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What is SaltStack?

Salt, also called SaltStack platform, is an open-source, Python-based data centre orchestration tool that supports remote execution

Salt, also called SaltStack platform, is an open-source, Python-based data centre orchestration tool that supports remote execution with a flexible targeting system, automation-driven configuration management, IaC, and other features.

What are the strengths of Salt when creating a CI/CD pipeline on top of Azure?

Salt features

Salt is similar to other software, such as Ansible, Puppet, Chef, and CFEngine. It offers several different features that you can use to orchestrate and manage configuration, including remote execution, configuration automation, cloud control, and event-driven orchestration.

Remote execution

Salt has a remote execution engine based on a Master/Minion architecture to control distributed infrastructures while keeping server load at a minimum.

The Minion does most of the work but is controlled by the Master. Salt also offers agentless systems management to run remote commands without the need of a Minion.

Configuration automation

Salt configuration automation is built on top of the remote execution system and uses an infrastructure-as-data approach. Its configuration management is language-agnostic and uses YAML files with Jinja templates.

Salt uses a hybrid approach to configuration. It consists of declarative and imperative approaches, where the imperative approach executes configurations in a user-defined order and declarative executes configurations in an order defined by the system.

In the declarative approach, the system administrator focuses more on what needs to happen instead of how it should happen.

Cloud control

Salt has interaction features with some private and public cloud systems, such as Azure.

With Salt Cloud, it’s possible to provision systems on cloud VMs and to control cloud built-in functionalities, such as load balancers. Salt connects cloud resources that are created to a Salt Master.

Event-driven orchestration

Salt is event-driven and has reactive provisioning features that use an event bus. Salt Reactor is one of Salt’s components that ensures this approach by listening to events generated by both Salt and third-party entities.

Salt’s components communicate with each other by sending and receiving events.

Continuous integration and deployment

SaltStack (Salt) comes with many powerful features yet keeps its principles simple. It is a useful tool in a DevOps environment, and specifically in continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. This is because it automates everything a developer requires, from source code and configuration management, event-driven tasks and scheduling jobs, to cloud provisioning.

Using Salt in CI/CD allows you to capture team knowledge in a single tool, which is necessary during the integration/deployment process.

Other than being faster than many other tools due to its smart architecture (e.g., Salt Minions enable Salt to cache files for faster re-execution), Salt is complete, portable, and vendor-agnostic. It can interface with other CI tools and version-control systems, such as Git, Travis, and others.

Deployment and automation by way of software integration can be done by connecting Salt to Azure, in which case the testing, staging, and production infrastructures could be managed entirely by using Salt CLI.

SaltStack can access and manage different layers of a CI/CD pipeline on Azure, from the VM and OS to the application layer. It can also be used for event-driven integration/deployment systems.

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