
  • Supports a lot of different AWS resource types
  • Helps with infrastructure cost optimization


  • Provides unclear error messages
  • It may not be ideal for managing resources across multiple cloud platforms

4. Packer - Best for creating machine images

IaC tool Packer's registry
Packer has its own take on infrastructure by using machine images. (Source)

Packer isn’t like other Infrastructure as Code tools. It creates machine images, which then define your infrastructure. Packer allows you to develop tailor-made machine images for different environments, as it supports multiple builders.

Why I picked Packer:

Packer stood out to me from other tools for its unique approach to rapid infrastructure deployment using machine images. Additionally, Packer is relatively easy to learn and start using. I chose Packer since it's quite flexible, as it allows you to configure the software and dependencies in your machine images.

Packer Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include parallel builds, so you can easily create nearly-identical images deployed in different environments. Packer’s template files to give you granular control over the build process. Additionally, the plug-in system allows you to add additional features via integrations.

Integrations include Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Packer can integrate with Cisco, Datadog, RedHat, ServiceNow, GitHub, MongoDB, and Terraform. Image builder integrations include Docker and VMware.

Pricing: From $0.007 per hour

Trial: Free plan available


  • Integrates with a variety of tools
  • Multi-platform support
  • Quick infrastructure deployment with machine images


  • No image management is available
  • Only a command-line interface is available

5. Ansible - Best for infrastructure automation

IaC tool Ansible's network automation diagram
Ansible emphasizes automating infrastructure, combined with simplicity. (Source)

Automation is the one word that sums up Ansible. It’s the tool to look at if you want to use a single control surface to manage complex infrastructure and streamline workflows, with automations for common functions like system configuration and software deployment.

Why I picked Ansible:

I think Ansible shines because of its orchestration capabilities, which help you manage workflows that would be complicated otherwise. Moreover, I was impressed with how Ansible allows you to automate the deployment of applications across multiple servers.

Ansible Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include infrastructure automation for hybrid cloud, edge, and network servers. It also provides security automation to protect your infrastructure from potential threats. Ansible’s agentless architecture means it doesn’t require software on target systems, which makes the management process easier.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Other integrations include Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins, GitLab, Jenkins, AppDynamics, and many more.

Pricing: $5,000 per year

Trial: Free plan available


  • Simple to use
  • Can automate many aspects of infrastructure
  • Great for businesses of all sizes wanting to scale


  • Changes don’t take effect in real-time
  • Advanced features can be difficult to get used to

6. Spacelift - Best for growing teams

IaC tool Spacelift's integrations diagram showing cloud providers and tools
Spacelift is a simple way for growing teams to manage their infrastructure, providing various integration options. (Source)

For growing teams that need an user-friendly Infrastructure as Code tool, look no further than Spacelift. Spacelift provides a refined experience with an intuitive user interface, making the process of infrastructure management more accessible to a wider range of users.

Why I picked Spacelift

Spacelift caught my attention both for its usability and its flexibility. It supports automated infrastructure builds and can enforce consistent guardrails across endpoints, as well as offering infrastructure testing features. I also appreciated how Spacelift can help apply the CI/CD processes to your infrastructure layer.

Space Lift Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include support for multiple IaC providers, granular access controls, drift detection capability and audit controls. Moreover, Spacelift can handle interdependencies between projects using a declarative automation layer.

Integrations include Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Spacelift integrates with other tools such as Terraform, Pulumi, CloudFormation, Kubernetes, and Ansible. Source control integrations include Github, Bitbucket, Azure DevOps, and more.

Pricing: $250 per month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Highly customizable
  • Has monitoring capabilities
  • The user interface is easy to use


  • Limited customization
  • Relies on cloud providers’ APIs and services

7. Puppet - Best for large teams

IaC tool Azure Resource Manager diagram
The Puppet dashboard simplifies managing complex infrastructures. (Source)

Puppet was specifically designed for automating complex infrastructures. Combined with its range of integrations and cross-platform support, Puppet is great for larger teams that need a powerful tool to deal with their vast collection of assets and interdependencies.

Why I picked Puppet

I was drawn to how Puppet uses its own declarative language to simplify complex infrastructure management. It can manage large-scale infrastructures with its optimized communication protocols. I found that the wealth of automation tools helped speed deployment securely and at scale.

Puppet Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include idempotency, which means you can run the same configuration multiple times without worrying about negative effects on the entire system. Puppet has cross-platform support, including Windows and Linux, making it good for managing infrastructure across various platforms.

