Elevating IaC Workflows with Spacelift Stacks and Dependencies 🛠️

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Terraform

Top 10 Terraform Enterprise Alternatives for 2024

terraform-enterprise-alternatives

As Infrastructure as Code (IaC) becomes increasingly popular, Terraform has emerged as a key tool inside the ecosystem. Managing Terraform at scale has always been an issue and that’s why HashiCorp created a platform for it: Terraform Enterprise (TFE).

What is Terraform Enterprise?

Terraform Enterprise is an advanced IaC tool designed for businesses to safely and efficiently manage their infrastructure. It enables collaborative infrastructure management across teams, leveraging Terraform’s powerful capabilities within a secure, private environment. 

It includes the following key features:

  • Self-hosted
  • Private registry for modules and providers
  • Policies for implementing guardrails
  • Audit logs
  • Drift detection
  • Integrations through Run Tasks
  • RBAC
  • And others

Terraform Enterprise limitations

Terraform Enterprise’s biggest limitation is that it can only manage your Terraform code — although it can manage Terragrunt through a workaround. So, if you want to leverage OpenTofu, a custom Terraform binary, or other IaC tools such as Pulumi, Cloudformation, K8s, etc, Terraform Enterprise will not cut it.

In addition, Terraform Enterprise is limited to the integrations it supports for Run Tasks. This means that you won’t be able to integrate a tool you are currently using that is not supported by a Run Task.

Also, TFE does not have a mechanism for passing outputs from one configuration to another without writing terraform code for it.

Another limitation is related to its cost, which may be prohibitive for smaller teams or projects. The complexity it introduces could make it an overkill for simpler infrastructure deployments.

Read more: Best Terraform Cloud alteratives.

Best Terraform Enterprise alternatives

Some platforms can be considered Terraform Enterprise alternatives. In this guide, we’ve considered direct alternative platforms that are self-hosted and also offer Terraform management natively, as well as indirect alternative platforms that don’t check both boxes:

  1. Spacelift
  2. Atlantis
  3. Jenkins
  4. GitHub Actions
  5. Azure DevOps
  6. Env0
  7. Scalr
  8. GitLab CI/CD
  9. Morpheus
  10. Azure Automation

1. Spacelift

Spacelift is an IaC management platform that helps you build end-to-end workflows for Terraform, OpenTofu, any custom Terraform binary, Terragrunt, Pulumi, CloudFormation, Ansible, and Kubernetes.

spacelift tfe alternative

With Spacelift you can integrate with any tool you want, bring your own image, and control what happens before and after all runner phases, making it the most flexible IaC management platform available.

Apart from that, Spacelift’s policies can be leveraged for much more than plan and approval levels. With these policies, you can also control access, set up the behavior a stack should have when a pull request is open or merged, control where to send notifications and where to see metric details, trigger other stacks, and more.

Spacelift also offers a mechanism to create dependencies between stacks, giving you the flexibility of sharing outputs between them, regardless of whether you are using a multi-IaC or single IaC workflow — if the IaC tool supports outputs, you can easily share them.

Spacelift gives you far more than Terraform Enterprise, at a fraction of the cost. The pricing is also predictable, so you won’t need to have a calculator by your side and check it daily to try and estimate your bill.

Read more here: Terraform Enterprise vs. Spacelift.

Spacelift Self-Hosted Terraform Enterprise
Predictable and Cost-effective Pricing Yes No
Multi-IaC Workflow Yes No
Dependencies Workflow Yes No
Integrations Unlimited integrations 🟠 Integrations limited to run tasks
Full-Workflow Control Full control over your workflow by bringing your image, modifying the default workflow, and hooks in runner phases Limited to what TFE lets you do
Policies across various decision points Control almost any aspect of the platform through policies 🟠 Only the equivalent of plan and approval policies
Resource Management Full inventory management solution including visualization, lifecycle tracking, search, and filtering 🟠 Resource view only per workspace
Targeted Runs Native 🟠 Only with the TF_CLI_ARGS_plan
Atlantis-style workflow Yes 🟠 Partial
Custom Tasks Yes No
Advanced Scheduling Yes No
State Management Managed + Optional ability to use other backends 🟠 Managed only

2. Atlantis

Atlantis is a Terraform management product designed to enhance the PR workflows for your Terraform projects. It is open-source and self-hosted only, meaning that you will have to install and configure it yourself. 

atlantis tfe alternative

The biggest advantage of Atlantis over Terraform Enterprise is that you will only need to pay for the infrastructure hosting it, but support generally depends on the community, so you may have a hard time with it overall.

To leverage Atlantis, you need to open a pull request on a repository that’s configured inside it. This will trigger an atlantis plan, which actually runs a terraform plan and writes the output on the pull request. Based on the output of the plan, you can receive feedback from peers, discuss potential issues and improvements, and ultimately approve or discard the plan.

