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SaltStack OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

SaltStack is #6 ranked solution in top Network Automation tools and #12 ranked solution in top Configuration Management tools. PeerSpot users give SaltStack an average rating of 8.0 out of 10. SaltStack is most commonly compared to VMware Aria Automation: SaltStack vs VMware Aria Automation. SaltStack is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 69% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 21% of all views.
Buyer's Guide

Download the Configuration Management Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: September 2022

What is SaltStack?

SaltStack is an intelligent IT automation platform that can manage, secure, and optimize any infrastructure—on-prem, in the cloud, or at the edge. It’s built on a unique and powerful event-driven automation engine that detects events in any system and reacts intelligently to them, making it an extremely effective solution for managing large, complex environments. And with the newly launched SecOps offering, SaltStack can detect security vulnerabilities and non-compliant, mis-configured systems. As soon as an issue is detected, this powerful automation helps you and your team remediate it, keeping your infrastructure securely configured, compliant, and up-to-date.

SaltStack Customers

IBM Cloud

TD Bank

ScotiaBank

LinkedIn

eBay

Liberty Mutual

Target

Hyatt

Cyxtera

NetApp

Facebook

Lyft

SaltStack Video

Archived SaltStack Reviews (more than two years old)

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reviewer1300365 - PeerSpot reviewer
General Manager - Site Reliability and Software Enginee at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Easily identify and manage compliance and vulnerability issues in a single, centralized view
Pros and Cons
  • "SaltStack has given us the ability to deal with systems at scale and rectify issues at scale."
  • "There is a little bit of pain when it comes to libraries and what is needed to run the product."

What is our primary use case?

We are using SaltStack SecOps for a rather large fleet of VMs that include a mixture of both Linux and Windows, with many different OS versions for each. It is used to view the compliance of the systems within our infrastructure.

This product brings all of the rich data that it collects under once central view. It makes the remediation of compliance or security issues quick and easy to understand. Being able to see this data allows us to be agile and we are able to make changes on a massive scale, thus reducing the manpower needed to implement changes. 

How has it helped my organization?

SaltStack has given us the ability to deal with systems at scale and rectify issues at scale. This, along with the fact that SaltStack is a event engine, allows teams to be able to to creatively attack problems and view problems within our infrastructure.

The SecOps product allows us to see where there may be issues, what a current patch level may be at, and what the recommended patch is.

As far as compliance, SecOps is able to reduce the time it takes us to verify our systems are compliant with policy.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to see both compliance and vulnerabilities in a dashboard view. Being able to see that data in one place is a real game-changer. This, along with the rich metadata from our systems allows us to be able to drill down to very specific facts about each and every system. With this level of insight, we are able to make changes both at scale as well as at an individual system or application level.

SaltStack SecOps has the ability to react to events and also allows us to start reacting automatically to issues that might be in that infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

SaltStack is still growing, and so there are still those growing pains.

Sometimes in order to get the functionality you want, you need to update to the latest and greatest of the software.  For companies that traditionally like to wait for bugs to be found, this can be a bit painful.   Most of the downsides are because the product is growing and is becoming more and more useful, so I can't complain too much about that.  It's evident that SaltStack is listening to it's customers and wants to create a fully functional piece of software.

Buyer's Guide
Configuration Management
September 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about SaltStack, Red Hat, Microsoft and others in Configuration Management. Updated: September 2022.
632,779 professionals have used our research since 2012.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using SaltStack for three months.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This product seems to handle our scale issues so far.

How are customer service and support?

From our experience, there are not very many issues that we've found with the product in of itself. I'm sure that as we need to scale out, there may be some help/guidance that we need to inquire of support/professional services, but I'm confident that those groups within SaltStack will be able to provide the guidance that is needed to be successful.

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

Prior to this, we used Puppet/SaltStack open-source. The Puppet solution had scale issues, and SaltStack Open Source didn't have the SecOps product

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options before choosing this solution.

What other advice do I have?

SaltStack, when viewed in the light that it is an event engine, is a very powerful tool.

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.
PeerSpot user
it_user535242 - PeerSpot reviewer
Head of Operations and Infrastructure at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Gave us automation tools that allowed us to standardize our environment.
Pros and Cons
  • "The ability to programmatically describe the desired state of a single, or an entire fleet of servers, on-premises, and in a cloud environment."
  • "A hardened set of tests would be much appreciated."

What is most valuable?

The ability to programmatically describe the desired state of a single, or an entire fleet of servers, on-premises, and in a cloud environment.

How has it helped my organization?

SaltStack gave us very useful automation tools that allowed us to standardize our environment, move at a much faster pace through repeatable deployments, and self-documentation of our infrastructure.

It allows us to describe the desired state of our entire fleet of servers through simple to understand syntax and templates all available at a single place.

This is great for things like documenting what a single machine or a group of machine does and how they are configured. It is also good in the event that one of them is lost and a new one needs to be provisioned quickly.

Instead of setting it up by hand, we end up telling it "you are this type of machine" and SaltStack will take care of ensuring that the machine becomes what is expected.

It also means that any machine of "this type" will be setup in a consistent manner thus avoiding unexpected surprises that could potentially become the cause of outages.

What needs improvement?

Each new version seems to bring a new set of bugs to the table and upgrading is risky, especially for a tool at the core of the operations and infrastructure.

A hardened set of tests would be much appreciated.

We have encountered many bugs during upgrades in the past and it seemed to me like those could have been caught by the developers at a much earlier stage then after doing a widespread release.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used this solution three years in production

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have encountered several issues when we upgraded to 2015.8. Some of those were eventually fixed by the community and through fixes we submitted to the project.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have managed a fleet of hundreds of servers without any scalability issues on the horizon.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not requested technical support.

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

We evaluated Chef, CF Engine, and Puppet and we ultimately decided on SaltStack because:

  • It is written in Python: Introspecting the code base, committing fixes and improving on the tools were easy for us to do.
  • The amount of tools already baked in the product and the extensive list of formulas made available by the community.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was simple enough to get started and see the benefits that the solution brings. There are many tutorials available to get someone started.

