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Buyer's Guide
Configuration Management
June 2022
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JonathanShilling - PeerSpot reviewer
System Analyst II at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
A good product for managing patches and updates that could be more robust and up-to-date
Pros and Cons
  • "Satellite gives administrators the ability to target deployments and only send out the updates or provision updates to certain groups."
  • "It cuts down significantly on the administrative time it takes to patch systems in a large environment."
  • "The product could have more diversity in what it is able to deploy and might do better if it was not dedicated to Red Hat products only."
  • "It has not been significantly updated in a while."

What is our primary use case?

Red Hat is an operating system. It has been out since 1995 or 1996 and went through a few iterations before it became a true enterprise solution. Basically, they changed their name and changed the version name back between about 2003 to 2005 when they came to that point.  

Satellite is a package management solution most commonly used to maintain patch levels and security updates. It is something like what SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) does on Windows servers and Windows workstations.  

What is most valuable?

Red Hat Satellite ties in with the Ansible Tower (software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment). Ansible Tower is part of the Red Hat automation suite. Ansible is a pre-solution open-source product that allows you to automate the building and deployment of something similar to what you get with Amazon when you go to order a server. Basically it is like cloud technology. It allows the developer to order a custom server using a playbook. It could be Windows or Red Hat or a couple of other different platform distributions. The Red Hat Satellite stores all of the packages — or it is mainly Satellite which stores the packages. It is a deployment tool. It can deploy updates and various other solutions. It is scriptable using Python scripting, and Perl scripting, those being the base languages.  

Satellite can automate most of your update solutions. It also gives the administrators the ability to target deployments and only send out the updates or provision updates to certain groups. Microsoft puts out brand new patches every month and that sort of frequency needs to be managed. With Satellite, you can say you want to deploy these brand new patches to your development boxes and see if it breaks anything before you do any damage in production. If it does not break anything, then the patches or updates can go on to QA for testing. If everything works fine there, then you can group promote it and automate it out to production. Satellite helps manage these deployment processes in a logical fashion.  

What needs improvement?

I do not really notice anything in the product that is a glaring omission or that absolutely needs to be added. There is always room for improvement, no matter what software package you are using. I would say the room for improvement to me would be to include more diversity in what it can deploy. Right now, it is specifically for Red Hat products. Being able to deploy other products would be a benefit. For example, say if you have Ubuntu running in your network. Being able to deploy packages for Ubuntu with Red Hat Satellite for that product would be nice and would give you more of a single pane of glass solution. Having a centralized repository for your Windows patching would be nice. SCCM is a much more expensive solution than Satellite. You have got the licensing issues and all that wonderful stuff to go through. Satellite is a pretty robust solution in handling its responsibilities. Although I really have not gone through it enough to tell you all the little quirks, it would be nice to see its capabilities expanded.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I am not positive for exactly how long the company has been using the solution. Myself, I have used it quite a few times over the years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think that Satellite is a pretty stable product. You download your repositories, check the versions you are running, download your packages, and then deploy them to your servers. The upgrades are really not a problem and the whole system is pretty controlled and stable.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Satellite is a scalable solution. It actually makes life a lot easier on your administrators. When you have a small company that has only about 50 to 100 Red Hat servers it may not be so valuable and that will depend on your management and your team. But in an environment where you have, say, 500 to 1000 servers, it cuts down significantly on the administrative time it takes to patch all those systems. I am talking about the number of servers and not the number of users. Because you can deploy the patches straight from Satellite, allowing for more automation, it does a good job and it is an efficient and dedicated tool.  

The biggest upgrade you could talk about and the one thing I would like to see added to Red Hat Satellite is demonstrated by how Oracle Linux handles upgrades. I am not a huge fan of Oracle Linux in general, but the method they use for applying patches is one feature that Oracle does use that is really nice. It allows a case splice. Basically that creates a scenario where it allows patches and kernel upgrades to be applied to the server without forcing a reboot. If Red Hat Satellite could implement something like that it would improve the product.  

In our environment, there are maybe three or four people who are generally used to maintain the solution or deploy the updates. That accounts for the total number of Red Hat administrators.  

How are customer service and technical support?

On a scale of one to ten where ten is the best, I would say that I would give Red Hat support about an eight. The high-end of eight out of ten. Say eight-point-five or eight-point-seven. Tech support across the board with tech companies is kind of spotty. For example, I have dealt with Microsoft in the past. I have been both in discussions with Windows systems engineers and Red Hat systems engineers. My experience with Microsoft is that I actually did more in finding my own solutions that I felt I had to share with the Microsoft tech support team because they had no clue. It did not really bolster my confidence with them when I was supporting the support team. With Red Hat, you can go out to forums and user groups and find out a lot of information before you even contact tech support. When you contact tech support, they usually have an answer.  