If you approve the run, you can run atlantis apply via a PR comment, and this will actually run terraform apply and comment back the apply output on the PR.

Atlantis enhances your Terraform workflow, and gives you the flexibility to use it directly from your pull request workflow.

3. Jenkins

Jenkins is a self-hosted open-source automation server that primarily focuses on continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).

Jenkins terraform enterprise

Jenkins leverages the Groovy scripting language as the foundation for defining the pipelines. These pipelines are described using a domain-specific language (DSL) provided by Groovy and enable developers to script complex workflows more intuitively.

It offers a more developer-centric approach, enabling automated builds, tests, and deployments. This means that Its scope is different from Terraform Enterprise, which specializes in IaC, as with Jenkins you are usually building more application-related pipelines. That said, you can still use Jenkins to manage IaC, but you have some work to do in order to take advantage of workflows.

4. GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions integrates CI/CD directly into GitHub repositories, facilitating automation in software workflows. If you are using GitHub Enterprise, you can also self-host it.

tfe

Pipelines described in GitHub Actions use yaml, and these pipelines must reside in a .github/workflows folder. In addition, you can build your own reusable actions that can also be published in the GitHub Actions marketplace.

Whereas Terraform Enterprise focuses on IaC, GitHub Actions is more versatile for CI/CD across various programming languages and platforms, making it a flexible choice for developers already using GitHub. There is a GitHub Actions workflow available for Terraform, but you still need to tweak it to build your deployment automation.

5. Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps provides a suite of development tools for software teams, including CI/CD, boards, repositories, and testing services.

terraform enterprise

Similar to GitHub Actions and Jenkins, its scope is broader than Terraform Enterprise’s, covering both project management and application development, offering a more integrated solution for teams within the Microsoft ecosystem. 

With Azure DevOps, you can easily host your repositories, reuse pipelines, define stories and tasks for your work, integrate test cases, use the registry capabilities, and more.

Microsoft offers a guide on how to build our terraform workflow.

6. Env0

Env0 specializes in automated, collaborative remote-run workflows for IaC deployments, closely aligning with Terraform Enterprise’s domain but emphasizing simplicity and team collaboration. However, it doesn’t currently offer any self-hosted capabilities.

terraform tfe

It allows for custom IaC templates, making it a user-friendly alternative for teams seeking more control over their cloud environments.

7. Scalr

Scalr is an IaC cloud management platform that provides cost optimization, governance, and automation across cloud environments.

alternatives to terraform enterprise

While it supports IaC principles similar to Terraform Enterprise, Scalr focuses more on multi cloud cost management and compliance, offering a broader cloud management solution.

8. GitLab CI/CD

GitLab CI/CD is integrated into the GitLab platform, offering a single application for the entire software development lifecycle, from project planning and source code management to CI/CD. 

tfe alternatives

GitLab CI/CD offers seamless integration with GitLab repositories, using yaml to define CI/CD pipelines directly within your repository. This integration simplifies understanding and tracking the changes and workflows happening in your codebase. Like GitHub Actions, it provides a straightforward approach to automation, which encompasses the entire software development lifecycle.

As GitHub Actions, GitLab CI/CD serves a broader purpose compared to Terraform Enterprise, which is more focused on infrastructure management.

You can tweak this example Terraform workflow to fit your use case.

9. Morpheus

Morpheus is a cloud application management and orchestration platform designed to simplify the deployment, management, and monitoring of applications. 

morpheus alternative

It emphasizes self-service IT provisioning, enabling users to quickly spin up new applications and services with governance and cost controls in place, making it a comprehensive solution for enterprises looking to optimize their cloud operations.

While Terraform Enterprise specializes in IaC, Morpheus bridges the gap between IaC and application management, providing tools for cost optimization, governance, and self-service provisioning within a unified interface.

10. Azure Automation

Azure Automation delivers cloud-based automation and configuration services, focusing on automating cloud management tasks. 

tfe alternative

Azure Automation uses PowerShell and Python for writing runbooks, which automate processes and tasks. This allows leveraging PowerShell for comprehensive Windows environment management and Python for cross-platform capabilities, accommodating a wide range of automation scenarios within the Azure cloud ecosystem.

Unlike Terraform Enterprise’s broad IaC approach, Azure Automation is more narrowly tailored to the Azure platform, offering scripting and orchestration for Azure resources specifically.

Key points

Many platforms out there can be considered Terraform Enterprise alternatives, but not all can be self-hosted, specialize in IaC management, or offer a premium support level. The only one that checks all the boxes is Spacelift.

If you want to learn more about Spacelift and take your IaC management to the next level, create a free account or book a demo with one of our engineers to learn more.

The Best Terraform Enterprise Alternative

Spacelift [Self-Hosted] is a highly cost-effective Terraform Enterprise alternative that unlocks multi-IaC workflows for Terraform, OpenTofu, Terragrunt, Kubernetes, Ansible, AWS CloudFormation, and Pulumi.

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