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Pulumi vs. Terraform: How to Choose For Your Business

It's time to make the decision. Whether you've done your research or not, this guide will help you decide whether Pulumi or Terraform is right for you and your business. When it comes to your business, you want to make sure you have the right technology startup, and that it works for you. Before getting into what makes the two infrastructure as software tools different, here's a quick rundown of what makes them similar. Both tools allow the user to manage infrastructure as code on different cloud software providers. Both tools are widely used and have generally positive reviews from users. 

Whichever you choose, you're going to be using a quality product. But as far as getting in the weeds of what makes them different, there is a lot to unpack. Below is an examination of what makes Pulumi and Terraform different as well as some advice as to how to decide between the two tools.

What Makes Pulumi and Terraform Different

Pulumi and Terraform differ primarily in the language that each uses. Terraform uses one strict domain specific language, often seen abbreviated as a DSL. This domain specific language is called HashiCorp Configuration Language, named after the developer of Terraform, HashiCorp. What this means is that in order to learn to use Terraform, you must learn this custom language and master it in order to dig into complex functionalities on the tool. This learning curve can be an immediate red flag for some companies, so you must know that going into using Terraform you are entering an unfamiliar coding experience.

On the other hand, Pulumi uses what are usually referred to as general purpose languages. Popular general purpose languages are ubiquitous in the world of coding, such as Python, C#, and JavaScript. The benefits of being able to use languages you and your colleagues already know are easy to see. Pulumi is a platform that you would be able to trust in a way that everyone will be able to understand with its real languages and real code. With no new hoops to jump through, you can get right to work coding with Pulumi and with a solid understanding of what each job will entail. 

Terraform users often report having to look up many different functionalities, even after thinking they have mastered the language. This is a tool for building and developing in a safe and efficient way. While this is certainly doable, it does slow down your pace of work and your efficiency. In a nutshell, it complicates something that you don't have to worry about if you use Pulumi. To Terraform's credit, they do have a bit more of a robust and built-out documentation than Pulumi does. However, you are able to run both Pulumi and Terraform to get the best of both tools.

How to Decide Between Pulumi and Terraform

The bottom line in the Pulumi versus Terraform infrastructure as software tool debate, infrastructures in the public cloud are very complex and require lots of long hours becoming acquainted with how to operate within these environments. At the end of the day, you're going to want to use the tool that simplifies your work into the most understandable and efficient processes possible. If you think starting from scratch and learning the HashiCorp Configuration Language is for you, then go with Terraform. If you don't want to take the risk of learning a new coding language and want to stick with one you have already mastered, Pulumi should allow you more comfort and better chances to get right into your work. 

Pulumi and Terraform both offer some key advantageous features while also having a few drawbacks. These infrastructures can play a huge part in how you go about your business, and make you more productive. You want to be able to trust in a program that will help your technology people and developers work together in a more proficient way. 

In the end, it comes down to the personal preference of you and your colleagues. Which tool will the most people be comfortable operating in, and how efficient can you work within that tool? If there is a clear answer to these questions, then you are squared away with which of the two infrastructure as software tools to use. If not, make sure to talk to your colleagues to see where their strengths are in terms of code and what their biggest worries would be about switching to a domain specific language like the HashiCorp Configuration Language. Go with the choice that they will be most comfortable under so they can perform their best work. 

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