The only sane and efficient way to manage a large numbers of servers—or even a few dozen, if they change often—is through automation. Automation tools have to be learned and mastered, so they exact a significant up-front cost, but they dramatically reduce the administrative burden in the long run. Perhaps most important, they provide a staunch line of defense against the fatal fat-fingered mistake, which even the .

Configuration management tools such as Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and SaltStack hold the key to automating server provisioning and management tasks. and are long-established, feature-rich tools that handle the complete lifecycle of IT operations regardless of the hardware platform, OS, application, and configuration model. is a relative newcomer distinguished by its simplicity and ease of use. SaltStack is neither as convenient as Ansible, nor as feature-rich as Puppet or Chef. But with a highly scalable architecture, powerful orchestration of services, and reliable performance, SaltStack stands tall among these competitors.