Earlier this year, Palo Alto Networks became the first security vendor to release a Terraform Provider, which allows customers to fully automate the configuration and policy creation of an in-place appliance-based or virtualized Palo Alto Networks next generation firewall.
With our Provider for PAN-OS 1.1, 1.2 and 1.4 releases, we have added a wide range of configuration tasks including support for IPSec VPN configuration. In addition to IPSec VPN support, the Terraform Provider for PAN-OS can be used to automate firewall configuration through Panorama. Device Groups, Templates, Template Stacks, Address Objects and NAT Policies are just a few of the items you can now automate within Panorama via the Provider for PAN-OS.
Terraform and Panorama?
We’ve heard the question: doesn’t Terraform obviate the need for Panorama? The short answer is no; in fact, Panorama and Terraform address two distinct roles and are complementary. Here’s a handy summary:
|Device configuration & update||X||X|
As a reminder, Panorama provides centralized management of our next generation firewalls. It can be deployed as a dedicated appliance, or as a virtualized instance in AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. The Panorama distributed architecture allows you to separate management functionality from logging, deploying where it makes the most sense. For example, you might use an appliance on-prem with management only, deploying Log Collectors in the cloud regions where your firewalls are located, thereby minimizing log transfers (and bandwidth charges). Logging Service can also be used as an alternative to Log Collectors.
Customers can use an existing Terraform Provider for AWS, Azure or Google Cloud to automate the creation of a VPC on AWS or Google Cloud, or a Resource Group in Azure, complete with a VM-Series firewall. Using Bootstrapping, the VM-Series is deployed with a minimal configuration that establishes connectivity and registers itself with Panorama. The benefit of a minimal configuration approach with bootstrapping is that it allows you to use that single image in a wide range of deployment scenarios, addressing variances with Terraform and Panorama.
Once the firewall is deployed, the expanded Panorama support in the Terraform Provider for PAN-OS can be used to automate additional configuration changes. Templates/Template Stacks can be applied to address configuration variances for firewalls deployed in different regions (US, EMEA, APAC cloud regions) or different form factors (cloud vs. physical on-premise). Device Groups (based on location or form factor) are then applied for policy creation and updates. Note that Templates, Template Stacks and Device Groups all can be automated through Panorama with the Terraform Provider.
Once the firewalls are in production, the role of Panorama increases as it becomes the central location for visibility reporting and forensics across the entire firewall estate. Put differently, for security teams, Panorama becomes the “source of truth” for all security related tasks, with Terraform acting as a complementary mechanism to automate large scale, repetitive tasks.