How Ansible is solving Industries challenges?
WHAT IS ANSIBLE?
Ansible is a radically simple IT automation engine that automates cloud provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, intra-service orchestration, and many other IT needs. Designed for multi-tier deployments since day one, Ansible models your IT infrastructure by describing how all of your systems inter-relate, rather than just managing one system at a time. It uses no agents and no additional custom security infrastructure, so it’s easy to deploy — and most importantly, it uses a very simple language (YAML, in the form of Ansible Playbooks) that allow you to describe your automation jobs in a way that approaches plain English.
Advantages of Ansible
- Free: Ansible is an open-source tool.
- Very simple to set up and use: No special coding skills are necessary to use Ansible’s playbooks (more on playbooks later).
- Powerful: Ansible lets you model even highly complex IT workflows.
- Flexible: You can orchestrate the entire application environment no matter where it’s deployed. You can also customize it based on your needs.
- Agentless: You don’t need to install any other software or firewall ports on the client systems you want to automate. You also don’t have to set up a separate management structure.
- Efficient: Because you don’t need to install any extra software, there’s more room for application resources on your server.
Features and Capabilities of Ansible
- Configuration Management
- Application Deployment
- Security and Compliance
- Cloud Provisioning
ARCHITECTURE OF ANSIBLE
Modules are like small programs that Ansible pushes out from a control machine to all the nodes or remote hosts. The modules are executed using playbooks (see below), and they control things such as services, packages, and files. Ansible executes all the modules for installing updates or whatever the required task is, and then removes them when finished. Ansible provides more than 450 modules for everyday tasks.
As you probably already know from many other tools and platforms, plugins are extra pieces of code that augment functionality. Ansible comes with a number of its plugins, but you can write your own as well. Action, cache, and callback plugins are three examples.
All the machines you’re using with Ansible (the control machine plus nodes) are listed in a single simple file, along with their IP addresses, databases, servers, and so on. Once you register the inventory, you can assign variables to any of the hosts using a simple text file. You can also pull inventory from sources like EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud).
Ansible playbooks are like instruction manuals for tasks. They are simple files written in YAML, which stands for YAML Ain’t Markup Language, a human-readable data serialization language. Playbooks are really at the heart of what makes Ansible so popular is because they describe the tasks to be done quickly and without the need for the user to know or remember any particular syntax. Not only can they declare configurations, but they can orchestrate the steps of any manually ordered task, and can execute tasks at the same time or at different times.
Each playbook is composed of one or multiple plays, and the goal of a play is to map a group of hosts to well-defined roles, represented by tasks.
Various APIs (application programming interfaces) are available so you can extend Ansible’s connection types (meaning more than just SSH for transport), callbacks, and more.
Advantages of Ansible
→ Human readable automation
→No special coding skills needed
→Tasks executed in order
→Get productive quickly
→Orchestrate the app lifecycle
→Uses OpenSSH and WinRM
→No agents to exploit or update
→Predictable, reliable and secure
What is Ansible Tower?
Ansible Tower is Red Hat’s commercial web-based solution for managing Ansible. Its best-known feature is an easy-to-use UI (user interface) for managing configurations and deployments, which is a significant improvement over the original UI. Ansible Tower contains the essential features of Ansible, especially those that are easier to see in a graphical format rather than a text-based format. It is free for up to 10 nodes.