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

Unfortunately, our experience is limited to the open-source (community) version. We have no information in regards to the enterprise offering.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated CF Engine, Chef, Puppet, Capistrano, and Fabric.

What other advice do I have?

Take some time to learn the types of problems it can solve and you will easily see the benefits that it can bring.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
Configuration Management
September 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about SaltStack, Red Hat, Microsoft and others in Configuration Management. Updated: September 2022.
632,779 professionals have used our research since 2012.
it_user674058 - PeerSpot reviewer
Sr Engineer/Team Lead at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Serves to automate state, execution, and remediation.
Pros and Cons
  • "I want to build automation that is intelligent, part of the fabric of our environment, and is somewhat self-sustaining. I think SaltStack can help me do this."
  • "Web UI."

What is most valuable?

  • Bulk/Remote execution
  • Event/Reactor system
  • Configuration Management

These features serve as the most critical pieces for automating anything, not just state, but also execution and remediation.

I don’t want to build automation that just does a thing or two. I want to build automation that is intelligent, part of the fabric of our environment, and is somewhat self-sustaining. I think SaltStack can help me do this.

How has it helped my organization?

SaltStack provides the capability necessary to truly streamline our SDLC and environment management. From a high level, it allows coders to code, testers to test (automated testing too), and admins to admin in the most inter-connected and effective way possible.

What needs improvement?

  • Web UI
  • Maintenance of their code

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are some issues here and there, such as nuances with Windows and minions ‘falling asleep’, but its manageable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give technical support a rating of 8/10.

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

I was using more of a Frankenstein automation solution previously, and the reason for switching was the capability of SaltStack, performance, and ramp up time (ease of use).

How was the initial setup?

The setup was pretty straightforward. It took some time getting familiar with all the configuration options and playing around with pillars and grains. On the whole, it was relatively easy to get going.

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

I think they are going to have a tough time with the Enterprise licensing. So much can be done with the Open Source side, and especially for smaller shops. I personally think the pricing for Enterprise is hard to justify.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Chef, Ansible, and Puppet.

What other advice do I have?

Do it and take full advantage of its capability. Be creative and automate everything you can with it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user560271 - PeerSpot reviewer
Principal Systems Engineer Lead Dev Ops at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
We can deploy and redeploy code and platform. We can also maintain system compliance.

What is most valuable?

  • Tool for Infrastructure as Code (IAC)
  • Allows you to preserve the status of the target machine
  • Allows you to version a target machine as a SaltStack recipe/status “code”
  • Versions can be stored and replicated
  • Offers immutability, versioning, and state reuse

How has it helped my organization?

We can do the following from the same tool:

  • Deploy code
  • Redeploy code and platform
  • Maintain system compliance

What needs improvement?

  • Security
  • Privilege separation
  • Multi-user capability
  • Public audit: There is no public audit of the code. Master/minion connections are subject to hijacking, privilege escalation, and/or information leaks. There is no official statement or study available about this.
  • Installations: The installations sometimes need tuning to be secure, as some parts need special privileges.

  • There’s no option for multi-user or RBAC. Every user can do everything.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We encountered a stability issue related to the correct master dimensioning.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not used the technical support.

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

I am not aware of any previous solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was smooth. We were already acquainted with this kind of tool.

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

We have no specific comments regarding this issue.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Chef, Ansible, and Puppet.

What other advice do I have?

Adopt it in full, including the API.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user538242 - PeerSpot reviewer
Freelance at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
In liaison with OpenStack, orchestration for Linux machines is valuable. Hands down, the main thing for improvement is Windows orchestration.

What is most valuable?

Configuration management: We were using SaltStack for orchestration in liaison with OpenStack. It was good for Linux machines, but the Windows experience was fragile.

How has it helped my organization?

They put in a few patches for Windows machine orchestration, but the experience was still painful.

What needs improvement?

Hands down, the main thing for improvement is Windows orchestration. Repo is very limited and multiple issues occur when installing vendor products.

Other areas would be to build test cases, with ease, for states. I haven’t found one. SaltStack had a focus only on Linux from the very beginning. Windows has always been a sore point. The repo for Windows was very inadequate and if I am right, I heard a SaltStack guy himself say that he is not very fond of Windows orchestration.

Another area of improvement is stability. Vendor products that required multiple customization had many handicaps, such as lack of LDAP or Active Directory support and, biggest of all, inadequate repo for Windows states.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used this solution for almost two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were lots of stability issues, and we did hire a consultant from SaltStack.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We did have to upgrade the infra running salt-master quite frequently.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was complex. The salt-master topography was master-minion, but then expanded to syndic, then back to master-minion. We did have to juggle, but that may be the shifting overall cloud architecture. It looked more like a chicken-egg problem, but we did have to revise the Salt architecture frequently.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I was not in the decision-making process, but I was told they evaluated Ansible. I am not sure the degree of depth in which it was evaluated.

What other advice do I have?

Stay away from Windows orchestration. Have an alternative for orchestrating Windows machines. Think about how to prepare test cases when things change. The breaks spread like wildfire.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Jeremy  Mcmillan - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Administrator, Deployment Specialist Consultant at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Configuration management solution that allows conditional remote control operations on different targeted infrastructures.

What is most valuable?

  • Hybrid/multi-cloud infrastructure automation capability
  • Configuration management
  • Complex orchestrations
  • Imperative programming style
  • Declarative “states” DSL
  • Simple YAML syntax
  • Vitality of open source community involvement
  • Infrastructure remote control: This fans out from a single command to many (from a handful to potentially thousands of) target machines or VMs. The fine-grained targeting features make it easy to do just what you want on just the infrastructure you want affected, with mechanical consistency. The complex orchestration capabilities allow smart conditional remote control operations on different targeted infrastructure, driven by either, or both, automatic reaction to events, or manual triggers or commands. These are the critical features needed to implement continuous delivery of anything anywhere.

How has it helped my organization?

Preparation of Hybris Commerce HY300 training laboratory environments and Hybris Expert Services demo infrastructure went from days of effort down to hours. Reliability and consistency is no longer a concern.

What needs improvement?

Code maturity is reaching a point where refactoring some internals will be important to maintain the rate of improvement. The software has evolved at a breakneck pace, and there is a lot of legacy code which needs refactoring and cleanup.

