» Managing Workspaces

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.

» 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 local backend).

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 associate the current working directory with one or more remote workspaces by configuring the remote backend. If you associate the directory with multiple workspaces (using a name prefix), you can use the terraform workspace commands to select which remote workspace to use.

For more information about using Terraform CLI with Terraform Cloud, see CLI-driven Runs in the Terraform Cloud docs.