Ansible Tower main features
- Visual Dashboard
- Graphical Inventory management
- Job scheduling
- Job history report
- Remote command execution
- Centralized logging
- Multi-playbook workflow
- Restful API
Benefits of Ansible Tower
- Reuse of ansible scripts across organization
- Provides shared infrastructure for team to run ansible scripts
- Ease of managing privileged and guarded administrator credentials
- Ease of use for IT teams that traditionally use GUI tools
- Ansible Tower provides framework for running, managing Ansible Automation Platform efficiently on enterprise scale
- Offers web interface, RBAC, centralized logging and auditing
- RESTful API facilitates integration with enterprise’s existing workflows and tool sets
Ansible Tower Architecture
- Users interface with Ansible Automation Platform infrastructure via Ansible Tower’s web interface or RESTful API
- Web interface is graphical interface wrapper that executes calls against API
- Actions available through web interface also available via API
- RESTful API essential to integrate Ansible Automation Platform with existing software tools and processes
- Ansible Tower stores data in PostgreSQL back-end database and uses RabbitMQ messaging system
- Single machine with integrated database
- Single machine with remote database
- High-availability multi-machine cluster
Challenges faced by industries Solved Using Ansible
Nasa challenges Solved by Ansible:
NASA needed to move roughly 65 applications from a traditional hardware based data center to a cloud-based environment for better agility and cost savings. The rapid timeline resulted in many applications being migrated ‘as-is’ to a cloud environment. This created an environment spanning multiple virtual private clouds (VPCs) and AWS accounts that could not be easily managed. Even simple things, like ensuring every system administrator had access to every server, or simple patching, were extremely burdensome.
Leverage Ansible Tower to manage and schedule the cloud environment.
As a result of implementing Ansible Tower, NASA is better equipped to manage its AWS environment. Tower allowed NASA to provide better operations and security to its clients. It has also increased efficiency as a team. By the numbers:
- Updating nasa.gov went from over 1 hour to under 5 minutes.
- Patching updates went from a multi-day process to 45 minutes.
- Achieving near real-time RAM and disk monitoring (accomplished without agents).
- Provisioning OS Accounts across entire environment in under 10 minutes.
- Baselining standard AMIs went from 1 hour of manual configuration to becoming an invisible and seamless background process.
- Application stack set up from 1–2 hours to under 10 minutes per stack.
“Ansible Tower has allowed us to provide better operations and security to our clients. It has also increased our efficiency as a team.”
Swisscom Challenges Solved by Ansible
To stay competitive in the challenging network infrastructure market, Swisscom needed a tool for enterprise-wide IT and network automation.
Red Hat Ansible Tower to automate management of around 15,000 components, including servers, firewalls, network devices, and storage devices. Ansible Tower’s self-service provisioning and role-based access capabilities also help Swisscom’s teams focus on more valuable development projects and accelerate response times for resource requests.
- Anticipated saving approximately 3,000 hours per year in manual operating system tasks.
- Improved collaboration with standardized playbooks and monthly sync meetings.
- Implemented self-service capabilities for IT tasks, simplifying and accelerating common tasks.
British Army Challenges Solved by Ansible
The British Army relies on IT to support its personnel deployed around the world. Its Information Application Services (IAS) Branch delivers software applications, hosting, and web services to the British Army. To overcome issues with unplanned downtime and support.
Automated management through Red Hat Ansible, IAS can deploy changes faster and more efficiently. In addition, the new environment has reduced manual and other errors and eliminated unplanned downtime, helping improve the end user experience.
- Simplified and automated management to improve consistency and reduce manual errors.
- Accelerated deployment of critical patches from three days to three hours and cut changed delivery time by 75%.
- Improved agility by enhancing DevOps approach used to deliver services to users.
- Gained access to expert support for troubleshooting any issues with new environment.
“Rather than bulk delivery, we are able to deliver incrementally, and we no longer frustrate users with significant downtime during working hours.”
— LT. COL. DORIAN SEABROOK
HEAD OF OPERATIONS,
SERVICES (IAS) BRANCH,
NETAPP Challenges Solved by Ansible
NetApp, a data management technology company, sought to improve the speed and efficiency of its IT service delivery.
The company automated manual, repetitive management processes and streamlined storage provisioning using Red Hat Ansible Automation and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. As a result, NetApp has dramatically reduced delays and human errors — eliminating hundreds of hours of manual work — and accelerated application delivery times from weeks to minutes.
- Achieved more efficient and accurate IT infrastructure maintenance.
- Reduced application delivery time from weeks to minutes.
- Gained support for evolution to modern, cloud-based application architecture.
“This project had occupied dozens of staff for weeks, with many more weeks to go. With Ansible, we completed it in two days.”
— DAVID FOX
SENIOR UNIX ENGINEER, NETAPP
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