» Remote Backends

Terraform stores state about managed infrastructure to map real-world resources to the configuration, keep track of metadata, and improve performance. Terraform stores this state in a local file by default, but you can also use a Terraform remote backend to store state remotely.

By default, cdktf init will configure a Terraform Cloud workspace and a corresponding remote backend to store state for the new project. If you run cdktf init --local to configure your new project to use a local backend to store state, you can still migrate the state to a remote backend later.

You can configure your CDK for Terraform (CDKTF) remote backend to be Terraform Cloud, another Terraform supported backend, or a custom location.

» When to Use Remote Backends

Consider using a remote backend when multiple individuals or teams need access to your infrastructure state data.

Remote state makes it easier for teams to work together because all members have access to the latest state data in the remote store. It also allows you to share output values with other configurations, allowing groups to share infrastructure resources. For example, a core infrastructure team can handle building the core machines and then expose some information that other teams can use for their own infrastructure.

» Define Remote Backends

You can define a JSON configuration for a remote backend with a TerraformBackend subclass or a JSON configuration file.

The TypeScript example below uses the TerraformBackend subclass RemoteBackend.

import { Construct } from "constructs";
import { App, RemoteBackend, TerraformStack, TerraformOutput } from "cdktf";

class MyStack extends TerraformStack {
  constructor(scope: Construct, id: string) {
    super(scope, id);

    new RemoteBackend(this, {
      hostname: "app.terraform.io",
      organization: "company",
      workspaces: {
        name: "my-app-prod",

    new TerraformOutput(this, "dns-server", {
      value: "hello-world",

const app = new App();
new Mystack(app, "hello-terraform");

When you call cdktf synth, CDKTF generates a JSON file called remote.tf.json in the cdktf.out stack sub-directory containing the synthesized CDKTF code. For example, CDKTF creates the output for a stack called hello-terraform in cdktf.out/stacks/hello-terraform.

Below is the stack output directory.

tree .
├── cdk.tf.json
└── remote.tf.json

Below is the generated remote.tf.json file.

  "terraform": {
    "backend": {
      "remote": {
        "hostname": "app.terraform.io",
        "organization": "company",
        "workspaces": {
          "name": "my-app-prod"

» Initialize Remote Backends

All cdktf operations perform an automatic terraform init, but you can also initialize manually.

To manually initialize a remote backend, go to the corresponding stack output directory in the cdktf.out folder and run terraform init.

$ cd cdkf.out/stacks/hello-terraform
$ terraform init

» Migrate Local State Storage to Remote

After you define your remote backend, you can migrate existing local state files to the designated remote location. This requires moving Terraform state files to the CDKTF output directory.

Consider an example project called hello-terraform that is using local storage to store the Terraform state. To migrate the local stage files to the remote backend:

  1. Navigate into the main project directory.
  2. Use RemoteBackend to add a new remote backend.
   const stack = new MyStack(app, "hello-terraform");
   new RemoteBackend(stack, {
     hostname: "app.terraform.io",
     organization: "company",
     workspaces: {
       name: "my-app-prod",
  1. Run cdktf synth to generate the Terraform configuration file.
  2. Move the Terraform state file into the output directory.
   mv terraform.hello-terraform.tfstate cdktf.out/stacks/hello-terraform
  1. Navigate to cdktf.out/stacks/hello-terraform and run terraform init. CDKTF prints the following output:
   Initializing the backend...
   Do you want to copy existing state to the new backend?
     Pre-existing state was found while migrating the previous "local" backend to the
     newly configured "remote" backend. No existing state was found in the newly
     configured "remote" backend. Do you want to copy this state to the new "remote"
     backend? Enter "yes" to copy and "no" to start with an empty state.

     Enter a value: yes

     Successfully configured the backend "remote"! Terraform will automatically
     use this backend unless the backend configuration changes.

     Initializing provider plugins...

     Terraform has been successfully initialized!

     You may now begin working with Terraform. Try running "terraform plan" to see
     any changes that are required for your infrastructure. All Terraform commands
     should now work.

     If you ever set or change modules or backend configuration for Terraform,
     other cdktf cli commands will detect the change and prompt you to rerun this command if necessary.

  1. Runcdktf diff in the root hello-terraform directory to validate state migration. CDKTF prints the following output:
   Stack: hello-terraform

   Diff: 0 to create, 0 to update, 0 to delete.

With the remote backend type in this example, a diff would indicate that the state was not migrated properly. There are no changes to the stack, which means the migration was successful. Consult the documentation for the remote backend you are using to understand how to validate state migration.

» Supported Backends

In addition to Terraform Cloud, Terraform and CDKTF support the following backends.

  • local typescript new LocalBackend(stack, {...});
  • artifactory typescript new ArtifactoryBackend(stack, {...});
  • azurerm typescript new AzurermBackend(stack, {...});
  • consul typescript new ConsulBackend(stack, {...});
  • cos typescript new CosBackend(stack, {...});
  • etcd typescript new EtcdBackend(stack, {...});
  • etcdv3 typescript new EtcdV3Backend(stack, {...});
  • gcs typescript new GcsBackend(stack, {...});
  • http typescript new HttpBackend(stack, {...});
  • manta typescript new MantaBackend(stack, {...});
  • oss typescript new OssBackend(stack, {...});
  • pg typescript new PgBackend(stack, {...});
  • s3 typescript new S3Backend(stack, {...});
  • swift typescript new SwiftBackend(stack, {...});

» Escape Hatches

Escape hatches can add to or override existing resources, and you can use them for backends or backend constructs that CDKTF does not natively support. Escape hatch methods have an Override suffix (e.g., addOverride).

The example below uses an escape hatch to add an unsupported remote backend on a Stack object.

stack.addOverride("terraform.backend", {
  atlas: {
    name: "example_corp/networking-prod",
    address: "https://app.terraform.io",