SaltStack today added three open source modules to its portfolio that make it easier to automate the management of IT at scale.
Heist is a plugin that allows organizations to create agents that will dissolve after a specific amount of time. Umbra is a plugin that gathers data streams to make it easier for machine learning algorithms to consume.
Finally, Idem is a declarative programming language that enables IT teams to create workflows based on stateful constructs that can be used in conjunction with any IT automation framework or systems management tool.
All three modules are based on the Salt Plugin Oriented Programming (POP) model. Company CTO Thomas Hatch said SaltStack created POP to make it easier to manage modules and libraries of code within a monolithic application without having to transition to a different microservices-based architecture based on containers.
That POP approach also serves to make it easier to test modules within a monolithic application environment, he said.
SaltStack used POP to create Salt, an open source IT automation framework that serves as the foundation for the commercial IT automation platform provided by SaltStack. Organizations that have embraced the open source Salt project include Juniper Networks, Cloudflare, Nutanix, SUSE, LinkedIn and eBay.
Heist extends the Salt project by giving DevOps teams an alternative to having to commit to either an agent or agentless-based approach to managing IT. Instead, DevOps teams can create an agent to collect data that will run only as long as it’s needed.
Umbra, meanwhile, prepares data to be consumed by machine learning algorithms transparently, which Hatch said is critical in providing visibility into how artificial intelligence (AI) models are constructed. That capability is going to be a requirement in any regulated industry that requires organizations to comply with IT audits, he noted.
IT automation frameworks are, of course, foundational to any set of best DevOps practices. While most of the initial IT automation management frameworks were proprietary, the entire category has gained more traction as open source implementations of these frameworks became available. Now DevOps teams have a plethora of open source and commercial IT automation frameworks on which to define a set of DevOps processes.
The biggest challenge in getting IT teams to embrace these frameworks historically has been the preference of many IT professionals for scripts they develop. However, as the scale of the IT management challenge has increased in the age of the cloud, relying on scripts that are often undocumented has become problematic. Industrial-scale IT organizations require IT automation frameworks that allow them to create reusable playbooks that are easily documented. Otherwise, every time an IT professional who authored a script leaves the company, the IT organization soon discovers the script they’ve been relying on that has broken can’t be fixed easily.
The day when all IT organizations rely on some form of an IT automation framework is fast approaching. In fact, the remaining IT automation challenges have a lot more to do with the culture within the IT organization than they do any of the technical capabilities of the platforms being considered.