Google Cloud Platform in Action teaches you to build and launch applications that scale, leveraging the many services on GCP to move faster than ever. You’ll learn how to choose exactly the services that best suit your needs, and you’ll be able to build applications that run on Google Cloud Platform and start more quickly, suffer fewer disasters, and require less maintenance.
Purchase of the print book includes a free eBook in PDF, Kindle, and ePub formats from Manning Publications.
About the Technology
Thousands of developers worldwide trust Google Cloud Platform, and for good reason. With GCP, you can host your applications on the same infrastructure that powers Search, Maps, and the other Google tools you use daily. You get rock-solid reliability, an incredible array of prebuilt services, and a cost-effective, pay-only-for-what-you-use model. This book gets you started.
About the Book
Google Cloud Platform in Action teaches you how to deploy scalable cloud applications on GCP. Author and Google software engineer JJ Geewax is your guide as you try everything from hosting a simple WordPress web app to commanding cloud-based AI services for computer vision and natural language processing. Along the way, you’ll discover how to maximize cloud-based data storage, roll out serverless applications with Cloud Functions, and manage containers with Kubernetes. Broad, deep, and complete, this authoritative book has everything you need.
The many varieties of cloud storage and computing
How to make cost-effective choices
Hands-on code examples
Cloud-based machine learning
About the Reader
Written for intermediate developers. No prior cloud or GCP experience required.
About the Author
JJ Geewax is a software engineer at Google, focusing on Google Cloud Platform and API design.
Table of Contents
What is “cloud”?
Trying it out: deploying WordPress on Google Cloud
Infrastructure as code (IaC) is the process of managing and provisioning computer data centers through machine-readable definition files, rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. The IT infrastructure managed by this process comprises both physical equipment, such as bare-metal servers, as well as virtual machines, and associated configuration resources. The definitions may be in a version control system. It can use either scripts or declarative definitions, rather than manual processes, but the term is more often used to promote declarative approaches.
IaC grew as a response to the difficulty posed by utility computing and second-generation web frameworks. In 2006, the launch of Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud and the 1.0 version of Ruby on Rails just months before created widespread scaling problems in the enterprise that were previously experienced only at large, multi-national companies. With new tools emerging to handle this ever growing field, the idea of IaC was born. The thought of modelling infrastructure with code, and then having the ability to design, implement, and deploy applications infrastructure with known software best practices appealed to both software developers and IT infrastructure administrators. The ability to treat infrastructure like code and use the same tools as any other software project would allow developers to rapidly deploy applications.
Added value and advantages
The value of IaC can be broken down into three measurable categories: cost, speed, and risk. Cost reduction aims at helping not only the enterprise financially, but also in terms of people and effort, meaning that by removing the manual component, people are able to refocus their efforts towards other enterprise tasks. Infrastructure automation enables speed through faster execution when configuring your infrastructure and aims at providing visibility to help other teams across the enterprise work quickly and more efficiently. Automation removes the risk associated with human error, like manual misconfiguration; removing this can decrease downtime and increase reliability. These outcomes and attributes help the enterprise move towards implementing a culture of DevOps, the combined working of development and operations.
Types of approaches
There are generally two approaches to IaC: declarative (functional) vs. imperative (procedural). The difference between the declarative and the imperative approach is essentially ‘what’ versus ‘how’ . The declarative approach focuses on what the eventual target configuration should be; the imperative focuses on how the infrastructure is to be changed to meet this. The declarative approach defines the desired state and the system executes what needs to happen to achieve that desired state. Imperative defines specific commands that need to be executed in the appropriate order to end with the desired conclusion. 
There are two methods of IaC: ‘push‘ and ‘pull‘ . The main difference is the manner in which the servers are told how to be configured. In the pull method the server to be configured will pull its configuration from the controlling server. In the push method the controlling server pushes the configuration to the destination system.
There are many tools that fulfill infrastructure automation capabilities and use IaC. Broadly speaking, any framework or tool that performs changes or configures infrastructure declaratively or imperatively based on a programmatic approach can be considered IaC. Traditionally, server (lifecycle) automation and configuration management tools were used to accomplish IaC. Now enterprises are also using continuous configuration automation tools or stand-alone IaC frameworks, such as Microsoft’s PowerShell DSC or AWS CloudFormation.
