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What is SaltStack?

SaltStack also known as Salt, is a cloud orchestration and configuration management tool that is used to provision infrastructure and configure cloud instances. It enables you to automate server provisioning and management tasks. SaltStack is designed to build, scale-up, and manage thousands of nodes. With SaltStack, you can automate repetitive tasks to eliminate manual processes and reduce human error in IT infrastructure.

You can compare SaltStack with other configuration management tools like puppet, Chef, and Ansible. SaltStack is very effective for high scalability and has an active community. It is python based, which offers a low learning curve for developers.

SaltStack tutorials

How does SaltStack work?

SaltStack uses a server-agent communication model to configure and manage its nodes. This means SaltStack needs a master-server (salt-master) and you need to install a salt agent on the target host called salt minions.

Salt is a Python-based configuration management tool that uses a messaging system to facilitate its connectivity with its target nodes or salt minions. This enables Salt to run thousands of simultaneous tasks with its multi-treated design. The master server acts as a central control bus for the clients, which is creating a high-speed, secure, and bi-directional communication layer for your group of systems (minions).

Salt is declarative, which means that it is aware of the state of your infrastructure. SaltStack writes down the state of a server. You can define the state of what your platform should be. SaltStack checks the newly created state and checks which parts of that state is already available. It determines what it needs to do to get to that new state. So instead of running all the tasks of the script again that procedural tools do like Ansible, SaltStack only adjusts the changes necessary to get the new state. This makes SaltStack more efficient and intelligent as other tools.

Deploy applications with SaltStack

Deploying a new and consistent version of an application across your platform can be hard. With SaltStack you can copy files, install packages, add/change, and update configurations on remote hosts. Automating the deployment of your application by scripting it with SaltStack gives you the ability to repeat consistent deployments with ease. Saving you time and giving you a consistent update cycle.

Enforce security policies with SaltStack

Using the power of automation, you can enforce security standards across your cloud infrastructure with ease. Automating your security measures means you can minimize human error and make sure your entire platform provisioned and maintained with to the same level of security. Because SaltStack remembers the state of every node, you can quickly push new security patches across your entire platform.

Provision Cloud infrastructure using Salt Cloud

SaltStack focuses primarily on configuration management, but it also includes a module called Salt Cloud to provision cloud infrastructure. This way, you’re able to provision instances in the cloud and immediately bring them under the management of Salt. Salt Cloud automatically connects your new instance to your Salt master after deployment.

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Searching for an SaltStack alternative? You can find a lot of orchestration tools on our Cloud Orchestration page. If you are interested in other use cases you can read our use cases page.

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