This doesn’t affect the operation of the software as much as it affects the learning curve for the open source community. If the code gets messier and messier, then community involvement will taper off.

Major architectural features, like the transport system for example, have been subsequently refactored. When I wrote the review, SaltStack had decided to replace ZeroMQ for extremely large scale operations, and embarked on a novel approach RAET. This appeared by early estimation over engineered and under tested, and lost momentum. Without missing a beat, SaltStack rolled out an asynchronous TCP transport option that was both simpler and more scalable. This was received well by large operations depending on SaltStack. This is a major refactoring win, and a testament to the maturation of the software.

Contributing to SaltStack could be difficult as their internal development processes matured. One symptom observable from community contributor not long before I wrote my original review, was git history rewriting. I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole about why this is bad, but I will say that this hasn’t to my knowledge happened since. I once worried this difficulty would be a barrier to progress at SaltStack, but I am no longer worried.

In particular, I was working with salt-cloud when I authored that review. Since then I have seen considerable attention paid to refactoring code I thought was problematic. They have a mature API deprecation process, which is not 100% executed (things get deprecation warnings, but the deprecated code can remain longer than declared). Even that has been improved, and in the mean time a lot of new functionality has appeared without affecting the quality of existing code.

Conventions around using salt, like formulas, testing methodology, and new functionality like the Salt Package Manager have added to the maturity of SaltStack. These conventions enable commercial and open source contributions to the SaltStack DevOps ecosystem, increasing the rate that SaltStack accretes capabilities without adding stresses to the core development at SaltStack.


For how long have I used the solution?

We have used this solution for a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is excellent.

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

I have used Chef. Chef is harder to teach, so it is more difficult to build an internal community around the toolset.

How was the initial setup?

There are multiple ways to do the initial setup. The documentation is clear, but could be better organized.

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

It’s free until you need support. It will deliver a lot of value prior to production exposure, but you should plan to get an enterprise SaltStack license by the time your DevOps iterations can deliver reliably to QA.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you have cross-functional collaboration between your development teams and operations teams.

Develop configuration as code in parallel with code development.

Use SaltStack to deploy and control both development sandbox environments and also full scale test and production environments.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We’re actually not a customer/vendor relationship. At this point we’re developing and spearheading best practices through demonstration and documentation as open source collaborators. We expect to sell some consulting services to help bootstrap and integrate SaltStack enabled DevOps for custom Hybris Commerce solutions.
PeerSpot user
it_user560214 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Consultant at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Enables agentless application deployment.

What is most valuable?

Agentless application deployment is the main reason for faster setup and easy deployments.

What needs improvement?

  • It doesn't have a GUI to manage VMs.
  • Some Python modules had issues which I think will be fixed in newer versions.
  • Other configuration management tools, like Chef and Puppet, have a web interface to perform certain tasks on instances where an application is deployed.
  • We can scale and schedule based on traffic. If you want to recreate/add a new instance, you can immediately do it from web interface. This was missing on earlier versions we tried.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for three months as part of a PoC.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How is customer service and technical support?

We used open source community support.

How was the initial setup?

The installation was straightforward, especially the master and minion configuration. This configuration was time saving and led to a faster, automated application deployment.

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

We didn't go for pricing model, as we chose to do a PoC using an open source version.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

This product is in good shape now and the community support is vibrant. I learned a lot from them while implementing it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user538251 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Full Stack Web Developer at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
We have moved from managing a handful of individual servers to being able to manage large scale collections.

What is most valuable?

States, pillars, and custom modules have all taken us a long way in achieving our goals. There is great depth to it and we're looking forward to exploring all of its features.

How has it helped my organization?

We are moving from managing a handful of individual servers to being able to manage large scale collections. If we need to fit a particular use case, SaltStack makes it very easy to provision a new cloud instance quickly and almost effortlessly.

What needs improvement?

There are a number of bugs and regression errors that can make it frustrating at times, but given the flexibility so far I have found adequate workarounds.

The GITFS is flawed and requires a lot more work. We were able to construct our own workaround with local clones of all git repositories that are refreshed whenever a new commit or merge is made. GITFS is a feature in SaltStack which allows the salt-master to directly interact with git repositories. In theory, this is an incredibly efficient and useful capability. However, when implemented, we found server processes and load would escalate out of control whenever anyone made a git commit to the GITFS repositories. We were using v2015.8.5 at the time.

After researching the problem with the SaltStack community, we learned that there were multiple problems in the implementation of GITFS and what we witnessed was experienced by other users. Several SaltStack users recommended not using GITFS. As a workaround, I set up our salt-master with its own local copy of all of our git repositories and made use of the salt event reactor feature. When a git commit is made on our git server, a git hook triggers a salt event. Salt-master reacts to the salt event by performing a pull on its local repository copy. Its not as slick as the intended design of GITFS, but it works very well and has proven quite stable, completely eliminating the problems we experienced with GITFS.

At some point in the future we will revisit the GITFS feature, but for now we are satisfied with the current solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the solution for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have encountered quite a few stability issues with the GITFS option, but its been quite stable since we switched to our workaround solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not yet encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

This is an open source tool so we find out about fixes, patches, and other solutions through the online community and other online resources, such as Stack Overflow.

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

We did not have a previous solution as we are new to using DevOps management tools, but we researched others before we decided on SaltStack as our tool of choice.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup seemed so easy, but there is an art to designing pillars, writing state files, and other customizable structures.

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

This is an open source solution, but there is a paid enterprise option. If you plan to pursue the enterprise solution route, contact SaltStack for details. The open source option is very approachable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Puppet, Chef, and Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

If you are planning to use the open source version, plan to allocate more project time than you think you need. However, once it's in place it will save you a great deal of effort.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user538230 - PeerSpot reviewer
DevOps Engineer at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Uses execution modules to automate processes.

What is most valuable?

Execution modules. It is designed for system administrators rather than for developers. It covers maximum functionality and makes automation easy.

How has it helped my organization?

As it provides maximum functionality, it keeps automation short and sweet. This helps writing automation in a modular format. SaltStack helped us in optimizing infrastructure related tasks, such as operations.

