Terraform and azure

Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Arnav Sharma

Terraform is an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool by HashiCorp that enables you to define and provision infrastructure using a high-level configuration language. It allows you to create, update, and manage Azure resources in a consistent and repeatable manner. This guide will help you get started with Terraform on Azure.


Before you begin, ensure you have the following:

  1. Azure Account: An active Azure subscription.
  2. Terraform Installed: You can download Terraform from the official website.
  3. Azure CLI Installed: You can download the Azure CLI from the official website.

Step 1: Install Terraform and Azure CLI


  • Download the Terraform binary from the Terraform website.
  • Extract the downloaded file and move it to a directory included in your system’s PATH.

Azure CLI:

Step 2: Authenticate with Azure

Use the Azure CLI to authenticate your Terraform configuration.

az login

This command opens a web browser where you can sign in with your Azure credentials.

Step 3: Create a Service Principal

A Service Principal is an identity created for use with applications, hosted services, and automated tools to access Azure resources.

az ad sp create-for-rbac --name terraform --role="Contributor" --scopes="/subscriptions/{your-subscription-id}"

Replace {your-subscription-id} with your actual Azure subscription ID. This command will output JSON containing appIddisplayNamepassword, and tenant. Save this information securely, as you’ll need it for Terraform configuration.

Step 4: Understanding Providers

In Terraform, a provider is a plugin that Terraform uses to interact with APIs of cloud providers, SaaS providers, and other services. Providers enable Terraform to manage and provision resources. Each provider has its own configuration and set of resources.

How to Find Providers

You can find providers on the Terraform Registry. The registry contains information about various providers, including the Azure provider, AWS provider, and many others. To find a specific provider:

  1. Go to the Terraform Registry.
  2. Use the search bar to find a provider (e.g., type “Azure” to find the Azure provider).
  3. Click on the provider to see its documentation, including available resources, data sources, and configuration options.

Step 5: Finding Terraform Code Examples

To find Terraform code examples for specific Azure resources, using the Azure Resource Manager, you can:

  1. Terraform Registry: Browse the Terraform Registry. Each provider page often includes example configurations for various resources.
  2. GitHub: Search for Terraform repositories on GitHub. Many users and organizations share their Terraform configurations. Use keywords like “Terraform Azure” to find relevant repositories.
  3. Official Documentation: The Terraform documentation and the Azure Provider documentation provide detailed examples and usage instructions.
  4. Community Blogs and Tutorials: Many community members share their experiences and configurations through blogs and tutorials. A quick web search for “Terraform Azure example” will yield numerous results.

Step 6: Set Up Terraform Configuration

Create a new directory for your Terraform configuration files and navigate into it.

mkdir terraform-azure 

cd terraform-azure

Create a file named main.tf and open it in your favorite text editor. Add the following configuration to define the Azure provider, create a resource group, and deploy a storage account:

# main.tf

provider "azurerm" {
  features {}

  subscription_id = "<your-subscription-id>"
  client_id       = "<your-appId>"
  client_secret   = "<your-password>"
  tenant_id       = "<your-tenant-id>"

resource "azurerm_resource_group" "example" {
  name     = "example-resources"
  location = "East US"

resource "azurerm_storage_account" "example" {
  name                     = "examplestoracct"
  resource_group_name      = azurerm_resource_group.example.name
  location                 = azurerm_resource_group.example.location
  account_tier             = "Standard"
  account_replication_type = "LRS"

  tags = {
    environment = "Terraform Demo"

Replace <your-subscription-id><your-appId><your-password>, and <your-tenant-id> with the values obtained from the Service Principal creation step.

Step 7: Initialize Terraform

Initialize your Terraform configuration to install the necessary plugins.

terraform init

Step 8: Plan and Apply the Configuration

Use the terraform plan command to create an execution plan and ensure the configuration is correct.

terraform plan

If the plan looks good, apply the configuration to create the resource group and storage account in Azure.

terraform apply

Terraform will prompt you to confirm the action. Type yes to proceed.

