4 min read

Off late, organizations are moving towards getting their systems automated. The benefits are many. Firstly, it saves off a huge chunk of time and secondly saves investments in human resources for simple tasks such as updates and so on. Few years back, Chef and Puppet were the two popular names when asked about tools for software automation. Over the years, these have got a strong rival which has surpassed them and now sits as one of the famous tools for software automation. Ansible is the one!

Ansible is an open source tool for IT configuration management, deployment, and orchestration. It is perhaps the definitive configuration management tool. Chef and Puppet may have got there first, but its rise over the last couple of years is largely down to its impressive automation capabilities. And with the demands on operations engineers and sysadmins facing constant time pressures, the need to automate isn’t “nice to have”, but a necessity. Its tagline is “allowing smart people to do smart things.” It’s hard to argue that any software should aim to do much more than that.

Ansible’s rise in popularity

Ansible, originated in the year 2013, is a leader in IT automation and DevOps. It was bought by Red Hat in the year 2015 to achieve their goal of creating frictionless IT.

The reason Red Hat acquired Ansible was its simplicity and versatility. It got the second mover advantage of entering the DevOps world after Puppet. It meant that it can orchestrate multi-tier applications in the cloud. This results in server uptime by implementing an ‘Immutable server architecture’ for deploying, creating, delete, or migrate servers across different clouds.

For those starting afresh, it is easy to write, maintain automation workflows and gives them a plethora of modules which make it easy for newbies to get started.

Benefits Red Hat and its community

Ansible complements Red Hat’s popular cloud products, OpenStack and OpenShift. Red Hat proved to be a complex yet safe open source software for enterprises. However, it was not easy-to-use. Due to this many developers started migrating to other cloud services for easy and simple deployment options.

By adopting Ansible, Red Hat finally provided an easy option to automate and modernize theri IT solutions. Customers can now focus on automating various baseline tasks. It also aids Red Hat to refresh its traditional playbooks; it allows enterprises to use IT services and infrastructure together with the help of Ansible’s YAML.

The most prominent benefit of using Ansible for both enterprises and individuals is that it is agentless. It achieves this by leveraging SSH and Windows remote Management. Both these approaches reuse connections and use minimal network traffic. The approach also has added security benefits and improves both client and central management server resource utilization. Thus, the user does not have to worry about the network or server management, and can focus on other priority tasks.

What can you use it for?

Easy Configurations: Ansible provides developers with easy to understand configurations; understood by both humans and machines. It also includes many modules and user-built roles. Thus, one need not start building from scratch.

Application lifecycle management: One can be rest assured about their application development lifecycle with Ansible. Here, it is used for defining the application and Red Hat Ansible Tower is used for managing the entire deployment process.

Continuous Delivery: Manage your business with the help of Ansible push-based architecture, which allows a more sturdy control over all the required operations. Orchestration of server configuration in batches makes it easy to roll out changes across the environment.

Security and Compliance: While security policies are defined in Ansible, one can choose to integrate the process of scanning and solving issues across the site into other automated processes. Scanning of jobs and system tracking ensures that systems do not deviate from the parameters assigned. Additionally, Ansible Tower provides a secure storage for machine credentials and RBAC (role-based access control).

Orchestration: It brings in a high amount of discipline and order within the environment. This ensures all application pieces work in unison and are easily manageable; despite the complexity of the said applications.

Though it is popular as the IT automation tool, many organizations use it in combination with Chef and Puppet. This is because it may have scaling issues and lacks in performance for larger deployments. Don’t let that stop you from trying Ansible; it is most loved by DevOps as it is written in Python and thus it is easy to learn. Moreover, it offers a credible support and an agentless architecture, which makes it easy to control servers and much more within an application development environment.

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