In Terraform CLI, workspaces are separate instances of state data that can be used from the same working directory. You can use workspaces to manage multiple non-overlapping groups of resources with the same configuration.
- Every initialized working directory has at least
one workspace. (If you haven't created other workspaces, it is a workspace
- For a given working directory, only one workspace can be selected at a time.
- Most Terraform commands (including provisioning and state manipulation commands) only interact with the currently selected workspace.
- Use the
terraform workspace selectcommand to change the currently selected workspace.
- Use the
terraform workspace list,
terraform workspace new, and
terraform workspace deletecommands to manage the available workspaces in the current working directory.
Note: Terraform Cloud and Terraform CLI both have features called "workspaces," but they're slightly different. Terraform Cloud's workspaces behave more like completely separate working directories.
»The Purpose of Workspaces
Since most of the resources you can manage with Terraform don't include a unique name as part of their configuration, it's common to use the same Terraform configuration to provision multiple groups of similar resources.
Terraform relies on state to associate resources with real-world objects, so if you run the same configuration multiple times with completely separate state data, Terraform can manage many non-overlapping groups of resources. In some cases you'll want to change variable values for these different resource collections (like when specifying differences between staging and production deployments), and in other cases you might just want many instances of a particular infrastructure pattern.
The simplest way to maintain multiple instances of a configuration with
completely separate state data is to use multiple
working directories (with different
backend configurations per directory, if you
aren't using the default
However, this isn't always the most convenient way to handle separate states. Terraform installs a separate cache of plugins and modules for each working directory, so maintaining multiple directories can waste bandwidth and disk space. You must also update your configuration code from version control separately for each directory, reinitialize each directory separately when changing the configuration, etc.
Workspaces allow you to use the same working copy of your configuration and the same plugin and module caches, while still keeping separate states for each collection of resources you manage.
»Interactions with Terraform Cloud Workspaces
Terraform Cloud organizes infrastructure using workspaces, but its workspaces act more like completely separate working directories; each Terraform Cloud workspace has its own Terraform configuration, set of variable values, state data, run history, and settings.
These two kinds of workspaces are different, but related. When using Terraform
CLI as a frontend for Terraform Cloud, you can associate the current working
directory with one or more remote workspaces. If you associate the
directory with multiple workspaces (using workspace tags), you can use the
terraform workspace commands to select which remote workspace to use.
Refer to CLI-driven Runs in the Terraform Cloud documentation for more details about using Terraform CLI with Terraform Cloud.