SaltStack Review

It ties into VMware and allows us to script the process of setting up an entire infrastructure.

Valuable Features

The most valuable feature is Salt Cloud due to its ability to tie into VMware, as well as Salt Orchestration, because it allows us to script the process of setting up an entire infrastructure.

Improvements to My Organization

This product has saved us time in standing up new servers, as well as allowed us to automate the deployment of these servers and the applications that run on them.

Room for Improvement

  • Documentation can be hard to find and examples aren't as detailed. In Salt, you can use modules in an SLS file, as well as via command line. A lot of the time, the official documentation only has a command line example and you've got to dig around through third-party sites to find examples of using modules in an SLS file. It can also be difficult to find documentation on Jinja templating through Salt’s website, as well. Basic examples are given but anything more complex is lacking.
  • Salt Cloud Windows support isn't that mature.
  • Salt Orchestration lacks logging when states are nested.

Use of Solution

I have used it for 1.5 years.

Stability Issues

Occasionally minions would time out and not return a response, although the Salt state would still run. Increasing the timeout helped, but this is more of a design concern than an overall stability issue.

Scalability Issues

So far no issues with scalability were encountered.

Customer Service and Technical Support

I haven't utilized technical support. The forums seem to be somewhat helpful in suggesting workarounds to issues caused by lack of features, but more detailed steps on implementing those workarounds would be helpful (e.g., setting a static IP on Windows VMs setup with Salt Cloud).

Previous Solutions

I've used Puppet at a previous job. Salt is the tool that was in place at my current job.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Salt is open source.

Other Solutions Considered

The product was already in use.

Other Advice

Define the scope of what you need a configuration management tool to use and then look at all available options and the potential drawbacks of those options. Nothing can beat hiring a sys admin with experience in different technologies.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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