Immutable Infrastructure

Why You Should Consider Moving to Immutable Infrastructure

Cloud-native computing is transforming the software development lifecycle, transforming the way we design and build applications. In doing so, it’s also changing how companies operate their data centers and infrastructure. With cloud-native computing comes immutable infrastructure, a key component of this new paradigm.

What is immutable infrastructure?

Immutable infrastructure is a specific implementation of continuous delivery that takes the “build-once, deploy-many” approach to computing to its logical conclusion: the server itself is treated as a disposable commodity that is completely replaced whenever something fails. Instead of fixing a broken server, IT teams take it offline, replace it with a new one, and then redeploy to the new server all of the application code and data that was running on the old server.

Why is immutable infrastructure important?

Immutable infrastructure is important for a few reasons. First, it’s an efficient use of resources: by treating servers as disposable and replacing them when they break, you avoid wasting money on repair costs and reducing your organization’s carbon footprint. Second, it allows you to run more efficiently and scale more quickly, since you don’t have to worry about adding capacity to existing servers or having to deal with bottlenecks caused by a few resource-intensive applications. In addition, immutable infrastructure can help you to implement reliable and automated application deployments, which can be a major challenge for many organizations.

How is immutable infrastructure implemented?

Immutable infrastructure, like all cloud native infrastructure, is implemented using a combination of automation and tooling, including containerization and virtualization. The idea is that you treat servers as a commodity and use tools to automate deploying new servers, removing broken servers, and then deploying new code to the new servers. You then deploy all of your applications to run in containers on the new servers. Let’s take a look at how this would work in practice. Say a single server in your data center breaks. Instead of trying to fix it, the server automatically gets marked as down. You then use automation to programmatically spin up a new server that’s a clone of the servers in your environment. You then deploy your applications, along with the data to run them, to the new server. This process can happen without any human intervention.

Limitations of Immutable Infrastructure

Immutable infrastructure is not a silver bullet and there are some limitations to be aware of. For one, the use of stateless applications and services is a must, as data must be stored in stateless containers that can be easily destroyed and rebuilt as needed. Immutable infrastructure can also create some challenges when it comes to testing, since you can’t rebuild the server with the broken code and fix the problem, you have to rely on a new build that was created from a different server.

When should you use Immutable Infrastructure?

Immutable infrastructure is most useful in complex environments that require high levels of scalability, such as internet-scale SaaS applications. It’s also a good idea to use immutable infrastructure if you want to implement continuous delivery or continuous deployment. You can also use immutable infrastructure for green field environments. However, if you’re using it in an existing environment, you’ll need to approach it with a different strategy because there will be existing servers that you can’t easily replace.