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House of Salt: Extending and leveraging SaltStack


Once upon a time, sysadmins had cute naming schemes for their boxen, and it was good. Suddenly, virtualisation! And the cute names withered as herds of servers were born. Infrastructure automation and management became a thing. Helper software was released (without which a nine person company could not hope to manage 400-odd servers.) And it was good again, until the edges showed. Then we started to build.

In this talk we’ll discuss the challenges encountered in managing hundreds of servers delivering a single product on AWS. Relying on SaltStack for deployment, management and diagnostics, we’ve automated away painful steps and reduced our attack surface. SaltStack handles configuration and package management well, but is capable of much more once you start to customise it.

Along the way we’ll show examples of custom SaltStack modules, runners, and event handlers. We’ll describe threats and show how SaltStack helps us limit their exposure and impact. We’ll catalogue the lessons we’ve faced in two years of running SaltStack in our production environment.

We won't rehash content from previous talks, and novice users will get to see how the tool can be stretched. If you’re wanting to get more out of SaltStack than the builtin modules allow for, this talk is for you.


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