What needs improvement?

There should be some mechanism to push agents to the target device. Also, it should focus on managing networking devices.

In order to manage Salt minions from a Salt master, we have to install the Salt agent. As of now, there is no mechanism by which we can push and install this agent on a target machine.

For example:

  • A - Salt Master
  • B - Windows machine

From A, we want to control B. For this to happen, B should have a Salt agent running on it. There should be some mechanism in which we are able to push and install a Salt agent from A to B. This is assuming that we have to provide an IP address and the credentials of B.

For now, there is concept of Saltify, in which we can partially achieve the above scenario.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for close to a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We found some intermittent issues with the Windows minion connection.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is straightforward and is pretty much a simple setup.

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

We have used the open source version. In open source, you will get good enough functionality.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have evaluated this product against Puppet, Chef, and Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

As a DevOps engineer, this CM tool is truly made for system administrator usability rather than for the developer.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user540225 - PeerSpot reviewer
CEO at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Executes remote commands on all targets at once with the distributed shell. Upgrades all of our machines with one command using Package Helper.

What is most valuable?

  • Distributed shell: Ability to execute remote commands on all targets at once.
  • Package Helper: Upgrades all your machines with one command: The package method of SaltStack allows easy host updates. (See https://docs.saltstack.com/en/... .)

How has it helped my organization?

We spent far less time to upgrade and configure all of our hosts. A lot of time was saved.

What needs improvement?

I'm not aware if a UI exists or not. There are a lot of possibilities, like having a kind of dashboard that would recap all of the states and responses to commands.

For how long have I used the solution?

I’ve used this solution for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable!

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support.

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

This is the first solution I have used.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was pretty straightforward, especially compared to "legacy" solutions.

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

It is non-paid product usage.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

Read the documentation. There is nothing fancy or special to know before using it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
PeerSpot user
Senior System Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
We used a SaltStack agent as a “Convergence” agent which provided us with management, monitoring, and backup capabilities.

What is most valuable?

  • Simple and flexible YAML/JSON configuration management framework which allows simultaneous configuration of thousands of systems
  • “Reactor" for event-driven infrastructure which must be present in any cloud based solutions and in CloudOps itself
  • Powerful and flexible DevOps orchestration solution

How has it helped my organization?

  • We decreased deployment CD times from hours to minutes across different cloud providers on several hundred systems.
  • We used a SaltStack agent as a “Convergence” agent which provided us with management, monitoring, and backup capabilities.

What needs improvement?

  • Backward compatibility
  • The speed of fixing bugs

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used this solution for under three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

With the correct infrastructure design, stability issues probably won’t occur. SaltStack supports several features for high availability and fault tolerance.

In terms of SaltStack code/bug issues, it is a very stable product after four years of development from 12,000 developers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I did not encounter any issues with scalability.

How was the initial setup?

SaltStack is a very straightforward system with very good documentation. There are different solutions for deployments. Many scenarios and best practices are available publicly on the SaltStack site.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Ansible and Puppet. SaltStack provided a much more robust solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user534390 - PeerSpot reviewer
Help Desk Specialist at a computer software company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Allows you to control the updates on servers. Enables you to pull information on all computers.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are:

  • Setting configurations options dynamically for servers
  • Pulling information about all computers

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to control updates on servers to streamline the process

What needs improvement?

There is still development for states and pillars. The software is open-source so it allows for extreme customizability. If there is something that you think could be improved, you can code it. Our company is currently working on a few projects to help improve and support SaltStack. I would like to see more training on how to use the many different options. There is a lot of of information to go over and it’s hard to keep it all straight. Other than that, if you put the time learning SaltStack, it is a pretty easy and very powerful tool.

For how long have I used the solution?

We used this solution for a year and a half..

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had no scalability issues so far.

How is customer service and technical support?

I don’t have experience with their support, but I heard they are helpful. There is a IRC chat that you can join to get help from your peers.

How was the initial setup?

I was not a part of the setup, but from what I have read, it is pretty simple.

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

The software is open source. One has to pay for support.

What other advice do I have?

Read the documentation to learn as much as you can.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
PeerSpot user
Technical Architect at a tech company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
We use it for system deployment with AWS, and for OS and application patching.

What is most valuable?

  • Minion-less deployment of SaltStack. Minion is the client-side tool for SaltStack.

How has it helped my organization?

It’s a configuration management tool. We are using it for system deployment with AWS, patching of OS and applications. Deploying a patch on 200 systems is now just a click.

What needs improvement?

Minion-based deployment is not very smooth. Most of the time, many minions were in a stale state and didn't respond to the salt-master.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I encountered stability issues. Minions didn’t work well as they moved to the stall state. In that situation, the salt-master can’t connect to the client servers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I encountered scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Community-based technical support is good. I never took it directly from SaltStack.

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

I previously used Puppet and found SaltStack to be better in terms of configuration. It’s written in Python, which means easy integration, and the structure is YAML, which is very simple.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is straightforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I evaluated Puppet & Chef, but found SaltStack to be better.

What other advice do I have?

I have no advice; it depends on infrastructure & application.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user521397 - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Engineer Associate - 3rd Rotation at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It offers interoperability between operating systems and can perform mass automation with triggering.

Valuable Features:

  • Interoperability between operating systems with the ability to perform mass automation with triggering
  • Integration with many vendors

These features are valuable because I need them to complete the work assigned to me.

Room for Improvement:

The GUI is clunky and hard to use. It could be more user friendly.

  • The UI can get complicated very quickly when you start using SaltStack for a large number of machines (100+).
  • The organization of the buttons / layout can make it difficult to search for the machine you are looking for. Even with the search function, it's difficult to determine the exact state in the correct order
  • The UI should be organized in a more tree-like structure, starting from the initial state (root) with corresponding states being added after (node).


Use of Solution:

I have used it for six months.

Stability Issues:

I have not encountered any stability issues.

