Andi Ashari

Tech Voyager & Digital Visionary

What is Data Source in Terraform Code?

What is Data Source in Terraform Code?

Terraform stands out for its capability to bridge the gap between infrastructure configurations and the real-world state of cloud-based resources through the concept of data sources. This guide delves into the essence of Terraform data sources, highlighting their importance and demonstrating their application for more dynamic and flexible infrastructure management.

Understanding Terraform Data Sources

data source in Terraform is a feature that allows configurations to utilize information that is either defined externally or by a separate Terraform configuration. Acting as a read-only conduit, data sources enable Terraform to fetch data from cloud providers or other services without managing the resources themselves. This distinction from resources, which Terraform actively manages and creates, underscores the role of data sources in facilitating access to up-to-date information about existing infrastructure, thereby enhancing the adaptability and accuracy of configurations.

How Data Sources Function

Data sources conduct read-only queries on service or cloud provider APIs, supplying Terraform with the latest information about external or separately managed resources. This encompasses a broad spectrum of data, from AMI IDs and network subnet IDs to Docker image versions. By retrieving this data at runtime, Terraform ensures configurations reflect the most current state of resources, maintaining infrastructure integrity and alignment with desired states.

Practical Application of Data Sources

To better understand data sources, consider the scenario of creating a new AWS EC2 instance that should integrate with an existing Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Instead of embedding the VPC ID directly into your configuration, a data source allows for the dynamic retrieval of the VPC ID based on specified criteria, thereby enhancing flexibility and reducing error potential.

Defining a Data Source

Begin by specifying a data source in your Terraform configuration to obtain the necessary VPC information:

data "aws_vpc" "selected" {
  tags = {
    Name = "MyVPC"

This snippet directs Terraform to query the AWS provider for a VPC tagged as "MyVPC", storing the result in the selected data source.

Utilizing Data Source Outputs

With the VPC ID obtained, it can be used to configure additional resources, such as creating a subnet within the VPC:

resource "aws_subnet" "example" {
  vpc_id     =
  cidr_block = ""
  tags = {
    Name = "MySubnet"

Here, the subnet’s vpc_id is dynamically set using the ID from the selected data source, ensuring correct VPC placement without hard-coding values.

Terraform data sources significantly enhance the dynamism and flexibility of infrastructure as code (IaC) practices. By seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure, they enable configurations that are robust, error-resistant, and easily maintainable. The AWS VPC example underscores the value of data sources in simplifying resource integration, promoting configurations that are both agile and precise.

For both experienced and new Terraform users, mastering data sources is pivotal for leveraging Terraform’s full capabilities. This exploration of data sources paves the way for more efficient, informed, and responsive infrastructure management in the cloud.