The Whiteboard

Unveiling the Idem Project: Cloud Automation Without the Code

This month, we announced the long-awaited launch of Idem, an open source tool that simplifies cloud-management automation by reducing configuration to data (instead of code) — making it easier to maintain, discover, and use. Idem is a complement to the open source project Salt (created by SaltStack, which VMware acquired in October of 2020). While Salt was built to automate the process of systems configuration (such as databases and applications running inside virtual machines), Idem automates cloud configuration, settings, user management, and resource creation. If you’ve used Salt, you’ll find Idem familiar and easy to navigate. Together, Idem and Salt form a full automation solution.

Why infrastructure as data?

Running, managing, and securing applications across multiple clouds is a difficult proposition, which is compounded by the velocity of innovation in the cloud-computing space. The complexity of cloud infrastructure and the maintenance of large-scale cloud and API systems have required large automation codebases — an expensive proposition, in terms of both time and money.

Idem takes a simpler approach. It’s a fully loaded cloud-automation platform with advanced orchestration capabilities. Because it can run asynchronously and in parallel, it can run any number of management tasks on any cloud at any time, scanning and discovering your current cloud deployments and generating all the raw data required to manage them. And Idem is not limited to cloud hyperscalers. It can describe and manage anything with an API (e.g. GitHub).

Idempotence is key

Idem can be run repeatedly to converge on the target cloud’s desired state. This eliminates drift and makes management faster and more consistent. This idempotence must be table stakes for any modern management-automation technology.

Because it manages stateful resources (cloud virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, serverless frameworks, networks, firewalls, etc.), Idem — with its properties of idempotence and parallelism — makes a great target for executing on modern serverless runtimes, such as Cloud Native Runtimes for VMware Tanzu. Similarly to Salt, Idem uses the state files to reconcile the requested multi-cloud infrastructure. The discovery capabilities inherent to Idem allow management and automation systems to dynamically adapt and scale as cloud provider APIs expose new capabilities.

While Idem provides significant automation concepts and capabilities, we have made sure to keep it easy to use and learn, both for users and developers. And we’re just getting started. Our goal is to create a universal cloud-automation engine that can be leveraged to drive new ways to automate more than just cloud infrastructure.

Ready to learn more? Check out these resources:

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