Getting Started with Terraform: Managing AWS EC2 Instances the Cloud-Native Way

In the world of cloud-native technologies, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has revolutionized the way we manage and provision resources. Among the plethora of tools available, Terraform stands out as a powerful and versatile option for defining and provisioning infrastructure across different cloud providers. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to use Terraform to manage AWS EC2 instances and dive into some best practices for maintaining your infrastructure codebase.

What is Terraform?

Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, is an open-source IaC tool that allows you to define your cloud resources in configurations files using its own domain-specific language (DSL). These configuration files can then be used to create, update, and manage infrastructure resources in a consistent and reproducible manner.

Why Use Terraform?

Using Terraform offers several advantages:

  • Consistency: Define your infrastructure using code, which ensures that your environment is consistent across different stages (development, testing, production).
  • Reusability: Create reusable modules to standardize infrastructure components.
  • Version Control: Store your infrastructure code in version control systems like Git, making it easier to track changes and collaborate with your team.
  • Multi-Cloud Support: Manage infrastructure across multiple cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) with a single tool.

Getting Started with Terraform

We'll walk through the steps to create an AWS EC2 instance using Terraform.

1. Install Terraform

First, install Terraform by following the instructions on the official Terraform website.

2. Configure AWS Credentials

Ensure that you have your AWS credentials configured. You can do this by setting up the ~/.aws/credentials file or by exporting the credentials as environment variables:

export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=your_access_key_id
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=your_secret_access_key

3. Write the Terraform Configuration

Create a new directory for your Terraform project and create a file named with the following content:

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-west-2"

resource "aws_instance" "example" {
  ami           = "ami-0c55b159cbfafe1f0"
  instance_type = "t2.micro"

  tags = {
    Name = "ExampleInstance"

output "instance_id" {
  value =

4. Initialize Terraform

Navigate to your project directory and run:

terraform init

This command initializes the project and downloads the necessary provider plugins.

5. Apply the Configuration

To create the EC2 instance defined in your configuration file, run:

terraform apply

Terraform will show you a plan of what it intends to do. Type yes to confirm and apply the changes.

6. Verify the Instance

Once the apply process is complete, you can verify that the EC2 instance has been created by checking the AWS Management Console or by using the AWS CLI:

aws ec2 describe-instances --instance-ids $(terraform output instance_id)

7. Clean Up

When you no longer need the instance, you can clean up the resources created by Terraform with:

terraform destroy

Again, Terraform will show a plan of what will be destroyed. Type yes to confirm.

Best Practices for Using Terraform

Adopting some best practices can help you maintain a clean and manageable Terraform codebase:

  • Use Modules: Break down your configuration into reusable modules. This promotes modularity and reusability.
  • State Management: Use remote backends (like S3 for AWS) for storing Terraform state files to enable collaboration and maintain consistency.
  • Version Control: Keep your Terraform configurations in a version control system like Git. This helps track changes and facilitates team collaboration.
  • Plan Before Applying: Always run terraform plan before applying changes. This lets you review what will be modified, created, or destroyed.
  • Output Values: Use output values to extract information about your infrastructure resources that can be used by other modules or systems.


Terraform is a powerful tool that enables you to define and manage your cloud infrastructure in a consistent and repeatable way. By following best practices and effectively organizing your Terraform codebase, you can enhance your productivity and maintain a robust infrastructure. Start using Terraform today to take control of your cloud environment, and share your experiences or questions in the comments below!