Scalability Issues:

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

Other Advice:

I recommend SaltStack because, for SysOps or DevOps users, automation is a key part of getting your product out and allows for faster time to market.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user521385 - PeerSpot reviewer
DevOps Engineer at a tech consulting company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
The service automation is the basis of my work.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the product is the automation for services; it’s the basis of my work. It is important because nowadays, in this complex world, services have become the base for everything. Having a large base is needed to better build what you need for your pipelines, as opposed to a few years ago, when the application was king.

How has it helped my organization?

We created pipelines for all our products.

What needs improvement?

The base library is missing some key elements such as networking management (mine is lacking on that front) and some more granularity on the apt part.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for 12 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is just about right, in the sense that the product is well documented and information is easy to find.

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

We previously used Puppet, which was not suited for my current workload. We chose SaltStack because Ruby wasn't the language used by my team and we needed a master-client solution as opposed to a master-less one.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was very easy.

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

Pricing and licensing is perfect the way it is.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we also evaluated CFEngine.

What other advice do I have?

Read the docs.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user521385 - PeerSpot reviewer
it_user521385DevOps Engineer at a tech consulting company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant

Something on the lines of a better management for the "smart" way ubuntu names the interfaces would be nice.
Some more base states for mangling iptables would be good as well

See all 3 comments
it_user526347 - PeerSpot reviewer
Software Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
Configuration file templating limits copying and pasting. Agentless exeuction does not support remote actions that require a sudo password.

What is most valuable?

  • Configuration file templating: limits the amount of copy/pasted configuration across services with minor differences
  • Near instant orchestration: no waiting to see if a change worked
  • Well-formatted and detailed command output and logs: make troubleshooting easy and break/fix recovery fast

How has it helped my organization?

Developers and systems engineers could work together more closely.

What needs improvement?

Salt does not support performing remote actions that require a sudo password with Salt SSH (agentless Salt execution).

Ansible does support this feature.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues in the last year.

How are customer service and technical support?

Official documentation and community support are top notch.

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

We previously used CFEngine 2 and Chef; both solutions have a steep learning curve that requires a ton of domain-specific knowledge. Salt is configured from the ground up in YAML files and Python, so there's less domain-specific knowledge required and no hidden configuration files.

How was the initial setup?

Salt's initial setup took about two days to go from knowing nothing to having a configured Apache Tomcat server serving our content. That's simple in my book. The complexity comes in when you want to add security policies or routing that aren't ordinary for a horizontally scaling web application; that takes some creativity.

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

Don't pay for it, use the free licensing options unless you don't have the staff to cover your SLAs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at CFEngine 3, Chef, Ansible, and Puppet.

What other advice do I have?

Look at Digital Ocean's guide for initially setting up the Salt server (https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/saltstack-infrastructure-installing-the-salt-master). Group your configurations by logical components, serve any environment/deployment-specific variables from pillar files, and keep templates as simple as possible (put logic for assigning variables in the *.sls files where there's likely to be other logic).

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user519393 - PeerSpot reviewer
Release Engineer at a computer software company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
I like knowing what state my machines are in, and being able to change their state all at once.

What is most valuable?

I like knowing what state my machines are in, and I like being able to change their state all at once.

How has it helped my organization?

Some of what we do, we could not do without SaltStack.

What needs improvement?

Sometimes it feels like there are more moving parts than is necessary, and maybe something simpler would do.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As long as the versions matched, we have not encountered any horrible stability issues so far. :)

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The opposite: It does better with more nodes than it does with fewer, in my opinion.

How are customer service and technical support?

The docs, though sometimes cryptic, are excellent and thorough. I haven't personally used their technical support services.

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

I previously used Puppet. I switched because our shop here likes using Python solutions over Ruby ones.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was more complicated than Puppet, but the solution was also more comprehensive. Setup was worth the trouble.

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

SaltStack is completely open source, though you might consider SaltStack Enterprise as a way to get up and running more quickly.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, Ansible and Puppet were brought up. Ansible seemed too small of a tool for what we needed and Puppet was written in Ruby, so they were discounted.

What other advice do I have?

Thoroughly research how SaltStack works; that knowledge has helped me a lot.
SaltStack is a one-stop-shop for your datacenter's management, monitoring and state control needs. Using it that way allows you to get the most out of the tool. It is configuration management, but also orchestration, monitoring, and has reactive capabilities.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user326337 - PeerSpot reviewer
it_user326337Customer Success Manager at PeerSpot
Consultant

Hi Daniel,

I enjoyed your feedback about the Remote Execution features in SaltStack.

I think you will find this review interesting as it elaborates on the advantage of the Remote Execution feature that you've pointed out;

https://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/saltstack-review-39621-by-leaddevo519714

Would love to know your added feedback on the topic

it_user519714 - PeerSpot reviewer
Lead Devops at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Consultant
Remote execution can generate traffic. It was up and running in minutes.

What is most valuable?

Remote execution in itself is a big time saver at any scale.

For example, a particular incident happened at one of my previous organizations. We had to do a PoC on a lot of servers, where traffic was to be generated from a few hundred machines (something like 'bees with machine guns') and would allow us to benchmark one of internal components.

So, before we began working on it, I suggest the use of SaltStack because of its remote execution. They could easily start generating traffic from a few or all these servers and then get a good feel of a Flash Sale in Ecommerce.

Eventually, one of my colleagues was assigned this task and he used SaltStack. He liked the way SaltStack (on the entire cluster) was up and running in a few minutes, and also gave him flexibility to generate traffic, make config changes, etc. on the fly.

How has it helped my organization?

Currently, most of our configuration is in SaltStack, so scaling up when necessary with or without Salt Cloud would be real easy.

Traditionally, the team here expects the use of Golden AMIs for scaling up the infra, which, though useful, has its limitations:

  • Security updates to the OS are the biggest concern.
  • Non-standard configuration on one server would also cause some serious issues if its AMI is used by mistake in scaling up.

If, instead, we push configuration to new servers during scaling up, then we fix those issues.

And, I was also considering the fact SaltStack gives near flat-line performance (for both remote execution and pushing changes through states), whether the infra size is 10 servers or if it has grown beyond a few hundred. So, that is at least one area that we need not be worried about.

The configuration management is at least one aspect that would take care of itself (not considering redundancies, reporting, etc. required for SaltStack here at the moment).

What needs improvement?