Continuous configuration automation
All continuous configuration automation (CCA) tools can be thought of as an extension of traditional IaC frameworks. They leverage IaC to change, configure, and automate infrastructure, and they also provide visibility, efficiency and flexibility in how infrastructure is managed. These additional attributes provide enterprise-level security and compliance.
An important aspect when considering CCA tools, if they are open source, is the community content. As Gartner states, the value of CCA tools is “as dependent on user-community-contributed content and support as it is on the commercial maturity and performance of the automation tooling.” Vendors like Puppet and Chef, those that have been around a significant amount of time, have created their own communities. Chef has Chef Community Repository and Puppet has PuppetForge. Other vendors rely on adjacent communities and leverage other IaC frameworks such as PowerShell DSC. New vendors are emerging that are not content driven, but model driven with the intelligence in the product to deliver content. These visual, object-oriented systems work well for developers, but they are especially useful to production oriented DevOps and operations constituents that value models versus scripting for content. As the field continues to develop and change, the community based content will become ever important to how IaC tools are used, unless they are model driven and object oriented.
IaC can be a key attribute of enabling best practices in DevOps – Developers become more involved in defining configuration and Ops teams get involved earlier in the development process. Tools that utilize IaC bring visibility to the state and configuration of servers and ultimately provide the visibility to users within the enterprise, aiming to bring teams together to maximize their efforts. Automation in general aims to take the confusion and error-prone aspect of manual processes and make it more efficient, and productive. Allowing for better software and applications to be created with flexibility, less downtime, and an overall cost effective way for the company. IaC is intended to reduce the complexity that kills efficiency out of manual configuration. Automation and collaboration are considered central points in DevOps; Infrastructure automation tools are often included as components of a DevOps toolchain.
Relationship to security
The 2020 Cloud Threat Report released by Unit 42 (the threat intelligence unit of cybersecurity provider Palo Alto Networks) identified around 200,000 potential vulnerabilities in infrastructure as code templates.
In software engineering, software configuration management (SCM or S/W CM) is the task of tracking and controlling changes in the software, part of the larger cross-disciplinary field of configuration management. SCM practices include revision control and the establishment of baselines. If something goes wrong, SCM can determine what was changed and who changed it. If a configuration is working well, SCM can determine how to replicate it across many hosts.
The acronym “SCM” is also expanded as source configuration management process and software change and configuration management. However, “configuration” is generally understood to cover changes typically made by a system administrator.
Configuration control – Implementing a controlled change process. This is usually achieved by setting up a change control board whose primary function is to approve or reject all change requests that are sent against any baseline.
Configuration status accounting – Recording and reporting all the necessary information on the status of the development process.
Configuration auditing – Ensuring that configurations contain all their intended parts and are sound with respect to their specifying documents, including requirements, architectural specifications and user manuals.
Environment management – Managing the software and hardware that host the system.
Teamwork – Facilitate team interactions related to the process.
Defect tracking – Making sure every defect has traceability back to the source.
With the introduction of cloud computing the purposes of SCM tools have become merged in some cases. The SCM tools themselves have become virtual appliances that can be instantiated as virtual machines and saved with state and version. The tools can model and manage cloud-based virtual resources, including virtual appliances, storage units, and software bundles. The roles and responsibilities of the actors have become merged as well with developers now being able to dynamically instantiate virtual servers and related resources.
The history of software configuration management (SCM) in computing can be traced back as early as the 1950s, when CM (for Configuration Management), originally for hardware development and production control, was being applied to software development. Early software had a physical footprint, such as cards, tapes, and other media. The first software configuration management was a manual operation. With the advances in language and complexity, software engineering, involving configuration management and other methods, became a major concern due to issues like schedule, budget, and quality. Practical lessons, over the years, had led to the definition, and establishment, of procedures and tools. Eventually, the tools became systems to manage software changes. Industry-wide practices were offered as solutions, either in an open or proprietary manner (such as Revision Control System). With the growing use of computers, systems emerged that handled a broader scope, including requirements management, design alternatives, quality control, and more; later tools followed the guidelines of organizations, such as the Capability Maturity Model of the Software Engineering Institute.