In my previous post I showed how to enable debug logs. Today I want to present how to improve terraform plan and terraform apply speed by configuring parallelism.

Terraform by default runs 10 concurrent operations. To reduce execution time on plan or apply operation we can increase this parameter.

By increasing paralellism you can hist rate limit your provider. Some cloud providers (like Cloudflare) informs about number of API request allowed in period of time. Hitting the limit can impact your deployments.


The easiest way to increase parallelism in Terraform Cloud for Remote Execution is TFE_PARALLELISM variable. It just require a number. To set this you need to perform those steps:

  • Select your workspace,
  • Go to Variables tab,
  • Add variable in Workspace variables panel and create TFE_PARALLELISM variable: Workspace TFE_PARALLELISM variable

    Ensure you have selected Environment variable button

The change should be available on next execution.

Manage parallelism for each stage of execution

Terraform CLI allows to configure parallelism differently per each command(terrafom plan,terraform apply or terraform destroy). In Terraform Cloud we also can do this. In these cases, use TF_CLI_ARGS_plan="-parallelism=<N>" or TF_CLI_ARGS_apply="-parallelism=<N>" environment variables instead TFE_PARALLELISM.

I prefer this way because it allows to be more granular. I want to run plan fast because it makes request about every resource.

To set TF_CLI_ARGS_plan="-parallelism=<N>" or TF_CLI_ARGS_apply="-parallelism=<N>" parameters perform same steps as in instruction written above for TFE_PARALLELISM.

Manage the variables in a single place

I showed how to configure variable per each workspace. Terraform Cloud allows to configure Variable set which can be attached to each workspace, and we don’t need to repeat ourself for each workspace.

To configure Variable set do:

  • Go to your organization Settings
  • Select Variable set tab and click button Create variable set
  • In Variables panel you need to define your variables

What left is to attach variables set to your workspace or you can enable this set to all workspaces in organization.

Variables set has lower precedence than workspace variables. Definition of the same variable in workspace will be used in execution. Here you can read more.