Red Hat Ansible is a powerful configuration management tool available as open-source software and an enterprise version, Ansible Automation Platform. Enterprises can use Ansible as the technical foundation of an automated and scalable pipeline strategy that further standardizes how they deliver software to internal and external customers.
The Power of Red Hat Ansible
Any enterprise seeking an automation solution for their infrastructure or application deployments is an ideal user for Ansible. It’s one of the most popular open-source software solutions on the market right now, and a de facto solution for standardized configuration management. Such popularity brings with it an active open-source community of contributors who are developing free modules and collections – integrations to third-party products such as networking, storage, and SaaS platforms. Ansible has thousands of modules, collections, and roles available for free via Ansible Galaxy.
The open-source and enterprise versions of Ansible are easy to use. Developers and engineers can write Ansible playbooks using YAML, a simple markup language that doesn’t require any formal programming background. The primary use cases for Ansible are infrastructure automation for on-premise and cloud systems, and configuration management. Ansible provides Platform and Operations teams a common and standardized tool to be used across different workload types.
System Administrators can develop infrastructure automation using YAML playbooks. However, since Ansible is Python based, they can use a combination of Python and Shell scripting to easily customize the tool for their requirements, especially since System Administrators are typically familiar with both those scripting languages.
Ansible as Core to an Automation Strategy
Ansible can act as the foundation technology for an organization’s automation strategy, starting with infrastructure automation such as provisioning workloads, patch management, and workload configuration management.
Organizations can use segments of their continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) pipelines and tie together their workstreams into a common platform. Ansible is easy to use, learn, and maintain, making it ideal to roll out to DevOps teams across a large enterprise to create standardization. Independent pockets of automation get formed in large organizations when one team is using Golang for scripting their automation tasks, another is using Python, and another team is using C#. When those programmers leave the company, their scripting knowledge leaves with them. Standardizing on Ansible helps with training and the documentation of common IT processes. Writing automation using YAML removes the dependency on knowing specific scripting languages and helps eliminate tech debt for such organizations.
Ansible Adoption and Scalability
Like many open source and DevOps tools, Ansible adoption is from the bottom up. For example, a developer or system administrator tries out and uses the community version in their environment to evaluate a fit. They may also have had success with it in the past or at another organization. Since it’s free, easy to use, and open source, teams can start using it immediately for their automation requirements, and usage grows and proliferates across teams inside the organization.
Once the adoption of the open-source version of Ansible hits critical mass and teams get comfortable using it for automation widely across the organization, the next step would be to scale it for your organization. Red Hat’s Ansible Automation Platform is the enterprise-level solution which enables you to create high availability clusters in a supported confirmation. There are also other additional features – a GUI to create and manage job templates, schedule playbooks to run at a specific time, and triggering playbooks managed through git, IAM mappings, and more – which are not available with the open-source version.
Scaling Ansible to the Ansible Automation Platform means engaging with Red Hat to purchase licensing and support for the product. Red Hat also provides best practices for using the enterprise features.
A Keyva engagement starts during the architecture design phase, where the team will develop Ansible roles that support code reuse. The Keyva team would typically help our clients by design and develop an automation framework and building Ansible-based pipelines that can leverage existing modules and collections for reusability. The team also would develop playbooks – automation units within Ansible – and work with the customer to make them scalable and easy to support in-house.
As adoption grows, and the organization decides to use Ansible on thousands of nodes and target machines, Keyva and Red Hat can help build out processes and playbooks which effectively produce outcomes per your business requirements. Scalability and security are key facets to standing up solutions at an enterprise scale, and our combined expertise in building large scale environments is the core value-add we provide to our clients.
Every customer has their own inflection point for moving from the open-source Ansible to the Ansible Automation Platform. It’s essential to acknowledge your scalability requirements with your internal teams and partners to find the right fit for your organization.
Ansible and Collaboration
Ansible enables DevOps teams to break down some of the traditional silos that are in every technology delivery organization. Multiple development and operations teams across business units can use Ansible as their standard platform for improving efficiency and achieving operational excellence.
The fact that Ansible uses YAML-based playbooks across the board means a standard environment for your DevOps teams that doesn’t require skilling up team members. Team members across an organization can make recommendations or changes to infrastructure team playbooks for the benefit of all teams, not just their own.
Ansible is also flexible enough to fit into the latest DevOps processes or frameworks and legacy waterfall methodologies because the simplicity of YAML enables it to be plug and play. You have options to integrate Ansible with agile frameworks and tools such as Atlassian Jira and Azure DevOps. Engineers can work on tickets while following the workflows and processes set by Ansible playbooks because of pre-built integrations.
IT business leaders who are concerned with metrics also benefit from Ansible automation, because it enables faster resolution of incident tickets by their teams. Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is a critical metric in operations organizations across industry verticals.
Ansible is also becoming a major component of AIOps because it helps enable self-healing infrastructure. If and when something goes wrong, Ansible playbooks can powers the automation and workflows to remediate the issues.