SaltStack Review

Salt Formulas help to get the configuration needed to install any new package.

Valuable Features

The Salt Formulas are very, very helpful, as they help to get the configuration needed to install any new package and configuring the same; very, very simple and easy.

Improvements to My Organization

We have scaled from two servers to about 140 servers in a very short period of time. This would have been a nightmare had it not been for the SaltStack configurations.

Room for Improvement

I think debugging can be improved. In case of errors, the devOps team finds it difficult to read the Python stack traces at times.

Although the Salt Formulas have matured recently, they still have some glitches. They are open-source contributions. Every Salt Formula has two parts: 1) pillar data and 2) Salt configuration. Both have to go hand in hand.

Sometimes the Salt configuration was found to have a few bugs that do not align with the pillar data. The stack traces thrown do not help much and require a bit of experience to deal with those situations. We end up correcting either the pillar data or the Salt configuration.

This is by no means an issue with the SaltStack software. Since it’s written in Python, the stack trace thrown for any error needs some level of expertise to deal with.

One example we found was that one of the Salt Formulas was using a Salt module in a particular version. Upon upgrade, the Salt module was no longer part of the default package. It took my team some time to realize what had happened, because the Python stack trace was not pointing to the exact problem in hand but would point to a random Salt configuration location.

Use of Solution

I have been using this solution for more than two years now.

Stability Issues

I have not encountered any stability issues.

Scalability Issues

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

Customer Service and Technical Support

We did not use technical support. As it was open sourced, we developed the required technical support in-house.

Previous Solutions

We were not using any other solution for our configuration management.

Initial Setup

The initial ramp-up period to understand the concepts took time. Post that, it’s a very easy-to-use solution, especially after the Salt Formulas have matured.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Its open-sourced, so we do not use licencing, and its free to use.

Other Solutions Considered

We evaluated Puppet and Chef before deciding on SaltStack.

Other Advice

Ansible and SaltStack are very good solutions. I prefer SaltStack as its been developed from the ground up and is a lot better than Puppet and Chef.

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