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Packer and Terraform Pattern Example

This repository houses a simple application that demonstrates an end-to-end infrastructure as code pattern using Packer and Terraform.

This repository serves as the technical example for the following article:

The Components

  • A small ruby gem (vancluever_hello). This is built using rubygems tasks using rake.
  • A Chef recipe designed for deploying the application (packer_payload). This is a single-purpose cookbook that is not intended to be shared in Supermarket, etc. It's only intended for use with Packer. With that said, having a cookbook allows you to port this functionality to a general-use cookbook if necessary - this can then be included from a fresh packer_payload cookbook.
  • A packer template located at packer/ami.json
  • Terraform infrastructure in the terraform directory, comprised of a single template for now,

You manage all of this with rake.

The Rakefile

The Rakefile has tasks for managing the full lifecycle from building of the gem, to AMI, to deployment. The list is below:

rake ami              # Create an application AMI with Packer
rake berks_cookbooks  # Vendors dependent cookbooks in berks-cookbooks (for Packer)
rake build            # Build vancluever_hello-0.1.0.gem into the pkg directory
rake clean            # Remove any temporary products
rake clobber          # Remove any generated files
rake infrastructure   # Deploy infrastructure using Terraform

In addition to that, the file also has helper functions for looking up AMI IDs to be used in the build process.

Using this Repository

To prepare the repository for use, clone it and run

bundle install --binstubs --path vendor/bundle

You should then be good to start using bundle exec rake. Get a list of commands by running bundle exec rake -T.

You also need Packer and Terraform.

Finally, valid AWS credentials will need to be available in your credential chain, either as environment variables (ie: AWS_ACCESS_KEY, AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY and AWS_SESSION_TOKEN), or your credentials in your ~/.aws directory.

Environment variables

You can also control the build process through the following environment variables:

  • DISTRO To control the Ubuntu distribution to use (default trusty).
  • REGION To control the region to deploy to (default us-east-1).
  • TF_CMD To control the Terrafrom command (default apply).

Author and License

Copyright 2016 Chris Marchesi

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.


Full end-to-end demonstration of infrastructure as code, living with your application




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