Integrations include Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Puppet also supports integration with Satellite, VMware, F5, and others. Integration with version control tools like Git is also an option.

Pricing: Pricing available upon request

Trial: Free plan available


  • Great for automating infrastructures with large environments
  • Supports integration with a lot of tools
  • Cross-platform support


  • Puppet may not be suitable for growing teams and infrastructures
  • It can be difficult to set up initially

8. Azure Resource Manager - Best for managing Azure resources

Azure Resource Manager diagram showing it manages Azure resources/services
Azure Resource Manager handles various Azure resources and services. (Source)

Azure Resource Manager manages all your Azure resources and services in one place. It routes input from multiple tools and requests through a single API, to deliver consistent management from a central control set. The ability to deploy and monitor assets collectively saves time versus manual individual resource management.

Why I picked Azure Resource Manager:

If your infrastructure uses the Azure cloud environment, then this is the tool for you. Its template-based deployment caught my eye, as it makes provisioning infrastructure environments easier. I also liked the resource tagging feature it provides to track and monitor resources.

Azure Resource Manager Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include resource deployment, including templates with version control, making it easier to manage your resources. Tagging features assist with resource management, and dependency definition ensures resources are deployed in the correct order.

Integrations include various Azure services like Azure Storage, Azure Networking, and Azure App Service. There’s also the option for integration with Azure DevOps.

Pricing: Custom pricing model depending on resources used

Trial: Free plan available


  • Great way to manage a range of Azure resources
  • Integration with full suite of Azure services
  • Multi-language support


  • Some aspects are complex to learn
  • Limited to Azure resources

9. Chef - Best for managing infrastructure at scale with ease

Development, testing, and deployment diagram for IaC tool Chef
Chef infrastructure deployment diagram. (Source)

For infrastructure management at scale, Chef offers tools and automations to stream configuration, monitoring, and deployment. Suitable for on-prem, cloud, or hybrid environments, Chef is a simple yet effective way for you to manage large, complex infrastructures.

Why I picked Chef:

When I was evaluating this tool, I focused primarily on its ability to manage large environments, with an impressive suite of automations, testing tools, version control, and dependency management. Chef’s role-based access control helps you strengthen security. Additionally, I liked that it uses Ruby, which gives it a relatively simple learning curve.

Chef: Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include cross-platform support, so you can manage infrastructure resources using operating systems such as Windows and Linux. Chef uses Chef DSL (Domain-Specific Language), which provides more freedom in exactly how you want to manage your infrastructure.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Other tools that integrate with Chef include CoreStack, Blackfire, Stormforge, Resolve, Cutover, and more.

Pricing: From $72/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Good at handling large infrastructures
  • Able to deal with risks and security issues well
  • Can automate the deployment process


  • It may not be suitable for smaller environments and growing teams
  • Documentation can be unclear at times

10. Crossplane - Best for managing resources across multiple cloud providers with one tool

IaC tool Crossplane workflow
Crossplane simplifies infrastructure management across multiple cloud providers. (Source)

Managing resources across multiple cloud providers is typically a complicated process, but Crossplane provides a simplified approach in unique fashion–by allowing you to customize your own control plane, tailored specifically to your needs.

Why I picked Crossplane

Crossplane struck me as an unique platform, with its control-plane-centered focus. This means you can optimize it for your own workflows and business needs. Crossplane manages infrastructure across almost any cloud service provider using the Kubernetes API, which makes integrations a snap. I’d recommend investigating this one for anyone taking a multi-cloud approach to your infrastructure.

Crossplane Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include orchestration for applications and infrastructure. Declarative configuration reduces the need for writing code and simplifies the process of infrastructure management. Role-based access controls provide security and customization.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. As Crossplane is a Kubernetes API, it integrates with any Kubernetes-compatible system–meaning nearly anything in the cloud-native ecosystem. Other integrations include GitHub, GitLab, Anthos, Rancher, Equinix, OpenShift, and Alibaba Cloud.

Pricing: Available for free

Trial: n/a


  • Effective at managing infrastructure resources across multiple cloud providers
  • Developer-friendly
  • Has drift detection to maintain your infrastructure


  • Community support might be lacking as it’s a newer tool
  • The number of integrations is lacking compared to other tools

11. Brainboard - Best for teams who focus on collaboration

Using Brainboard's visual infrastructure creation dashboard for IaC
Brainboard infrastructure creation dashboard. (Source)

Brainboard is a cloud infrastructure builder, but with a twist: It has a visual and interactive dashboard to reduce the need for using code to build your infrastructure. Brainboard can help your team visualize workflows and tools, to more easily collaborate when building your infrastructure.

