Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

IT automation with SaltStack

Always on Command

Article from ADMIN 63/2021
By , By
SaltStack is a fast and reliable modular toolbox written in Python that contains ready-made modules for many configuration management purposes.

In 2013, we were faced with a move to a new data center, combined with a change in infrastructure – away from classic bare-metal servers to well-dimensioned virtual machines (VMs). Until then, Puppet was used for configuration management, which brought with it many architecture-related problems and shortcomings. On the other hand, not all Puppet manifests could be immediately replaced, which is why the only solution was one that could be used in parallel.

After some comparisons, the decision was made to go with SaltStack, which even then came with its own Puppet module, allowing us to control Puppet from within SaltStack. Additionally, SaltStack (Salt for short) impressed with its modular architecture and high speed. Where Ansible and Chef's runtime was often unpredictable, SaltStack reliably delivered results after just a few seconds – regardless of whether it served 10 or 100 hosts. For example, load testing of the then-new platform was done with 300 Amazon Web Services (AWS) VMs rolled out by Salt Cloud in a matter of minutes.

SaltStack can be run in many ways: from the classic server-client architecture – master-minion in Salt parlance – to a serverless mode (masterless). SaltStack also demonstrates flexibility when it comes to the question of connectivity. It supports ZeroMQ, SSH, or a plain vanilla TCP mode (e.g., TLS). Proxy modules can also be used to connect systems that do not support SSH or Python. The proxy module then translates the Salt syntax into commands compatible for the target system.

SaltStack enables this versatility by using a modular design from the start. Whether it is a matter of describing desired states, establishing connections, performing actions, or displaying outputs: Everything is modular, interchangeable, and expandable. Many useful default settings are configured, and the admin can simply get started without any serious configuration overhead.

Many an admin never gets to see the depths of the

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