CloudFormation vs Terraform – The final showdown

December 28, 2021

iauro Team

Contributing immensely to the global software solutions ecosystem. DevOps | Microservices | Microfrontend | DesignThinking LinkedIn

Infrastructure as code is a big buzz in the IT industry right now, and when it comes to IaC, Terraform vs CloudFormation is a hot topic of discussion. Terraform and CloudFormation are both called infrastructure-defining software that helps your IT team deliver and manage your infrastructure using a variety of tools. Infrastructure automation is one of the foundations of implementing DevOps practices in your project.

When asked about the best tools for automating infrastructure provisioning, two common names come to mind: Terraform and AWS CloudFormation. This blog discusses the various aspects of Terraform and CloudFormation in detail.

Amazon CloudFormation is a fantastic tool that gives developers and operators the ability to easily automate the provisioning of AWS infrastructure. It is an AWS Managed Service that allows you to develop and deliver AWS and third-party resources for your cloud environment. Configuration is handled by CloudFormation using JSON templates. This allows the user to reuse and scale the infrastructure. This templates can also be in YAML format.

Terraform is an open- source result that lets you develop structure as law. It’s a important tool that helps workers work in IT, provision, update and maintain structure. It’s a completely JSON-biddable language that helps DevOps professionals define structure as law.

Terraform vs CloudFormation
The first question that comes to our mind is why do we need tools like Terraform and CloudFormation when we formerly have configuration operation tools like Ansible and Puppet? These CM tools can handle nearly all system configurations. What if the stoner needs to maintain a subcaste of abstraction between the underpinning bare essence factors and services. In similar cases, two important tools come to the deliverance-CloudFormation and Terraform.

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of Terraform and CloudFormation:

Ease of use

While CloudFormation is limited to the services offered by AWS, Terraform covers several cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and many more.


CloudFormation uses JSON or YAML. This makes CloudFormation easier to read and manage. However, there is a limitation that prevents AWS developers from creating CloudFormation templates larger than 51MB. If a template exceeds this size limit, developers need to create a nested stack for templates.

On the other hand, Terraform uses its own HashiCorp language called HCL (HashicCorp Configuration Language). It is also JSON-compliant language.

State Management

Because CloudFormation is an AWS Managed Service, it checks the infrastructure sequentially to determine if the provided infrastructure is maintaining its state or not. CloudFormation will receive a detailed response if something changes.

On the other hand, Terraform stores structure state on a provisioning machine, be it a virtual machine or a remote machine. The state is saved as a JSON train, which serves as a chart for Terraform describing the coffers it manages. To epitomize, in CloudFormation, the state is governed by CloudFormation out of the box, which prevents disagreeing changes. In Terraform, the state is stored on a original fragment, which helps keep the state in sync. Another stylish practice for state operation is that Terraform countries can also be persisted to storehouse services like S3. This should be defined on the aft end, making operation easier and further secure.


The best part about both of these tools is that they are both free. Both of these tools have large communities with lots of support and examples. CloudFormation has no price tag. The only charge users bear is the cost of the AWS service provided by CloudFormation.

Terraform is a free and open-source tool. However, Terraform offers a paid enterprise version with additional collaboration and management capabilities.

Integration with multiple clouds

Still, Terraform is for you, If you want to give services across multiple pall platforms. While Terraform supports all pall service providers similar as AWS, GCP, Azure, and numerous further, CloudFormation is only limited to AWS. So, if your terrain includes multiple pall deployments, CloudFormation isn’t for you. Let’s say you’re using AWS coffers like EC2, S3, etc, your stylish bet is to use CloudFormation.

For compatibility with AWS, the latest version of Terraform now fully supports all AWS services. This version of Terraform matches the CloudFormation tier for managing AWS cloud resources.
What is the difference between Terraform and CloudFormation?
It’s critical to understand where and how these two IaC results fit into your infrastructure.

Let’s talk about Terraform first.

Terraform integrates with the standard CI/ CD channel. Terraform plays an important part in the continous deployment channel where it’s responsible for provisioning cases in an Amazon ECS cluster. Terraform also snappily launches up to three resemblant Dev, UAT, and Prod surroundings in the script over.

CloudFormation basically consists of four stages:

  1. Coding: This is the code that is defined as the CloudFormation template.
  2. This template can be saved in any code repository. In this scenario, the template is saved in an S3 bucket.
  3. AWS CloudFormation is then used through the AWS CLI or browser console to create a stack.
  4. The end result of the template is provisioning as infrastructure stacks in the AWS Cloud.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for updates