Personally, I feel that SaltStack has many renderers, but the documentation was a bit lacking (in particular, for Py it was close to nothing) when I was studying it up a few months back.

Salt supports multiple renderers Py, PyObjects, etc. (https://docs.saltstack.com/en/latest/ref/renderers/index.html#multiple-renderers). These allow users to write states in JSON, Mako, MsgPack, etc. Py renderer allows us to write states in Pure Python.

I had many scenarios where SaltStack didn't have enough functionality at the time (it has been added in recent releases). For instance, I was trying to add an instance into ELB as the last step of orchestration. But, Salt didn't have anything to support it. So, instead I went ahead and wrote a small state in Py renderer.

There are also cases where Jinja + YML is not enough and to DRY up the states, one has to use either the Py or PyObjects renderer. I prefer Python, as you then don't have to look up the syntax of a particular renderer and a simple Python script would suffice. The catch here is that Salt expects output in a particular format and initializes its internal variables in a specific format, too.

I spent most of my time figuring out how to make this Python script work with SaltStack. Any such functionality that’s missing from SaltStack can be easily implemented using the Python (Py) renderer. So, if the documentation around renderers is improved, it will help anyone with a very specific use case.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it continuously for the last year, and sporadically for the last three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Sometimes, salt-minions do start consuming very high memory, but I've generally seen this to last just a few moments or at most a minute. On a production system, this might cause an impact on serious loads.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Additionally, if many of the servers in infra are down, and you bring all of them up simultaneously, it used to bring down salt-master. This happened until last year, when I was working at scale. Since then, I have switched from that job; it’s difficult to test this pain point now.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't tried technical support.

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

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Learning SaltStack did seem a bit daunting at the moment I was learning it. The concept of creating a top.sls with references to various states and their targets, then creating corresponding files in YML, took a day or two; beyond that, it was real easy.

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

If someone is using it for an infra consisting of a 1000 servers or more, then support would be real useful. Others can go through the documentation and learn from forums or SO posts.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I tested Puppet and Chef, but could never get around to using them in production or at work.

Salt was more of a Swiss Army knife. And our work at the time was more focused on rapid manual changes.

What other advice do I have?

Create valid states for all environments and keep the difference between these environments minimal. Use test cases as much as possible.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user518769 - PeerSpot reviewer
Integration Engineer (DevOps) at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
It is simple to create Python-based templates and create functions for actions not covered by the Jinja engine.

What is most valuable?

Jinja/Python + wide range of embed functions for various platforms and purposes.

Jinja is based on Python, which is a fairly handy and comfortable programming language. They make it simple to create Python-based templates and, when necessary, create functions for actions that are not covered by the Jinja engine.

How has it helped my organization?

Centralized administration and orchestration of severs and services.

What needs improvement?

Support: It's not bad or poor, but there are some issues. On the one hand, it's about development and progress; on the other, there were some issues that took too long to get fixed by the SaltStack team and forced users to invent workarounds.

Documentation: I'd say it's a little bit complicated for beginners, some topics are not clear and so on. So, one will have to massively use search engines when it comes to complex setups and solutions.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for ~7 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good (4 of 5).

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

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was neither straightforward nor complex; it required some effort.

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

It's OSS.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I evaluated Ansible and Puppet.

What other advice do I have?

Be patient and you'll get a great solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user326337 - PeerSpot reviewer
it_user326337Customer Success Manager at PeerSpot
Consultant

Thank you, George! This is quite an interesting comparison between SaltStack compared to Ansible and Puppet.

I encourage you to read up further on our community members' own product comparisons between SaltStack and other solutions, such as Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control --

https://www.itcentralstation.com/products/comparisons/oracle-enterprise-manager-cloud-control_vs_saltstack

I'd be interested to know your thoughts on which attributes of each solution contribute most to the comparison.

See all 3 comments
it_user518751 - PeerSpot reviewer
System and Network Administrator at a tech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Reactors help with automation. A state can be linked to the status of another state.

What is most valuable?

  • Reactors, because of the automation help they provide (reacting to custom events).
  • State dependency trees, because a state can be linked to the status of another state, allowing you to particularize the behaviour of the software in some cases. The result of the execution of a system_state can be linked to different other states. For example, you can say: IF Upgrade_Apache is OK then Restart_Apache else Rollback_Upgrade. In that manner, you can create a sort of dependency among multiple desired states.

How has it helped my organization?

For example, with automation, before SaltStack, user management to access servers by SSH was done "by hand". The risk was leaving life-long access for some users, who were no longer with the company.

What needs improvement?

Integration in BASH Scripts: Maybe I’m just lazy, but I've not been able to find a mapping between state execution success/failure and Salt command return codes.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for 1.5 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have encountered stability issues; they are always resolved by new releases of the software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is excellent, even by chat.

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

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was simple.

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

I use the community edition, so it is free.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I did not evaluate other options.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user516870 - PeerSpot reviewer
Dev Ops Engineer at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Configuration is text-based. You can use templates, and it is easily edited.

What is most valuable?

  • Extensibility and flexibility
  • Open source
  • Active community

Also, the text-based configuration is very important to discern differences in version control. It also means it is easily configured with templates, and easily edited.

How has it helped my organization?

Salt lets you run commands on hundreds of servers at once; and sync up software, tools, and scripts across your infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

The flexibility can hurt sometimes, as there are so many ways to accomplish the same task. I don’t want to give the wrong impression; the flexibility helps more often than it hurts. However, when there are multiple choices to a complex software problem, one can make mistakes, and with a configuration management system, a mistake can get pushed to an entire infrastructure automatically.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Salt has been remarkably stable, and it is simple to send metrics to an external source like Elasticsearch.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven’t had any scaling issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate technical support very high. Personally, I have posted issues to GitHub that have been responded to the same day or the next day, and closed within a week.

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

This was our first foray into the configuration management space. Previously, it was a bunch of PowerShell scripts.

How was the initial setup?

Salt has a very straightforward installation.

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

Salt is free.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we were looking at PowerShell DSC, because we were all PowerShell anyway. It was too unpolished; did not seem to fit properly with what we had in mind.

What other advice do I have?

