Terraform vs. Helm: What's the Real Difference Anyway?

This blog explores the differences between Terraform and Helm, and how they can complement each other in modern DevOps workflows.


Sourish Chakraborty

5/13/20243 min read


In today's rapidly evolving world of cloud infrastructure management, tools like Terraform and Helm have gained immense popularity. Both of these tools play a crucial role in provisioning and deploying applications, but they serve different purposes. In this article, we will explore the fundamental differences between Terraform and Helm, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of their unique capabilities and use cases.

Understanding Terraform

In this section, we'll delve into Terraform's core features and functionalities. Terraform is an infrastructure provisioning tool that enables users to define and manage their infrastructure as code. It provides a declarative language to describe the desired state of infrastructure resources, such as virtual machines, Kubernetes nodes, storage, and networking components. Terraform then automates the provisioning and management of these resources across multiple cloud platforms, making it highly versatile.

Above is a visual representation of Terraform code defining and provisioning infrastructure resources.

Suppose you're launching a web application on Cloud(e.g.; AWS). With Terraform, you can define the infrastructure resources required, including Kubernetes cluster, load balancer, and databases, using code. By executing Terraform, the desired infrastructure is automatically provisioned, ensuring consistency and reproducibility.

Unveiling Helm

In this section, we'll introduce Helm, which focuses on application packaging and deployment. Helm is a Kubernetes package manager that streamlines the installation and management of containerized applications. It uses "charts" as packaged applications, containing all the necessary Kubernetes resources, configuration files, and dependencies.

An illustration is showcasing a Helm chart getting deployed to Kubernetes resources.

Let's say you have a microservices-based application running on Kubernetes. By leveraging Helm, you can create a chart that encapsulates all the required Kubernetes objects, such as deployments, services, and ingress rules. This allows for simplified application deployment, version management, and rollbacks.

Terraform Vs Helm or Key Comparisons and Use Cases

In this section, we'll highlight the critical comparisons between Terraform and Helm, focusing on their use cases and strengths.

Infrastructure Provisioning vs. Application Deployment:

  • Terraform excels in provisioning and managing infrastructure resources across various cloud providers. It is suitable for defining and managing virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, storage, and networking components.

  • Helm, however, focuses on packaging and deploying applications on Kubernetes. It streamlines the installation, upgrading, and rollback of containerized applications.

Infrastructure as Code vs. Application Packaging:
  • Terraform's strength lies in its ability to define infrastructure resources as code. This approach ensures that infrastructure changes can be version-controlled, reviewed, and shared among teams.

  • Helm, being a package manager, specializes in bundling applications and their configurations into portable packages. This allows for consistent deployment across different environments.

Combining Terraform and Helm in DevOps Workflows

In this section, we'll discuss how Terraform and Helm can work together in a complementary manner within modern DevOps workflows.

Suppose you want to provision a Kubernetes cluster on AWS using Terraform. Once the infrastructure is up and running, you can utilize Helm to deploy containerized applications on the provisioned cluster. This combination ensures a streamlined process for managing both infrastructure and application deployments.


In conclusion, Terraform and Helm are powerful tools that serve different purposes in the world of cloud computing and DevOps. Terraform focuses on infrastructure provisioning, while Helm specializes in packaging and deploying applications on Kubernetes.

Understanding the distinctions between these tools and leveraging their strengths can enhance efficiency and maintainability in modern infrastructure management practices.

By combining Terraform and Helm, organizations can build robust DevOps workflows that seamlessly handle infrastructure provisioning, application deployment, and configuration management, leading to more efficient and scalable deployments.

Remember, the choice between Terraform and Helm ultimately depends on the specific needs of your infrastructure and application deployments. Exploring the possibilities and finding the right balance can unlock significant benefits in managing and scaling your cloud infrastructure.

I will be back with some other topic, till then Bye