A Beginner's Guide to Terraform and Pulumi

If you're new to the world of cloud infrastructure management, you've probably heard of Terraform and Pulumi. These two tools are extremely popular for automating the deployment, management, and scaling of cloud infrastructure. But what are they, exactly, and how do they work?

In this beginner's guide to Terraform and Pulumi, we'll give you an overview of both tools and discuss some of their key features and benefits. Whether you're a seasoned cloud infrastructure pro or a complete beginner, this guide will get you up to speed and help you make informed decisions about which tool is best for your needs.


Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code (IaC) tool developed by HashiCorp. It allows you to define your infrastructure in a declarative language (HCL) and then translate those definitions into executable code. This means you can automate the provisioning, configuration, and management of your cloud infrastructure, all while maintaining version control over your infrastructure code.

Terraform supports a wide variety of cloud providers, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and many more. And because it's open source, you can customize it to fit your specific needs and workflows.

How Terraform works

Terraform works by creating a plan for your infrastructure based on the HCL definitions you provide. It does this by first parsing your HCL code to create a high-level representation of your infrastructure resources. It then uses that representation to build a graph of dependencies between resources, which it can use to determine the order in which resources should be created or updated.

Once Terraform has this plan, you can confirm whether or not it accurately reflects your desired infrastructure state. If it does, you can apply the plan to create, update, or destroy resources. Terraform then keeps track of the state of your infrastructure and can automatically update it as necessary to maintain the desired state.

Key features of Terraform

Some of the key features of Terraform include:


Pulumi is another IaC tool that allows you to define and manage your cloud infrastructure in code. The key difference between Pulumi and Terraform is that Pulumi uses general-purpose languages (such as JavaScript, Python, and Go) to define infrastructure, rather than a specific domain-specific language like HCL.

Because Pulumi uses general-purpose programming languages, it allows for more flexibility and expressiveness in defining infrastructure. However, this comes at the cost of increased complexity and decreased standardization, as infrastructure code can start to look like traditional application code.

How Pulumi works

Like Terraform, Pulumi works by defining infrastructure in a declarative way. However, rather than using HCL, Pulumi uses general-purpose programming languages. Pulumi then translates those definitions into cloud-specific API calls which create, update, or destroy resources as necessary.

One of the unique aspects of Pulumi is that it offers a cloud-agnostic abstraction layer, which allows you to write infrastructure code that can be deployed to any cloud provider. This means you can avoid being locked into a specific provider and instead choose the provider that best fits your needs.

Key features of Pulumi

Some of the key features of Pulumi include:

Choosing between Terraform and Pulumi

Both Terraform and Pulumi are powerful tools for managing cloud infrastructure as code. However, which one you choose depends on your specific needs and preferences.

If you're looking for a tool that's easy to learn, has a wide selection of pre-built modules and providers, and offers a domain-specific language for defining infrastructure, Terraform is a great option.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a tool that offers more flexibility in defining infrastructure, with the ability to use general-purpose programming languages, and offers a cloud-agnostic abstraction layer, Pulumi might be a better fit.

Ultimately, the decision between Terraform and Pulumi comes down to your own personal preferences, as both tools have their own strengths and weaknesses.


In this beginner's guide to Terraform and Pulumi, we've given you an overview of both tools and discussed some of their key features and benefits. While Terraform and Pulumi have some similarities, they also have some key differences, which can make one more suitable for your needs.

Whether you're looking to automate the deployment of cloud infrastructure, maintain version control over your infrastructure code, or avoid vendor lock-in, both Terraform and Pulumi have something to offer. We hope this guide has helped you understand the basics of these tools and given you the information you need to make an informed decision.

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