Terraform Cloud, developed by HashiCorp, offers a centralized platform for managing Terraform code. Key features include version control integration, secure variable storage, remote state management, and policy enforcement, enabling organizations to efficiently maintain control over their cloud infrastructure.
Before the recent updates, HashiCorp Terraform Cloud was available at multiple price points: The free tier includes some basic features; the Team tier was priced at $20 per user per month and offered everything in the free tier plus role-based access control, the Team and Governance tier was priced at $70/user and included everything in the Team tier plus Policies; the Business tier was their most comprehensive option.
Below you can see what Terraform Cloud Price looked like before the changes were made.
|Free Tier||Team Tier||Team & Governance Tier||Business Tier|
|Price (monthly)||Free||20$/user||70$/user + 500$ per extra concurrency||Undisclosed, you need to contact their sales team|
|Features||– State Management & Locking
– VCS Integration
– Private Module Registry
– API Tokens
– Variable Sets
– Run tasks
– Cost Estimation
|Team & Governance +
– SSO Integration
– Audit Logs
– Drift Detection
– Premium support
|Concurrency||1||1||1||Scaling to unlimited|
HashiCorp recently switched to a new pricing model for Terraform that includes only three plans for the SaaS version: Free, Standard, and Plus. The Plus plan (quote available from the sales team) is similar to the old Business Tier feature-wise, but the most remarkable change appears in the Free and Standard levels: Hashicorp has switched to a RUM (Resources Under Management) pricing model.
In the standard tier, they will manage 500 resources in the state for free. For every other resource you have in the state above the 500 resource threshold, you will have to pay $0.00014/hour. In the free tier, the resources will be limited to a maximum of 500, making the upgrade to the standard tier necessary. At first, this doesn’t seem like a big cost, but remember that every security group rule is a resource, and everything you can configure about an S3 bucket (life cycle, versioning, policies, etc.) is a resource.
This pricing model is unsustainable for many customers, as it will be very hard to predict what their bill will look like at the end of the month. There are a couple of resources that Hashicorp states are not taken into consideration in the billing process (null_resource and terraform_data), but still, if you go to your in-app plan & billing tab, you will see them there. In the below example, in my account, I have deployed 600 terraform_data resources and 600 other resources:
Billing doesn’t update in real-time or not even near real-time, and you can’t even see these updates in your HCP account.
In the previous pricing tiers, they weren’t offering any premium features in the free tier or in the predecessors of the standard tier. In my opinion, they are still not doing that, as you only get a taste of policies and run tasks, which are two essential features that make your workflows usable. Now, instead of nothing, you get a mere 5 policies in both free and standard tiers, one Run Task integration, and ten Workspace Run Tasks. Some may argue these are enough, and in some cases, that might be true, but there is a catch:
Only one policy can be Soft/Hard mandatory, and one run task can be mandatory, so you will need to pay extra attention to your runs, or else you will have to upgrade to the Plus or Enterprise tier.
Implementing a custom workflow is still really difficult because you are limited to what Terraform Cloud offers in their run tasks. It’s impossible to integrate other tools into your workflow without using an external CI/CD platform like Github Actions.
Another option Hashicorp offers for Terraform Cloud is its Enterprise solution. The main difference is that Terraform Enterprise is self-hosted and offered as a private installation rather than a SaaS solution. Terraform Enterprise offers most of the same features as the Terraform Business tier.
Judging from the AWS Marketplace and Azure Marketplace offerings of Terraform Enterprise, pricing starts from $15,000/year, but it includes only five workspaces, which of course, won’t be enough for an enterprise prepared to spend this kind of money on an enterprise-grade solution.
Spacelift is a Terraform Cloud alternative that offers a customizable GitOps workflow for managing infrastructure at scale.
Powerful free tier
As well as the ability to run Terraform workflows and offer feature parity, Spacelift also enables you to create workflows with Kubernetes, Pulumi, and Cloud Formation. This, combined with the stack dependencies feature, gives you the flexibility to build end-to-end workflows. By defining dependencies, you have a way of triggering runs on multiple stacks without having to go through each manually.
You also fully own your workflow: You can bring custom code, custom tasks, and even a custom runner image, and you can install and configure any third-party security tools and embed them in your use case. In Terraform Cloud, you can only leverage run tasks, which will always be limited to what Terraform Cloud supports at a given moment.
All of these features are offered in the free tier. Combined with Spacelift’s Policy As Code framework based on OPA (plan and approval policies included for free), this makes it really easy to use the free tier to host your personal projects, and utilizing all these features will really help you become more skilled at handling enterprise workloads. You can even define custom plan policies based on your third-party integrations, using Custom inputs.
