Terraform Workspaces 101

Allan Denot
DNX Labs
Published in
3 min readMay 4, 2019


The art of deploying the same stack multiple times without code duplication

Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

Let’s say you create a network foundation using our module:

You deploy it:

terraform init
terraform apply

All good. You get the resources deployed to your AWS account, in the us-east-1 region.

Now let’s say you need to deploy the exact same stack into another account?

You could duplicate the files and deploy again, but now you have 2 code bases to maintain. 🤔

That’s where workspaces comes to play.

Before deploying for the first time, let’s create a workspace:

We created a workspace called labs-us-east-1 to represent the account (labs) and region (us-east-1) we are deploying. Basic commands are:

# shows existing workspace and which one is selected (*):
terraform workspace list
# creates and selects a new workspace:
terraform workspace new <workspace name>
# select an existing workspace:
terraform workspace select <workspace name>

Next step, just deploy normally:

terraform init
terraform apply

The state file will be saved under a folder with the workspace name:

Note: If you use the S3 backend to store state files remotely in an S3 bucket, workspaces work the same way. It creates a prefix in your bucket, usually:


Now, next time you want to deploy this stack into another account or region, simply type:

terraform workspace new prod-us-east-1# switch credentials to production account, and:
terraform init
terraform apply

Choosing parameters per workspace

Our terraform code we have a variable vpc_cidr = “” . What if we want to have a different value per workspace?

Let’s create a special type of variable called local and select the value based on the current workspace:

The local env is a dictionary where its keys match workspace names.

terraform.workspace is a built-in that returns the current workspace name. We use this to select from the dictionary at:

workspace = "${local.env[terraform.workspace]}"

So local.workspace["vpc_cidr"] will resolve to:

  • when workspace is labs-us-east-1
  • when workspace is prod-us-east-1

And same for the other parameters name and multi_nat in our example.


Hopefully, this article was helpful in some way.

Please leave your feedback below as well as anything you would like to see added.

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Allan Denot
DNX Labs

Cloud, container platforms and occasionally ML