Why I picked Brainboard

Brainboard is a unique tool that caught my eye and stood out from the others. It simplifies the process of building infrastructure with a visual builder to work with the underlying Terraform code. If you want to reduce learning curve and enable collaboration, Brainbord can help enable a low-code approach for your team members.

Brainboard Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include pre-made templates for popular cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Moreover, Brainboard allows you to import code and generate Terraform code.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Brainboard integrates with GitHub, GitLab, Docker, Azure DevOps, Bitbucket, Hashicorp Vault, and others.

Pricing: From $99/user/month

Trial: 21-day free trial


  • Simplifies the cloud infrastructure design process
  • Can convert projects into reusable templates for future use
  • Great tool for teams who want to focus on collaboration


  • Only able to generate Terraform code
  • Newer tool - community support is more limited

12. SaltStack - Best for managing and provisioning infrastructure resources

Infrastructure management dashboard for IaC tool SaltStack
Saltstack dashboard showing iteration time, minion presence, and salt events. (Source)

Saltstack focuses on automation to speed the infrastructure management process. Its Python API makes it a user-friendly tool. If you’re looking to start automating your infrastructure quickly, Saltstack could be the tool for you.

Why I picked SaltStack:

I particularly liked that Saltstack is language agnostic, so you can use familiar languages. SaltStack is a newer tool but relatively user-friendly, with detailed documentation available. It simplifies the infrastructure management process with features such as remote execution.

Saltstack Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include remote management, which allows Saltstack to execute multiple commands in seconds. Saltstack also has fault tolerance, which means the system can keep running even in the case of an error.

Integrations include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Other integrations include Jenkins, Digital Ocean, ServiceNow, HelixSwarm, Tenable, Docker, and more.

Pricing: From $150 per machine per year

Trial: Free plan available


  • Highly flexible for managing infrastructure
  • Simple programming interface with Python API.
  • Ensures data is secure with an encrypted protocol


  • Limited operating system choices
  • Fewer Integrations compared to other tools

Other Options

I came across a couple of other highly beneficial Infrastructure as Code tools that are worth having a look at, even if they didn’t make the cut for the top 10 list:

  1. CFEngine - Best for speed and performance
  2. NixOs - Best for reproducible results across machines
  3. (R)?ex - Best for Perl developers

Selection Criteria for Infrastructure as Code Tools

Here’s are the selection and evaluation criteria I used to narrow down my selections for best Infrastructure as Code tools:

Core Functionality

I started by looking at Infrastructure as Code tools that had core functionalities like:

  • Automating infrastructure deployment, configuration, and management tasks
  • Scaling your infrastructure resources up or down
  • Granular control of infrastructure configurations
  • Consistent results in delivering the desired environment

Key Features

Here are a few other necessary features needed to deliver the core functionalities listed above:

  • Declarative syntax: This allows you to define infrastructure resources as code in a structured way, based on the endpoints you wish to reach. This increases readability and reduces human error.
  • Version control: Infrastructure commonly goes through a lot of changes over time. Version control allows you to track your changes and even revert to a previous version if needed.
  • Multi-cloud management: This feature allows you to use the Infrastructure as Code tools to manage multiple cloud providers, increasing flexibility and scalability.


I chose the best value-for-money tools to ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment. Some tools provide a free and enterprise edition, with the enterprise edition providing numerous features that aren’t available in the free version. Other tools have a pay-as-you-go model, where you only pay for the resources you use.


I’ve looked for tools that scale with your infrastructure. I took note of which tools are better at scaling up with multiple cloud providers, and which are more specialized for scaling with a particular resource type.


For this criteria, I’ve looked for features such as granular access controls to help reduce the number of unauthorized actions, as well as the ability to enforce any relevant compliance and security settings at the infrastructure level.


Infrastructure as Code tools require an API to integrate other external systems, enabling you to create more holistic workflows and processes. Because IaC tools are used in a cloud-native ecosystem, they should engage well with all of your existing and future platforms.

People Also Ask

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about Infrastructure as Code tools:

Finding the right tool

Infrastructure as Code tools have changed how teams run their infrastructure, but that doesn’t make it easy to choose the right one. A large enterprise might find more value in the robust offerings of an established provider, while a budget-strapped startup may prefer to look at free, open-source options. Consider each tool listed in this article, and decide which best suits your needs based on their strengths. There are plenty of great IaC options on the market, and I hope this list helps you narrow down your choices.

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By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.