In an industry hungry for easy plug-and-play automation software, Ansible, launched in 2012, has become a popular choice. And, whilst open source giant Red Hat may have acquired the company in 2015 for an estimated $150m, since then, it’s been business as usual for the “radically simple”solution and its air guitar loving development team (all branches from 2.0 onwards are named after Led Zeppelin songs – before that, it was Van Halen). Ahead of AnsibleFest London 2016, set to take place on February 18th, we caught up with General Manager Todd Barr for a more in-depth look at the rising DevOps tool.
Voxxed: For the uninitiated, how would you summarise Ansible?
Barr: Ansible is a generic IT automation tool that’s simple enough for anyone in IT to use, but extremely powerful at the same time. It allows teams to do more with less, and increase productivity by quickly automating the routine and mundane tasks that take up so much time. In short, it’s IT automation for everyone. It’s really as simple as that.
Ansible is simple, agentless and powerful. You won’t find an easier way to automate. Anyone on your team can use Ansible without extensive training. Plus, with Ansible Tower enterprises can control how and by whom Ansibleautomations are run in their environments, and retain delegation and security visibility that are important for audits.
How does Ansible complement Red Hat’s current/developing range of offerings?
Because Ansible is the common language of IT organizations, there’s wide applicability of Ansible’s capabilities to Red Hat as a whole. Integrations with existing Red Hat offerings such as OpenShift, CloudForms and Satellite provide customers with a broader ability to automate their existing IT environments and ease the transition to a DevOps-enabled organisation. Additionally, we anticipate that Ansible will become increasingly common as an installer for other Red Hat products, much in a similar way that it’s being used for Openshift v3 today.
Are there any disadvantages to having immutable server architecture and design?
Like many things in IT, “it depends.” Thankfully, Ansible is perfectly applicable in both immutable and standard environments. It can be used to build and deploy immutable images, and, of course, to build, deploy, and manage traditional enterprise IT environments.
How does Ansible compare to similar offerings such as Puppet and Chef? How would you compare use case scenarios?
Puppet and Chef are great configurations managers. Ansible is an automation engine, which encompasses provisioning, application deployment, workflow orchestration, as well as configuration management. On that note, there are many Ansible users that use Ansible to automate the deployment and management of configurations that are defined in tools like Puppet or Chef— in short, it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice.