Getting Started with Terraform: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

In the realm of DevOps and Infrastructure as Code (IaC), Terraform has emerged as a leading tool, allowing engineers to manage and provision their infrastructure in a predictable and efficient way. This guide aims to help beginners get started with Terraform, using practical examples.

Introduction to Terraform

Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, is an open-source tool that codifies APIs into declarative configuration files, enabling users to manage their infrastructure as code. This IaC approach has numerous benefits, including increased efficiency, consistency, and repeatability. Terraform is platform-agnostic and supports a multitude of providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, and many more.


Before we dive into Terraform, ensure that you have the following:

  1. Basic understanding of command-line interface (CLI) operations.
  2. Familiarity with cloud services (we’ll use AWS for our example).
  3. An AWS account.

Step 1: Install Terraform

The first step is to install Terraform on your machine. Depending on your OS, this can be done through a variety of methods. For macOS users, the process can be as simple as:

brew install terraform 

For other operating systems, download the appropriate package from the official Terraform website and follow the instructions.

Verify your installation with:

terraform -v 

Step 2: Set Up Your AWS CLI

Before Terraform can interact with your AWS account, you’ll need to configure the AWS CLI with your credentials.

Install the AWS CLI with:

brew install awscli 

Then configure it:

aws configure 

Input your AWS Access Key ID, Secret Access Key, default region name, and default output format when prompted.

Step 3: Write Your Terraform Configuration File

Create a new directory for your Terraform files and navigate into it:

mkdir terraform-project && cd terraform-project 

Inside this directory, create a new file called This is where your Terraform configuration will live. The language used in these files is called HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL).


To create an AWS S3 bucket. Here’s a simple Terraform configuration for creating an S3 bucket:

provider "aws" {
  region = "us-east-1"

resource "aws_s3_bucket" "bucket" {
  bucket = "my-bucket"
  acl    = "private"

  tags = {
    Name        = "My bucket"
    Environment = "Test"

This code sets AWS as the provider and specifies the region. It then declares a resource of type aws_s3_bucket. The bucket and acl arguments specify the name of the bucket and its access control level.

Step 4: Initialize Terraform

Before you can run any commands, you need to initialize Terraform in the project directory:

terraform init 

This command downloads the necessary provider plugins.

Step 5: Plan and Apply

Now we can ask Terraform to plan the changes:

terraform plan 

This command will show what actions Terraform will perform to reach the desired state declared in

If everything looks good, apply the changes:

terraform apply 

After a confirmation, Terraform will proceed to create the declared AWS S3 bucket.

Step 6: Destroy

When you no longer need the resources, you can use Terraform to destroy them, ensuring you aren’t charged for resources you’re no longer using:

terraform destroy 

This command will remove the resources that Terraform has managed.


This article only scratches the surface of what Terraform is capable of. However, it should serve as a starting point to get your hands dirty with this powerful tool. With practice, you will be able to manage complex infrastructures using Terraform, enjoying all the benefits that Infrastructure as Code has to offer.

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