Step 9: Verify the Deployment

Log in to the Azure Portal and navigate to “Resource Groups” to see the newly created resource group named example-resources and the storage account named examplestoracct.

Step 10: Clean Up Resources

To avoid incurring costs for resources you no longer need, use the terraform destroy command to remove the resources.

terraform destroy

Terraform will prompt you to confirm the action. Type yes to proceed.


FAQ: Terraform Azure

Q: How can I use Terraform on Microsoft Azure?

To use Terraform on Microsoft Azure, you need to configure Terraform to interact with the Azure cloud. This involves using the AzureRM provider to manage infrastructure resources such as virtual machines, resource groups, and more.

Q: What is the role of a service principal in Terraform on Azure?

A service principal in Terraform on Azure is used to authenticate and manage Azure resources programmatically. It allows Terraform to interact securely with Azure services.

Q: What are the next steps after setting up Terraform on Azure?

The next steps after setting up Terraform on Azure include writing Terraform configuration files, initializing your Terraform environment, and deploying your infrastructure.

Q: How do you manage infrastructure as code with Terraform?

To manage infrastructure as code with Terraform, you write declarative configuration files that describe the desired state of your infrastructure. Terraform then automates the creation and management of these resources.

Q: How can Azure DevOps be integrated with Terraform?

Azure DevOps can be integrated with Terraform to automate the deployment and management of infrastructure. This is done using Azure pipelines to define continuous integration and continuous deployment workflows.

Q: What is the purpose of environment variables in Terraform?

Environment variables in Terraform are used to set configuration values that are required for Terraform to authenticate and manage resources. This includes credentials and other sensitive information.

Q: How do you deploy a resource group in Azure using Terraform?

To deploy a resource group in Azure using Terraform, you need to create a Terraform configuration file that defines the resource group, then run terraform initterraform plan, and terraform apply commands to create the resource group.

Q: What is the significance of the Azure provider in Terraform?

The Azure provider in Terraform, also known as the AzureRM provider, is a plugin that allows Terraform to interact with Azure services. It is essential for managing Azure infrastructure using Terraform.

Q: How can you validate your Terraform configuration?

You can validate your Terraform configuration using the terraform validate command, which checks the syntax and configuration of your Terraform files to ensure they are correct before deployment.

Q: What are some common use cases for HashiCorp Terraform on Azure?

Common use cases for Terraform on Azure include deploying virtual machines, managing Kubernetes clusters with AKS, automating infrastructure changes, and integrating with Azure DevOps for continuous integration and deployment.

Q: How do you initialize a Terraform environment?

To initialize a Terraform environment, you use the terraform init command, which prepares the working directory by downloading the necessary provider plugins and setting up the backend configuration.

Q: What is the role of a developer in managing infrastructure with Terraform?

A developer’s role in managing infrastructure with Terraform includes writing and maintaining Terraform configuration files, automating deployments, and ensuring the infrastructure is provisioned and managed according to best practices.

Q: How can Docker be used with Terraform on Azure?

Docker can be used with Terraform on Azure by containerizing your Terraform configuration and running it within a Docker container. This helps in standardizing the environment and dependencies for Terraform.

Q: What is the purpose of a pipeline in Terraform?

A pipeline in Terraform, particularly within the context of Azure DevOps, is used to automate the process of infrastructure deployment and management, ensuring continuous integration and continuous deployment practices are followed.

Q: How does Terraform handle infrastructure changes?

Terraform handles infrastructure changes by comparing the current state of the infrastructure with the desired state defined in the configuration files, facilitating automation in the management of Azure resources. It then creates an execution plan to apply the necessary changes to achieve the desired state.

Q: What are the benefits of using infrastructure-as-code with Terraform?

The benefits of using infrastructure-as-code with Terraform include improved consistency, repeatability, and scalability of infrastructure deployments. It also enables better version control and collaboration among teams.

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