Red Hat support is clearly better and has more knowledgeable people than Microsoft. That might not be much of an endorsement, but I am happy with the way they support their product.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for the product was pretty much straightforward. As long as you get an enterprise-level license using a proper subscription, you really do not have any problem with the installation and getting the system up and running.  

What about the implementation team?

The installation is pretty much straightforward. If you have dealt with Linux — and in particular with Red Hat — it is a pretty easy deal to do. The more difficult part of the deployment is just a matter of registering all your servers to Satellite. That can be a bit of a pain. It is not too bad. If you have already registered the servers with the Red Hat subscription service — as you would through their internet-based subscription — changing that can be daunting sometimes. If you are not really familiar with the scripting languages it is not so easy to do.  

As far as how long it took to do, I was not here when they initially set it up. I was not present for the original deployment at this company and all my experience as far as the setup is based on my prior experience and studying it by myself. I did that a while ago so some things may have changed.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Satellite is usually bundled with the Red Hat premium-level support. So you can figure — depending on the number of servers — it can be from a couple of thousand dollars per year to over $100000 per year. It is absolutely dependent on how many servers you are using.  

The effect is that there are additional costs for the support and all that stuff but the license itself comes as a single total cost. That is the license being a total cost for Red Hat servers bundled in with premium support.  

If you have more than 50 servers, I would say using Satellite would be a boon. Depending on the number of administrators you have hired and the number of servers you are using, it can be cost-effective or not. But that goes with almost any software solution that you use, across the board.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

SCCM is a package management solution most commonly used to maintain patch levels and security updates on Windows servers and Windows workstations. It is not really the same thing as Satellite but it is a similar product category piece offered by Microsoft to do a similar thing that is comparable to what Satellite does. It just does it for another platform that more people are probably familiar with.  

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Red Hat Satellite as about a seven or seven-and-a-half out of ten. It could probably be a bit more robust in some areas. They have not, to my knowledge, done a major revision update in a while. So I would say about a seven or seven-and-a-half is fair.  

Red Hat has been moving toward an Ansible solution more than the Satellite solution in recent years. That is not really a problem for me. It is just that I would like to see the Satellite server product more updated than it has been. It is a good product for what it does. It is just out-of-date.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Technical Marketing Manager at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 10
Easy to deploy, offers embedded monitoring, and is very stable
Pros and Cons
  • "When it comes to managing both Red Hat and SUSE environments, it provides the support for live patching, which is something I really, really appreciate."
  • "I really would like to have a broader library of VCP's or playbooks that I can deploy."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a freelancer and I have a number of customers and I need to patch their systems. The beauty of SUSE Manager is that it supports different Linux systems such as Red Hat and SentOS, SLES, and Ubuntu.

What is most valuable?

When it comes to managing both Red Hat and SUSE environments, it provides the support for live patching, which is something I really, really appreciate.

The other thing that I use a lot as well is embedded monitoring. You can use these cool tools that you use in the cloud, such as Grafana Prometheus, to do monitoring of your system. 

Actually deploying stuff is quite easy.

What needs improvement?

I really would like to have a broader library of VCP's or playbooks that I can deploy. That's the only thing I would sometimes really need. I'd like a proper code library.

I would like to see some AI or machine learning or some mechanism that can predict my potential errors. For instance, if I'm running out of a space in my server X maybe it can raise an alert and tell me, "with the current consumption of a storage in the server in 10 days, you're going to run out of space." 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution since April of 2021.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's quite stable. Usually, even though I manage different customers and I have sometimes connectivity problems with the VPN, I haven't had to reboot the system or the services whatsoever. I'm quite happy with that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I can't really speak to the scalability. I don't have a big environment. I have multiple small environments and I can connect easily to any of them, therefore, I'm happy.

I would increase my users if my customers added more servers, which may happen. I'm based in Spain and usually, the fiscal year tends to start in January and people are getting more money for the first quarter. I may get some servers for my customers or add some more customers to my list. I don't know if that will happen or not.

How are customer service and support?

I only opened a case when I did the update. They pointed me to the documentation and I felt silly as I could have also found that on the website without them. Beyond that, I didn't need to open any cases, which is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I also deal with Ansible and Salt. What I have are those solutions embedded into SUSE Manager as SUSE Manager supports both Salt and Ansible with the latest release. That was my driver to include 4.2 in my roadmap instead of just sticking with 4.1. I'd say that SUSE Manager goes beyond configuration management. Sometimes I also use Ansible as a standalone to string some VMs to the cloud and so on. That's great. However, my traditional configurations with Salt or Ansible are just not enough, which is why I also have SUSE.

How was the initial setup?

