What

At Logilab we are big fans of SaltStack, we use it quite extensivelly to centralize, configure and automate deployments.

http://www.logilab.org/file/145398/raw/SaltStack-Logo.png

We've talked on this blog about how to build a Debian AMI "by hand" and we wanted to automate this fully. Hence the salt way seemed to be the obvious way to go.

So we wrote salt-ami-cloud-builder. It is mainly glue between existing pieces of software that we use and like. If you already have some definition of a type of host that you provision using salt-stack, salt-ami-cloud-builder should be able to generate the corresponding AMI.

http://www.logilab.org/file/145397/raw/open-stack-cloud-computing-logo-2.png

Why

Building a Debian based OpenStack private cloud using salt made us realize that we needed a way to generate various flavours of AMIs for the following reasons:

  • Some of our openstack users need "preconfigured" AMIs (for example a Debian system with Postgres 9.1 and the appropriate Python bindings) without doing the modifications by hand or waiting for an automated script to do the job at AMI boot time.
  • Some cloud use cases require that you boot many (hundreds for instance) machines with the same configuration. While tools like salt automate the job, waiting while the same download and install takes place hundreds of times is a waste of resources. If the modifications have already been integrated into a specialized ami, you save a lot of computing time. And especially in the Amazon (or other pay-per-use cloud infrastructures), these resources are not free.
  • Sometimes one needs to repeat a computation on an instance with the very same packages and input files, possibly years after the first run. Freezing packages and files in one preconfigured AMI helps this a lot. When relying only on a salt configuration the installed packages may not be (exactly) the same from one run to the other.

Relation to other projects

While multiple tools like build-debian-cloud exist, their objective is to build a vanilla AMI from scratch. The salt-ami-cloud-builder starts from such vanilla AMIs to create variations. Other tools like salt-cloud focus instead on the boot phase of the deployment of (multiple) machines.

Chef & Puppet do the same job as Salt, however Salt being already extensively deployed at Logilab, we continue to build on it.

Get it now !

Grab the code here: http://hg.logilab.org/master/salt-ami-cloud-builder

The project page is http://www.logilab.org/project/salt-ami-cloud-builder

The docs can be read here: http://docs.logilab.org/salt-ami-cloud-builder

We hope you find it useful. Bug reports and contributions are welcome.

The logilab-salt-ami-cloud-builder team :)

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