The move from the “Iron Age” to the “Cloud Era” meant that we now can treat infrastructure as software. Infrastructure Automation refers to exactly that: Treating infrastructure as code. This means your infrastructure and its configuration run as scripts, or sets of scripts, that replicate the environment in a much faster manner, resulting in less errors.
By automating how you build, deploy and manage your cloud infrastructure, you’ll end up with a testable, repeatable and transparent infrastructure allowing you to standardize operations, reduce errors and iterate faster.
Based in Ruby, Chef is a popular open source tool for configuration management. Running on a master-client model, Chef has a separate workstation required to control the master. Chef is transparent in its design and works well for development-focused teams. Familiarity with Git is necessary.
Pros: Code-driven approach, large collection of modules
Cons: High complexity, no support for push functionality
Puppet, being one of the oldest tools in this space, is an open source tool based in Ruby that uses a customized Domain Scripting Language (DSL). Using a model-driven approach, Puppet runs on master-client setup with a code design that works as a list of dependencies. Often used by large enterprises, Puppet works well in diverse environments and offers stability and maturity.
Pros: Simple installation, mature interface, strong support community
Cons: Less control than code-driven approaches, requires CLI for advanced tasks
Ansible is a free open source tool using a push model setup to deploy applications. Ansible’s playbooks are well-structured and its focus lies on streamlining deployments. With Ansible you can get up and running quickly and easily.
Pros: SSH-based, quick setup, structured playbook
Cons: Inconsistent performance, poor introspection
SaltStack (or Salt) is an open source tool that also offers an enterprise version. Salt is CLI-based and can be set up as a master-client model or a non-centralized model, offering a push method and an SSH method of communication. Based in Python, Salt is known for its scalability and usability.
Pros: Feature-rich DSL, good introspection, strong community
Cons: Hard to set up, complex documentation, lacks support for non-Linux OSs
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