In terms of the initial setup process, I inherited the solution from someone who just passed over the business for me. I did not need to set it up. However, in relation to the maintenance process, I had to deploy one as we had this migration from SUSE Manager 4.1 to 4.2. It's not an initial setup. I had to spin another 4.2 box and then I migrated the content of my 4.1 environment to my 4.2 environment. It was quite smooth. The documentation was quite nice. I just followed the steps and I had no problems.

What was our ROI?

I haven't done an ROI evaluation yet as we have this new pricing model. What I can say is the savings are going to be good as it's not the same to deal with one tool as opposed to dealing with three tools. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't have the exact cost on hand right now as that's something I tend to negotiate in my new year. Thus far, I didn't pay for it. That's going to happen mid-January or something like that. What I was told, by the person who had it before me was that when he made the comparison with other tools, it was cheaper due to the fact that now I basically have the SUSE Manager to manage all environments. In the past, he had Spacewalk to manage the SUSE stuff, and then he had Satellite to manage the record stuff and he had Landscape to manage the Ubuntu stuff. When he consolidated everything, he saved a lot of money.

One of the biggest benefits would be that it incorporates multiple managers in one platform saving you on licensing for multiple solutions. That said, at this time, I don't even know how much it's going to cost as they've changed the pricing this year. I got an email back in the summer saying that, in the past, I would pay for the server and then all the clients. Now, I don't have to pay for the server and then the clients anymore. I just have a flat fare where I can deploy as many servers as I want and everything will be included at the same price. 

The reality is that the server that I'm using right now is only 12 GBs of RAM and I'm considering doing an upgrade to 24GBs. When you include more functionalities and more features, you certainly need more resources. For me, the hardware would be the only real additional cost.

What other advice do I have?

I am a SUSE partner. 

I have a central server and then I'm connected to the VPN. That way, I can connect to all different customers.

I'd advise new users to certainly read the documentation, as that's what I tend to skip. However, it's an important step. Try to automate as much as you can. One of the most powerful things that I noticed when I arrived, was that it was underutilized, and there are all of these automation capabilities that SUSE Manager has. It's saved just so much time for me.

I'd rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Principal Project Engineer at a computer software company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Automatic installation for complex deployments and environments, with good workflow support
Pros and Cons
  • "You can design your workflows for your needs."
  • "The stability of the solution can be improved."

What is our primary use case?

Indirectly, we are providing solutions for our clients. We are consultants for our customers and act as system integrators.

What is most valuable?

I like that really complex deployments are possible with it.

It's very good. You have everything you need.

You can design your workflows for your needs. You can do so much more, it's not just an automatic installation tool. It's a real deployment tool. I can do the complete deployment with everything that is possible.

What needs improvement?

The initial setup can be simplified. It's a bit complex.

The stability of the solution can be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Automic Continuous Delivery Automation for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are some bugs. For example, during the design of a workflow, important information is lost, it vanishes. We thought that we were ready, only to find that the information wasn't completely saved as we expected.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have less than ten people using this solution in our organization.

How are customer service and technical support?

Personally, I have not contacted technical support.

How was the initial setup?

Getting started and working took some time. It was not easy.

There are many concepts behind it.

We have an in-house team to maintain this solution.

What about the implementation team?

We had the help of a consultant to help with the initial installation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Customers often complain about the price.

There are several open-source tools available that can be used, but they don't have all of the capabilities.

There are other tools also available with similar capabilities but are commercial tools.

What other advice do I have?

Both Ansible and Atomic are good. Automic is more for complex installation for the enterprise. If I want to deploy applications such as Linux, AIX, Windows Server, and a Database and I have a complex environment, it's better to use Automic.

If I just have a Linux machine, it is best to use Ansible. I have heard that Ansible has improved its capabilities in the last couple of years.

We are very happy with this solution but the customers are not happy with the price, therefore I would rate Automic Continuous Delivery Automation an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Software Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to manage, reliable, good automation, and has good support
Pros and Cons
  • "GitLab integrates well with other platforms."
  • "It should be used by a larger number of people. They should raise awareness."

What is our primary use case?

GitLab is used for pipeline development, automation, and deployment.

What is most valuable?

It is easy to manage.

GitLab integrates well with other platforms.

The automation is good.

What needs improvement?

While I don't have any specific complaints about GitLab, there are always things that could be better.

Better support, for example, could be provided. The technology could be made simpler to use, it should not be overly complex.

It should be used by a larger number of people. They should raise awareness.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with GitLab for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

GitLab has a good level of stability. I haven't had many problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

GitLab is used by between 500 and 600 people.

How are customer service and support?

Support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used a variety of tools, including Ansible, Terraform, Bitbucket, and Bamboo.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't mind the price because I use the free version.

The licensing fee could be less expensive.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution to anyone who is interested in using it.

GitLab is very good. I would rate GitLab a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Configuration Management
June 2022
Get our free report covering Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware, and other competitors of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform. Updated: June 2022.
610,190 professionals have used our research since 2012.