Skip to content

Terraform Null Resource

Step-01: Introduction

  • Understand about Null Provider
  • Understand about Null Resource
  • Understand about Time Provider
  • Usecase: Force a resource to update based on a changed null_resource
  • Create time_sleep resource to wait for 90 seconds after Azure Linux VM Instance creation
  • Create Null resource with required provisioners
  • File Provisioner: Copy apps/app1 folder to /tmp
  • Remote Exec Provisioner: Copy app1 folder from /tmp to /var/www/htnl
  • Over the process we will learn about
  • null_resource
  • time_sleep resource
  • We will also learn how to Force a resource to update based on a changed null_resource using timestamp function and triggers in null_resource

Step-02: Define null provider in Terraform Settings Block

  • Update null provider info listed below in
    null = {
      source = "hashicorp/null"
      version = ">= 3.0.0"

Step-03: Define Time Provider in Terraform Settings Block

  • Update time provider info listed below in
    time = {
      source = "hashicorp/time"
      version = ">= 0.6.0"

Step-04: Create / Review the terraform configuration

Step-04-01: Create Time Sleep Resource

  • This resource will wait for 90 seconds after VM Instance creation.
  • This wait time will give VM Instance to provision the Apache Webserver and create all its relevant folders
  • Primarily if we want to copy static content we need Apache webserver static folder /var/www/html
# Wait for 90 seconds after creating the above Azure Virtual Machine Instance 
resource "time_sleep" "wait_90_seconds" {
  depends_on = [azurerm_linux_virtual_machine.mylinuxvm]
  create_duration = "90s"

Step-04-02: Create Null Resource

  • Create Null resource with triggers with timestamp() function which will trigger for every terraform apply
  • This Null Resource will help us to sync the static content from our local folder to VM Instnace as and when required.
  • Also only changes will applied using only null_resource when terraform apply is run. In other words, when static content changes, how will we sync those changes to VM Instance using terraform - This is one simple solution.
  • Primarily the focus here is to learn the following
  • null_resource
  • null_resource trigger
  • How trigger works based on timestamp() function ?
  • Provisioners in Null Resource

# Sync App1 Static Content to Webserver using Provisioners
resource "null_resource" "sync_app1_static" {
  depends_on = [ time_sleep.wait_90_seconds ]
  triggers = {
    always-update =  timestamp()

  # Connection Block for Provisioners to connect to Azure VM Instance
  connection {
    type = "ssh"
    host = azurerm_linux_virtual_machine.mylinuxvm.public_ip_address 
    user = azurerm_linux_virtual_machine.mylinuxvm.admin_username
    private_key = file("${path.module}/ssh-keys/terraform-azure.pem")

 # Copies the app1 folder to /tmp
  provisioner "file" {
    source      = "apps/app1"
    destination = "/tmp"

# Copies the /tmp/app1 folder to Apache Webserver /var/www/html directory
  provisioner "remote-exec" {
    inline = [
      "sudo cp -r /tmp/app1 /var/www/html"

Step-05: Execute Terraform Commands

# Terraform Initialize
terraform init

# Terraform Validate
terraform validate

# Terraform Format
terraform fmt

# Terraform Plan
terraform plan

# Terraform Apply
terraform apply -auto-approve

# Verify
ssh -i ssh-keys/terraform-azure.pem azureuser@<PUBLIC-IP>
ls -lrt /tmp
ls -lrt /tmp/app1
ls -lrt /var/www/html
ls -lrt /var/www/html/app1

Step-06: Create new file locally in app1 folder

  • Create a new file named app1-file3.html
  • Also updated app1-file1.html with some additional info
  • file3.html
<h1>>App1 File3</h1
  • file1.html
<h1>>App1 File1 - Updated</h1
  • Sample terraform plan Output
# Terraform Plan Output
Terraform used the selected providers to generate the following execution plan. Resource actions
are indicated with the following symbols:
-/+ destroy and then create replacement

Terraform will perform the following actions:

  # null_resource.sync_app1_static must be replaced
-/+ resource "null_resource" "sync_app1_static" {
      ~ id       = "256904776759333943" -> (known after apply)
      ~ triggers = {
          - "always-update" = "2021-06-14T05:44:33Z"
        } -> (known after apply) # forces replacement

Plan: 1 to add, 0 to change, 1 to destroy.


Step-07: Execute Terraform plan and apply commands

# Terraform Plan
terraform plan
Observation: You should see changes for "null_resource.sync_app1_static" because trigger will have new timestamp when you fired the terraform plan command

# Terraform Apply
terraform apply -auto-approve

# Verify
ssh -i ssh-keys/terraform-azure.pem azureuser@<PUBLIC-IP>
ls -lrt /tmp
ls -lrt /tmp/app1
ls -lrt /var/www/html
ls -lrt /var/www/html/app1

Step-08: Clean-Up Resources & local working directory

# Terraform Destroy
terraform destroy -auto-approve

# Delete Terraform files 
rm -rf .terraform*
rm -rf terraform.tfstate*

Step-09: Roll back to Demo State

# Change-1: Delete app1-file3.html in apps/app1 folder
# Change-2: app1-file1.html - Remove updated text