Starting Terraform Runs in Atlas

There are a variety of ways to queue a Terraform run in Atlas. In addition to terraform push, you can connect your environment to GitHub and have Atlas queue Terraform runs based on new commits. Atlas can also intelligently queue new runs when linked artifacts are uploaded or changed. Remember from the previous section about Terraform runs that it is safe to trigger many plans without consequence since Terraform plans do not change infrastructure.

Terraform Push

Terraform push is a Terraform command that packages and uploads a set of Terraform configuration and directory to Atlas. This then creates a run in Atlas, which performs terraform plan and terraform apply against the uploaded configuration.

The directory is included in order to run any associated provisioners, that might use local files. For example, a remote-exec provisioner that executes a shell script.

By default, everything in your directory is uploaded as part of the push.

However, it's not always the case that the entire directory should be uploaded. Often, temporary or cache directories and files like .git, .tmp will be included by default. This can cause Atlas to fail at certain sizes and should be avoided. You can specify exclusions to avoid this situation.

Terraform also allows for a VCS option that will detect your VCS (if there is one) and only upload the files that are tracked by the VCS. This is useful for automatically excluding ignored files. In a VCS like git, this basically does a git ls-files.

GitHub Webhooks

Optionally, GitHub can be used to import Terraform configuration. When used within an organization, this can be extremely valuable for keeping differences in environments and last mile changes from occurring before an upload to Atlas.

After you have connected your GitHub account to Atlas, you can connect your environment to the target GitHub repository. The GitHub repository will be linked to the Atlas Terraform configuration, and GitHub will start sending webhooks to Atlas. Certain GitHub webhook events, detailed below, will cause the repository to be automatically ingressed into Atlas and stored, along with references to the GitHub commits and authorship information.

Currently, an environment must already exist to be connected to GitHub. You can create the environment with terraform push, detailed above, and then link it to GitHub.

Each ingress will trigger a Terraform plan. If you have auto-apply enabled then the plan will also be applied.

You can disable an ingress by adding the text [atlas skip] or [ci skip] to your commit message.

Supported GitHub webhook events:

  • pull_request (on by default)
    • ingress when opened or reopened
    • ingress when synchronized (new commits are pushed to the branch)
  • push (on by default)
    • ingress when a tag is created
    • ingress when the default branch is updated
    • note: the default branch is either configured on your configuration's integrations tab in Atlas, or if that is blank it is the GitHub repository's default branch
  • create (off by default)
    • ingress when a tag is created
    • note: if you want to only run on tag creation, turn on create events and turn off push events

Artifact Uploads

Upon successful completion of a Terraform run, Atlas parses the remote state and detects any Atlas artifacts that were referenced. When new versions of those referenced artifacts are uploaded to Atlas, you have the option to automatically queue a new Terraform run.

For example, consider the following Terraform configuration which references an Atlas artifact named "worker":

resource "aws_instance" "worker" {
  ami = "${atlas_artifact.worker.metadata_full.region-us-east-1}"
  instance_type = "m1.small"

When a new version of the Atlas artifact "worker" is uploaded either manually or as the output of a Packer build, Atlas can automatically trigger a Terraform plan with this new artifact version. You can enable this feature on a per-environment basis from the environment settings page in Atlas.

Combined with Terraform auto apply, you can continuously deliver infrastructure using Terraform and Atlas.

Terraform Plugins

If you are using a custom Terraform Plugin binary for a provider or provisioner that's not currently in a released version of Terraform, you can still use this in Atlas.

All you need to do is include a Linux AMD64 binary for the plugin in the directory in which Terraform commands are run from; Atlas will then use the plugin the next time you terraform push or ingress from GitHub.