Have a good plan about how you are going to target your infrastructure; a solid naming convention helps a lot.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
PeerSpot user
Senior System Engineer at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
It is fast, making it convenient and practical, allowing me to get information about my servers in no time.

What is most valuable?

  • Remote execution.
  • SaltStack being so fast makes it very convenient and practical; allows me to get information about my servers in no time.

How has it helped my organization?

SaltStack allows me to answer user requests in a very efficient manner.

What needs improvement?

I guess the only downside of SaltStack is the limited user base, which leads to poorer documentation because of the lower use.

On a features side, maybe some more security around the API would be good, so it can be used as a central automation tool.

I haven't kept up with latest releases for a while, though, so don't quote me on that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

It's open source and the community is very helpful as usual.

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

I previously used multiple solutions combined; harder to manage. Salt is easy to use and manage.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward; worked out of the box .

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

It's open source.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I evaluated Puppet and Ansible.

What other advice do I have?

Just install it and use it for remote execution at first. You'll see how powerful it is.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user516060 - PeerSpot reviewer
Principal Architect at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
Salt Formulas help to get the configuration needed to install any new package.

What is most valuable?

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.

How has it helped 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.

What needs 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.

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the 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.

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Puppet and Chef before deciding on SaltStack.

What other advice do I have?

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.
PeerSpot user
PeerSpot user
IT Support at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
Vendor
The initial learning curve is low. I had a working configuration building fairly complex proprietary Internet servers within a couple of months.

What is most valuable?

The initial learning curve is low. I had a working configuration building fairly complex proprietary Internet servers within a couple of months, well before the rest of our server team was ready for production builds.

The developers are very quick to respond to reported issues and offer advice to deal with them (or correct something you are not using well). The couple of times I had to deal with them were actually very pleasant.

The relationship between the state files and the actual filesystem being served by the master is as simple and elegant as the way *NIXes treat everything as a file.

The execution capability both in a shell on the Salt master and using cmd.script within state files allows even a novice to make things happen the way they want until they learn to use all of the available modules the right way. This, for me, was part of getting up and running fast. This reduced the learning curve for me tremendously, as I got my initial server build framework running. I have been able to continue refining the system in stages since then and it is easy because of the relationship between the state files and the files they serve.

How has it helped my organization?

We have developed a complete, multi-tiered, stable build system for our Internet servers with SaltStackas the base of the build system. It is stable and easy to modify as we grow and change our needs.

What needs improvement?

We currently use the Salt Cloud module for integration with Amazon Web Services, but I would like to see more integration with AWS, specifically an ability to stably control an ever-expanding and contracting cloud of EC2 instances in a sane fashion.

SaltStack has many community-maintained modules available. One of the modules is called EC2 Autoscale Reactor and it's function (alongside the Salt Cloud module) is to control an autoscaling group's instances as they are added and removed. I found this module difficult to configure and unreliable, as far as getting and maintaining control of new instances as they were created by the autoscaling group. In fact, the developers even labeled it "experimental." I would like to be able to reliably control all instances in an expanding and contracting autoscaling group without manual intervention.

For the record, our cloud has moved away from needing this as a requirement. We use SaltStack and Salt Cloud strictly as a build management system and have moved towards our Internet servers being strictly "hands-off," except for developer instances. I want this feature as an improvement because the ability to manage a dynamic cloud of Internet servers adds a lot of power to SaltStack and to me.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for 1.5 - 2 years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I mentioned the initial learning curve elsewhere in this review. Of course I encountered issues with deployment of SaltStack. I had never used an infrastructure management system prior to this, so the concepts were a bit foreign. I put in a ticket or two as I initially learned to get the system running. I found that across Linux systems, there were sometimes version differences in the repositories and began building a specific Git revision of SaltStack on all systems as a result.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The only stability issue I encountered in almost two years of use had to do with a different version of SaltStack being served on the repositories for an Ubuntu Salt Master and Amazon Linux minions. I have since migrated to using all Amazon Linux instances for everything and always building the same Git revision on all instances and have never had a bit of instability in the SaltStack system since then.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have encountered no scalability issues with SaltStack. In fact, I haven't stretched the system very far, but because it supports multiple masters, Syndic, and minions as "runners", the scalability and high availability looks to be amazing.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

A+ for the little time I have spent dealing with support. They were quick to respond and the technical expertise was fantastic.

Technical Support:

A+ because the developers are directly involved in the support.

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

SaltStack was my first choice because it is open source and was reviewed extensively as a good choice because of the low learning curve.

How was the initial setup?

The hardest parts of initial setup for me were learning some of the intricacies of YAML and Jinja, and figuring out the moving parts on the master so I could get the system to reliably create the minions I wanted. Later, learning to configure Salt-cloud was a bit tough because of the configuration files required to work with resources on Amazon Web Services. None of these issues were "showstoppers", though, as the amount of online documentation and configuration examples for other users is excellent.

What about the implementation team?

An in-house team implemented it.

What was our ROI?

The only calculation I can make on ROI is the countless hours I have NOT spent configuring and deploying servers. I now issue a few commands on the Salt Master as my build server, and the servers are built, Amazon Machine Images are created, and they are blue-green deployed. All I have to do is check the various stages for completion and occasionally check build logs for errors and make corrections. I have a lot more time to focus on the rest of DevOps.

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

As a small start-up, we have not gone to a licensed model yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The only evaluation I did was to spend lots of time reading reviews and asking questions of people I know who are already using configuration management and execution tools. SaltStack was my first choice.

What other advice do I have?

I spent my time learning Saltstack through trial and error, researching the online document system as needed. If you decide to use SaltStack, buy the O'Reilly book called Salt Essentials first. It is not very big, but it explains the concepts required to get a working system very well. I think if I had gotten the book first, I would have cut my initial time spent learning in half.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user514338 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Devops Engineer at a tech company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
It offers cross-platform Windows and Linux support. Windows support is ripe with issues that have added hours to our roadmap.

What is most valuable?

Cross-platform Windows and Linux support: We run a Windows infrastructure within AWS with several key services deployed on Linux instances.

How has it helped my organization?

