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The Dynamic Duo of Salt and Idem

Salt and Idem: a dynamic duo of open source automation for infrastructure and cloud engineers. The Salt team at VMware continues to improve Salt and engage with its community, bustling with new features, a long-term support plan and more. And with Idem now taking wing, well, it’s never a dull day on the Salt team. Here’s a quick update on all the activities in these two open source projects.

Salt gets saltier

Salt Project continues to delight its users and community, making it one of the most widely used automation platforms.

Over the last two years, the increase in community adoption and contributions to the Salt Project has been significant. OpenLogic’s “State of Open Source” report for 2022 showcased impressive Salt adoption growth. In 2020, just 7% of companies surveyed used Salt. Today, more than 22% of companies report their Salt adoption.

And those new users will benefit from the latest Salt Project release (March 2). This release candidate – RC1 – represents the unveiling of a new release strategy. This new strategy accommodates those who look for stability as well as those who seek the latest drop of code. Using this new strategy, each year Salt Project will release one LTS (long-term support) and one STS (short-term support) candidate. You can learn more about this release strategy and take a look at the release roadmap on this blog from the Salt Project team.

Project Timeline

Here are a few more updates from the team:

  • The automator gets automated. Salt has just performed its first fully automated release, reducing what was a month-long endeavor to one completed in a few hours. And with fully tested nightly builds, you’ll enjoy faster dot releases from the team.
  • Fully managed dependencies and unified packaging using RelEvn and OneDir
  • Key enhancements to Heist and salt-describe
  • Now Salt Project can test classification and integration with GitHub action pipeline to enable faster review/merge of PRs.

For details on Salt, read February’s Community Open Hours meeting notes and join in the fun!

More news from the Idem Project

Idem Project, announced in May 2022, is a relatively new cloud automation project that is separate from Salt but was developed by the man who created Salt, Thomas Hatch.

Idem leverages tried-and-true concepts from Salt but uses none of the technology. Developers can use the completely original, standalone project to simplify cloud automation. Idem recreated the structured layered state (SLS) system developed for Salt. Inside of Idem, we are able to bring the familiar language engine to the next level and reinterpret it for cloud and API automation.

Idem also recreates the core tenants of the Salt State system but changes them to solve the very different and complex problems presented by cloud automation. The Idem system is built specifically to interact asynchronously and concurrently with multiple cloud APIs while still enforcing idempotent state of the cloud. The Salt State engine was built to target the specific needs of OS management, so we needed to rethink the backend for Idem to target cloud management. By pairing the two technologies, you can get the power of Salt for the OS and the familiar interfaces for the cloud. In this way, we were able to make a system that feels deeply familiar to Salt users but has been re-engineered 100% from the inside out to make cloud automation better than ever.

Idem, like Salt, powers multiple VMware products and more and more VMware products continue to use it. It is not only an open source cloud automation juggernaut, but it is also a powerful cloud automation engine that can easily plug into and enhance so many products. Here are a few newly introduced Idem features:

  • Extended support: Idem now supports GCP cloud along with AWS and Azure.
  • Speed: Idem was already fast, but recent improvements have made it faster than ever. With a variety of refinements to the scheduler, Idem can now maximize concurrent API connections.
  • Simplicity: Idem-CodeGen takes data from Idem describe and transforms it into manageable code.

Visit the Idem Project to level up your cloud automation game!

Idem and Salt Project always welcome new community members. Whether you’re just curious or you’re a long-time user, take some time to attend one of the community meetings, listen to The Hacks podcast or chime in with a PR of your own.

Stay tuned to the Open Source Blog and follow us on Twitter for more deep dives into the world of open source contributing.


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