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Last updated: 27 Jul 2023

Upgrade Terraform

Terraform should be regularly upgraded. New releases happen very often, with bug fixes and improvements. Also, being too far behind the latest versions can make future upgrades and support for new provider services much harder to perform.

In our platform we need to update the version of Terraform and AWS provider enforced in the govuk-aws code repo, and update the Terraform package that runs the Deploy_Terraform_GOVUK_AWS Jenkins job in the CI machines.

The Terraform version of a client that updated a state file is represented in the state. Once a client with a new version of Terraform updates a remote state file, the rest of clients will be forced to use that same version of Terraform. It is important to update both the package in CI and the version required in the code more or less at the same time to avoid errors in the clients/jobs.

Currently we are also enforcing the version of the Terraform AWS provider in our code. We should also keep an eye on new versions and update regularly in a similar way.

Before/during the upgrade:

  • Read the Terraform CHANGELOG carefully, make sure there aren’t backwards incompatible changes, or the code is updated if required.
  • If you are planning a Terraform AWS provider upgrade, also read the CHANGELOG carefully. This provider is updated very often.
  • Test the new versions in a local branch first. Probably a terraform plan of the infra-* and a few app-* projects can provide enough test coverage.
  • Check for DEPRECATION messages and try to fix them.
  • Inform people of the upgrade so they can install the new binary in their laptops for code development.

Build a new Terraform package

The Terraform package is built with a recipe in the packager repository. Follow the general instructions in Debian packaging to create a new package and upload it to our Apt repository.

For instance, this pull request creates a recipe for Terraform 0.11.14 After merging to master, execute the build_fpm_package job to build a new Terraform package. The new package will appear in the job artefacts section. Download it to your machine and upload it to in Production.

Run the following commands to add it to the Terraform repo:

sudo -i aptly repo add terraform /home/your_user_name/terraform_0.11.14_amd64.deb
sudo aptly snapshot create terraform-$(date +%Y%m%d) from repo terraform
sudo -i aptly publish switch trusty terraform terraform-$(date +%Y%m%d)

The aptly publish command requires the apt passphrase that can be found in the password store

Update the Terraform package in the CI machines

The version of the Terraform package that is installed in CI is managed in Puppet. Update the govuk_jenkins::packages::terraform::version parameter with the new version, after the package is available in Aptly.

Update the Terraform version in govuk-aws

In govuk-aws:

  • Replace the version requirement in the .tf files to match the new version:
terraform {
  backend          "s3"             {}
  required_version = "= 0.11.7"

For instance, to upgrade from 0.11.7 to 0.11.14 you can run:

find . -name *.tf | xargs sed -i '' -e "s/0.11.7/0.11.14/g"
  • Update the version managed by tfenv in the .terraform-version file
  • Update any other reference in the docs

Upgrade the Terraform AWS provider

Currently we set the version of the Terraform AWS provider in our code, for instance:

provider "aws" {
  region  = "${var.aws_region}"
  version = "1.60.0"

Upgrading the provider only requires a change of this version parameter in the .tf files. This version is downloaded to the client when the terraform init command runs, which happens automatically when we deploy Terraform with the Jenkins job or the tools/ script.