We have been able to integrate with AWS to deploy continuous delivery services with an extremely quick turnaround time. Salt lets us manage those instances, and control the deployment seamlessly.

What needs improvement?

Windows support and support in general: Getting responses to problems can take weeks or months in my experience. Windows support is advertised as a first-rate supported platform; however, it is ripe with issues that have added countless hours to our roadmap. Documentation is also severely lacking for much of the Windows platform support, and in many cases I have had to resort to third-party blogs and tutorials for resolving problems.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for nine months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have encountered stability issues with Windows support in AWS/EC2.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

I rate technical support as 3/10. The only support we get is through the mailing list or through GitHub. They have offered a higher level of support for $20k, but we haven’t seen anything to indicate the value in doing that when the platform as a whole has issues that should have been tested before being deployed.

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

This organization I work for used Altiris before, but we switched to Salt to scale into AWS.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup should have been straightforward; however, documentation issues and bugs in general caused this to take a very long time.

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

The software is open source and free; however, things that should be tested for stability (like Windows support) are not fully vetted, and it’s unclear if a paid support offering would actually resolve those problems.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I evaluated Chef, Ansible, etc.

What other advice do I have?

Don’t rely on the SaltStack documentation alone; use Google and other resources to find help, if you are not going for paid support. Windows support is lacking but you can overcome the issues with a bit of ingenuity.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user514326 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Information Technology Specialist at a tech company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
Deploying new Linux-based ERP servers is now automated, using the same template and standard.

What is most valuable?

Remote code execution is the most valuable feature; also some of the configuration automation and the automated deployment possibilities it gives us.

How has it helped my organization?

We can now deploy a new (Linux-based) ERP server in 15 minutes; automated, all using the same template and standard. Before this, would take us two hours following a documented procedure.

What needs improvement?

Overall, the documentation is good but improvements can be made in documenting "real world" examples and practical usage. How to's and "best practices" that go a bit further would be really helpful to make sure you're using the product the best possible way. It's more like… how to "manage" all the configuration you use. Not only at a plain technical level but also at a higher level. Having an overview and managing all this is a bit difficult in the beginning.

It basically comes down to "orchestration"; there is some room for improvement in that.

The more you are experienced with this software, the easier it gets. But it's difficult getting up to speed without having these "real world" examples on managing your own SaltStack infrastructure. Experienced people that can showcase and share their use would help a lot in my opinion.

Some developers and employees are active in the public chat channel.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues. Just take care when upgrading. Read the release notes and test.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for open source software = IRC, mailing list; very good community.

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

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Initial (basic) setup is easy when you follow the docs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we evaluated Chef, Puppet, and Ansible. We found Salt to be closer to us on features and mindset.

What other advice do I have?

Try it out; it won't cost you anything but some time.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user12228 - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Administrator at a cloud provider with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
It ties into VMware and allows us to script the process of setting up an entire infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

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.

How has it helped 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.

What needs 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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for 1.5 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

So far no issues with scalability were encountered.

How are 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).

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

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

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

Salt is open source.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The product was already in use.

What other advice do I have?

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.
PeerSpot user
it_user514269 - PeerSpot reviewer
Infrastructure Architect at a tech vendor with 11-50 employees
Vendor
We use the beacons to alert based on whatever monitoring metric we see fit.

What is most valuable?

The two most valuable features to us are beacon related. We can use the beacons to alert that a service is stopped, and restart it almost instantly. Also, we can use the beacons to alert based on whatever monitoring metric we see fit. For example, if a server is running out of usable RAM, for example, we can alert on that, and react to it in whatever way we see fit. We could in fact automate any aspect of scaling – all because of SaltStack. Also, it enables you to have a remote CLI on every server in your infrastructure and issue a command to it. Within seconds, you will have the results of that command in an organized list.

How has it helped my organization?

We use it to automatically install software on servers with the minion installed – based on the server name. So we can bring any machine up to spec by simply changing the host name. We have plans to automate it even further; it is just a matter of time.

What needs improvement?

The online documentation is lackluster at best. It usually only gives one example of how to do something. If you want to see all possibilities, you have to look at the Python code for the SaltStack modules themselves. They are commented extremely well, and what isn't there you can write yourself! Anything is possible when you edit the code on your own. We have modified many modules to suit our specific needs.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for 10 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues. It has helped us scale other applications.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are all self-taught on this product. I have not initiated a call to their support. I will say their online documentation leaves something to be desired; however, that is all made up in the code itself. It is commented really well.

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

We were previously using SCCM and SCOM. We have brought in SaltStack and it is slowly taking over those two spaces. SaltStack is a great orchestration tool, but not intended to be used for monitoring. We are looking at switching over to Zenoss for our monitoring solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex because we did not think it would be as simple as it was. I can build a new SaltStack infrastructure in a matter of minutes now, but initially it took me longer than I would like to admit. Again, it is hard to make your way through the documentation. I was using YouTube videos for instruction.

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

We use the free, open-source version. I have no information or experience with their pricing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Ansible, Puppet, and SCCM. All were really good at what they do, but SaltStack seemed to be much more feature rich than the competition. I am extremely happy with our decision.

What other advice do I have?

Absolutely, positively, go to YouTube first before looking at the documentation. Documentation gives you a great start of what you need, then you look at the code to see the configurable options.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
PeerSpot user
Senior Consultant IT Infrastructure at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
With it, I'm able to rollout critical updates on all affected servers regardless of the number of servers.

Valuable Features:

The most valuable asset is most probably the ability to target the needed hosts, and running commands via modules or a shell on all of them at the same time. This means that mass parallel administration of large server farms is possible.

Improvements to My Organization:

I am now able to rollout critical updates within seconds on all affected servers, and it doesn't matter if there are five or 500 of them.

Room for Improvement:

So far, everything worked as expected. This means that so far, I heavn't seen anything which needs improvements. The software works as expected and I stumbled across no issues while using it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
Download our free Configuration Management Report and find out what your peers are saying about SaltStack, Red Hat, Microsoft, and more!
Updated: September 2022
Buyer's Guide
Download our free Configuration Management Report and find out what your peers are saying about SaltStack, Red Hat, Microsoft, and more!