OPA uses Rego to define policies, and Rego can be hard to master. At Spacelift, you can harness the Policy workbench to help you speed up policy development by sampling the inputs. In addition to that, you can leverage Spacelift’s policy library to get started.
Terraform Cloud does not provide an overview of all of your deployed resources, whereas Spacelift’s Resource Visualization feature makes it really easy to understand what has been deployed in your infrastructure.
Security is key for Spacelift. That’s why we are strongly against using static credentials so you can take advantage of our integrations with AWS, Azure, and GCP.
Cost estimation is another feature that Spacelift offers free, via Infracost. This allows you to predict what your bills will be for your cloud resources at the end of the month. You can easily define policies to do things like restrict creating resources if the hourly or monthly cost exceeds a set threshold.
Terraform Cloud also offers a cost estimation option, but it will most likely confuse everybody, as it only takes into consideration what you are going to pay for the resource in a specific cloud provider and not how much that resource will cost to be held in the state for a month.
Even the free Spacelift tier offers some enterprise features, making it a real game-changer for most users.
With the Cloud tier, you can unlock all policies and integrate with monitoring, chat, and other DevOps tools using notification policies, as well as make decisions in your runs based on what happens in response to a Git push or pull request. Pricing starts at $250/month and includes 5 users and a concurrency of 2.
This tier also offers a Datadog integration you can leverage to take observability to the next level inside Spacelift. Read more about it here. Other integrations can be easily built by following the same approach with our notification policy.
Using OpenID Connect, you can easily exchange short-lived Spacelift credentials for temporary credentials valid for external service providers such as AWS, Azure, GCP, Vault, and others.
Multitenancy with Spaces is also available in this tier, making access control easier. With Spaces, you can delegate limited admin access to some of your users in a particular space.
Enterprise tier and Self-Hosted
Similar to Terraform Cloud, Spacelift’s Enterprise tier offers private workers, Drift Detection, and many other interesting features:
Advanced Scheduling enables you to delete all the resources inside your stack and the stack itself. This is a helpful way to save costs by deleting all the resources after working hours and on the weekends. With this feature, you can also schedule arbitrary tasks that you want to happen on a particular schedule.
Blueprints are really powerful. You can create templates with the code, as well as the policies attached to that code, the authentication to the cloud provider, environment variables, shared variables, advanced scheduling, drift detection, and more. This takes reusability to the next level: You configure the template once and use it to create as many stacks as you want.
Terraform Cloud has two features that combined don’t even come close to Blueprints: Design configuration (which just generates simple code that leverages an existing module, based on its input variables) and No-Code provisioning (don’t get too excited, you will still write the Terraform code) which just gives the option to give some predefined values to the variables of a module and enable users to deploy workspaces from that without giving them the possibility to make any changes.
Spacelift supports auditing of all operations that happen inside the platform on the resources. With the Audit Trails feature, you can easily send your audit trails to an endpoint you provide.
To see which tier of Spacelift best suits your business, check out our various pricing plans.
Migrate from Terraform Cloud to Spacelift
Many people can be reluctant to change, as it usually involves a lot of manual steps that have to be done, and the process can be really error-prone. At Spacelift, we understand this, and we’ve provided a seamless way of migrating your Terraform Cloud Workspaces. The steps on how to do it are available in this 7-minute article and also in this 16-minute video.
We already have a couple of customers that migrated from Terraform Cloud to Spacelift, and you can read more about one of them here.
Although Terraform Cloud offers many interesting features for managing your Terraform workflow, you need to upgrade to the Plus tier to leverage it fully. Even if you are happy with what the Standard tier is offering, many people have already reported they are going to pay more for Terraform Cloud than they are paying their cloud providers for the actual resources.
The key fear for customers is the inability to predict what their Terraform Cloud bill will look like – something that creates real difficulties for scaling companies.
On the other hand, Spacelift’s free tier is a powerhouse, packed with many features you won’t find even in Terraform Cloud’s top offering. With Spacelift, you unlock workflows for Kubernetes, CloudFormation, Ansible, and Pulumi too.
Upgrading to our Cloud or Enterprise tier will unlock even more features you can easily leverage to build sophisticated workflows that would be really hard to implement in other products and Spacelift pricing is transparent and predictable, so you can scale safely, knowing you are within your planned budget.
Manage Terraform Better with Spacelift
Build more complex workflows based on Terraform using policy as code, programmatic configuration, context sharing, drift detection, resource visualization and many more.