Tolga Talks Tech is a weekly summer video series in which Onica’s CTO Tolga Tarhan tackles technical topics related to AWS and cloud computing. This week Tolga talks about immutable infrastructure through Packer for VM images with Onica’s Engineering Director, Oren Maor.  For more videos in this series, click here.

To build immutable infrastructure, we often need virtual machines images to deploy into the environment. What’s a favorite tool in the community to do that?

One of the favorite tools in the community is Packer. What Packer does is it creates different images across different platforms, for example, VM Ware, AWS and other tooling. It automates the launch, provisioning, and snapshot cycle for creating images in these different platforms.

How does Packer make those things easier?

It simplifies a lot of the steps. It removes a lot of complexity and allows you to do things like copy between regions, encrypting, or copying other accounts. Things we’d normally have to orchestrate ourselves Packer is able to take care of for us.

What does provisioners mean in the Packer ecosystem?

Provision is a way of installing software configuration on these images from the beginning to the end of the build cycle. There’s a number of provisioners such as Shell scripts, as well as legacy tools such as Puppet and Chef.

Those tools are normally considered heavyweight config management tools. Are they used differently in Packer?

We try to stay away from Chef and Puppet servers. Instead we’re using these scripts to build out our infrastructure as utility tools where normal scripts don’t have the complexity to build them out. So where we might use a Shell script in the provision, we might use Chef because of the more sophisticated way to express what we’re going to build out, but it’s only used in that provisioning cycle.

Ideal cloud environments are stateless and immutable — allowing the rebuilding of the production environment without harming existing environments and with nearly zero downtime. Want to learn more about immutable infrastructure and other cloud computing best practices? Read our 6 Principles that Drive Cloud Computing Success article.
Tolga Tarhan

About Tolga Tarhan

As Onica’s Chief Technology Officer, Tolga Tarhan leads the technological vision of the company by pushing innovation and driving strategy for our product development and service offerings. With nearly two decades of experience leading and hands-on software development, his cross-functional expertise across different technology areas gives him unique insight into the best approaches for building complex systems and applications. In addition to facilitating technology on the executive level, Tolga has also successfully led numerous deployments involving web-based, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and real-time telecommunications applications. His passion for IoT in particular has driven Onica’s achievement of the AWS IoT competency, and he continues to show thought leadership in the field through his extensive speaking engagements at AWS events and educational groups across North America. Tolga also holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and helps customers strategize beyond technology solutions to improve their businesses and grow their bottom line.