Atlas Glossary

Atlas, and this documentation, covers a large set of terminology adopted from tools, industry standards and the community. This glossary seeks to define as many of those terms as possible to help increase understanding in interfacing with Atlas and reading documentation.

Authentication Tokens

Authentication tokens are tokens used to authenticate with Atlas via APIs or through tools. Authentication tokens can be revoked, expired or created under any user.

ACL

ACL is an acronym for access control list. This defines access to a set of resources. Access to an object in Atlas limited to "read" for certain users is an example of an ACL.

Alert

An alert represents a health check status change on a Consul node that is sent to Atlas, and then recorded and distributed to various notification methods.

Application

An application is a set of code that represents an application that should be deployed. Applications can be linked to builds to be made available in the Packer environment.

Apply

An apply is the second step of the two steps required for Terraform to make changes to infrastructure. The apply is the process of communicating with external APIs to make the changes.

Artifact

An artifact is an abstract representation of something you wish to store and use again that has undergone configuration, compilation or some other build process. For Atlas, an artifact is typically an image created by Packer that is then deployed by Terraform, or used locally with Vagrant.

Atlas

Atlas encompasses all the interfaces and services documented here. It is the name of this product.

Auto-Join

Auto-join is a Consul feature detailed here.

Box

Boxes are a Vagrant specific package format. Vagrant can install and uses images in box format.

Build

Builds are resources that represent Packer configurations. A build is a generic name, sometimes called a "Build Configuration" when defined in the Atlas UI.

Build Configuration

A build configuration are settings associated with a resource that creates artifacts via builds. A build configuration is the name in packer push -name acemeinc/web.

Catalog

The box catalog is a publicly available index of Vagrant Boxes that can be downloaded from Atlas and used for development.

Consul

Consul is a HashiCorp tool for service discovery, configuration, and orchestration. Consul enables rapid deployment, configuration, monitoring and maintenance of service-oriented architectures.

Datacenter

A datacenter represents a group of nodes in the same network or datacenter within Consul.

Environment

Environments show the real-time status of your infrastructure, any pending changes, and its change history. Environments can be configured to use any or all of these three components.

Environments are the namespace of your Atlas managed infrastructure. As an example, if you to have a production environment for a company named Acme Inc., your environment may be named acmeinc/production.

To read more about features provided under environments, read the Terraform and Consul sections.

Environment Variables

Environment variables injected into the environment of Packer builds or Terraform Runs (plans and applies).

Flapping

Flapping is something entering and leaving a healthy state rapidly. Within Atlas, it's typically associated with a health checks that briefly report unhealthy status before recovering.

Health Check

Health checks trigger alerts by changing status on a Consul node. That status change is seen by Atlas, when connected, and an associated alert is recorded in Atlas and sent to any configured notification methods, like email.

Infrastructure

An infrastructure is a stateful representation of a set of Consul datacenters.

Managed Node

Managed node is the billing metric for Atlas. For Consul Enterprise, a node is a host with a Consul agent on it. For Terraform Enterprise, a node is a compute resource managed by Terraform. See Managed Nodes for more details about which Terraform resources and resource properties are counted as compute resources.

For Consul Enterprise, the auto-join feature is completely free. Only alerts and the real-time dashboard are paid features. All Terraform Enterprise features are paid.

Operator

An operator is a person who is making changes to infrastructure or Atlas settings.

Packer

Packer is a tool for creating images for platforms such as Amazon AWS, OpenStack, VMware, VirtualBox, Docker, and more — all from a single source configuration.

Packer Template

A Packer template is a JSON file that configure the various components of Packer in order to create one or more machine images.

Plan

A plan is the second step of the two steps required for Terraform to make changes to infrastructure. The plan is the process of determining what changes will be made to.

Providers

Providers are often referenced when discussing Packer or Terraform. Terraform providers manage resources in Terraform. Read more.

Post-Processors

The post-processor section within a Packer template configures any post-processing that will be done to images built by the builders. Examples of post-processing would be compressing files, uploading artifacts, etc..

Registry

Often referred to as the "Artifact Registry", the Atlas registry stores artifacts, be it images or IDs for cloud provider images.

Run

A run in Atlas represents a two step Terraform plan and a subsequent apply.

Service

A service in Consul represents an application or service, which could be active on any number of nodes.

Share

Shares are let you instantly share public access to your running Vagrant environment (virtual machine).

State

Terraform state is the state of your managed infrastructure from the last time Terraform was run. By default this state is stored in a local file named terraform.tfstate, but it can also be stored in Atlas and is then called "Remote state".

Terraform

Terraform is a tool for safely and efficiently changing infrastructure across providers.

Terraform Configuration

Terraform configuration is the configuration files and any files that may be used in provisioners like remote-exec.

Terraform Variables

Variables in Terraform, uploaded with terraform push or set in the Atlas UI. These differ from environment variables as they are a first class Terraform variable used in interpolation.