Ansible: The power of Automation tool

There is a saying that complexity kills productivity. Doing the same code is quite a tiring task. Not only manual effort takes time also, but it also gets pretty complicated sometimes. We have Ansible, a simple, yet powerful IT automation engine that thousands of companies are using to drive complexity out of their environments and accelerate DevOps initiatives.

What is Ansible?

Ansible is an open-source software provisioning, configuration management, intraservice orchestration, and application-deployment tool enabling infrastructure as code. Ansible is all about Automation. It uses playbooks to make deployments faster and scale to various environments. A playbook consists of the steps needed to deploy policies, applications, configurations, and IT infrastructure. Ansible allows us to configure not just one system but potentially a whole network of nodes at once, and using it requires no programming skills. Instructions written for Ansible are human-readable.

How does Ansible work?

In Ansible, we have two types of nodes: the control node and the managed nodes. A control node is the one which runs Ansible and which will be responsible for configuring the other nodes. The IP address of the managed nodes should be there in its inventory. The managed node is the one node that is being controlled by the control node. There can be multiple managed nodes.

Ansible works by connecting to nodes on a network and then sending a small program called an Ansible module to that node. Ansible executes these modules over SSH(by default) and removes them when finished. The only requirement for this interaction is that your Ansible control node has login access to the managed nodes.

What are the benefits of Ansible?

Easy to begin

It is very, very simple to set up and yet powerful. Ansible is a simple automation language that is easy-to-learn, self-documenting.

Enterprise support from Red Hat

Ansible is open source. However, it comes with a subscription from Red Hat. The beauty of allowing people free access to technology is that open source communities become the driving source of innovation. It lets the user to the comprehensiveness of applicability that provides flexibility.

Accelerated automation

Ansible is agentless, and that means it takes a few minutes to set up using OpenSSH without installing anything on the servers.

Simplifying information technology

The automation mechanisms used are significantly easy for an untrained operations-type person that is not a coder to be able to automate using Ansible.

Information power multiplied

The primary benefit of Ansible is it allows IT administrators to automate away the drudgery from their daily tasks.

USE CASE

Provision

Automating the provisioning of any infrastructure is the first step in automating the operational life cycle of your applications. Ansible can provision the latest cloud platforms, virtualized hosts and hypervisors, network devices, and bare-metal servers. Provisioning with Ansible allows you to seamlessly transition into configuration management, orchestration, and application deployment using the same simple, human-readable, automation language.

Configuration Management

We currently manage our systems with a collection of scripts and ad-hoc practices curated or using an automation framework that requires a bit too much of your time to maintain. Virtualization and cloud technology have increased the complexity, and the number of systems to manage is only growing.

We need a consistent, reliable, and secure way to manage the environment — but many solutions have gone way too far in the other direction, actually adding complexity to an already complicated problem.

Application Deployment

Ansible is the simplest way to deploy your applications. It gives you the power to deploy multi-tier applications reliably and consistently, all from one common framework.

Continuous Delivery( CI/CD)

“Release early, release often” way. If release often is ideal, continuous application delivery may be nirvana. Automation is key — but so is simplicity. Ansible does with one of the easiest paths to continuous delivery in the industry by enabling quick turnaround, requiring human intervention only when necessary

Security Information

Ansible Automation Platform can automate and integrate different security solutions that can investigate and respond to threats across the enterprise in a coordinated, unified way using a curated collection of modules, roles, and playbooks.

Orchestration

IT brings complex deployments and complex challenges. There are clustered applications, multiple data centers, public, private and hybrid clouds, and applications with complex dependencies. With Ansible we can orchestrate easily.

Market Share

We have information on 8,781 organizations that use Ansible. The companies utilizing Ansible are frequently found in the United States and the Computer Software industry. Ansible is regularly utilized by organizations with 50–200 workers and 10M-50M dollars in income.

. Our information for Ansible utilization returns similar to 3 years and 4 months. Ansible is ranked #3 put of 45 Configuration Management technologies in Datanyze Universe

Breaking these results down year-over-year, the use of Ansible grew from 36% in 2018 to 41% in 2019 — surpassing Chef, which grew from 36% to 37%, as well as Puppet, which grew from 34% to 37%. Rounding out the list is Terraform, which experienced a jump from 20% to 31%, and Salt, which increased in usage from 13% to 18%.

Success stories of companies using Ansible

HOOTSUITE

Hootsuite is a social media management system used by businesses and organizations. It allows the execution of social media campaigns on a variety of networks from a secure dashboard. Hootsuite is popular among Fortune 1000 companies.

The main challenge facing Hootsuite was the lack of repeatability. This made automating Hootsuite’s infrastructure a challenge, and Hootsuite was also facing difficulties in application deployment.

To resolve this, Hootsuite introduced Ansible core. This allowed Hootsuite to build servers from scratch and enabled repeatability. In the future, Hootsuite plans to implement an Ansible migration of its app deployment and possibly in ad hoc production server management.

Since performing their Ansible migration, Hootsuite says ops and devs ‘feel safer’. Additionally, Ansible allows developers to repeatedly test server builds on a local level until the team can be sure they work.

Hootsuite intends to use Ansible in many other ways, and as Beier Cai, Director of Technology, Hootsuite Media Inc., explains, “In the beginning, I didn’t realize Ansible is good for orchestration as well but found it out quickly and I loved it as it beats competitors right there.”

AMELCO

Amelco is a UK-based company that develops software solutions for the betting industry and financial betting markets. The business was looking for a way to deploy its applications efficiently across its hundreds of different environments, and it also sought to limit downtime. To do this, Amelco performed an Ansible migration to an agentless automation framework. This reduced the complexities it faced with the deployment, operations, and the upgrade of applications over a range of contrasting locations, while also using one simplified language.

Besides, by introducing the Ansible and Ansible Tower, Amelco has successfully automated its application deployments. Other benefits include reduced complexity and continuous delivery, along with speed solution delivery.

Further benefits include:

  • “Faster time to deployment for its bespoke and modular client solutions, resulting in speedier time to market and higher customer satisfaction”.
  • “A simplified and repeatable deployment process, leveraging true multi-tier, multi-step orchestration that minimized the complex dependencies of heterogeneous environments,”.

LIFESUM

Based in Stockholm, Lifesum is a digital health platform that encourages users to lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Lifesum has proved hugely successful throughout Europe, reaching over 6 million downloads so far.

Lifesum’s platform uses a host of applications, in addition to a joint back end API, and it bases its infrastructure on AWS. Lifesum was looking for a simplified yet robust tool to allow configuration management, application deployment, and server provisioning.

Before introducing Ansible, Lifesum had used another tool but found provisioning and managing different environments a challenge.

Lifesum started their Ansible migration in 2014. It started implementing Ansible straight away and has used it in several major areas. First, Lifesum used Ansible playbooks “to automatically spin up virtual development machines with Vagrant”.

In the case study, Michal Gasek, SYSOPS Engineer/DBA at Lifesum also notes that Lifesum’s goal, “[is] to ensure that everyone had the same working environment as we deploy our applications regularly. Three months later all our environments, from developer’s laptops to production instances on Amazon, [are] fully Ansible managed.”

Gasek continues, “We use AWS Auto Scaling and pre-bake Amazon AMI images with Ansible provisioning playbooks. When EC2 instances are launched by Auto Scaling, Ansible, triggered by cloud-init, runs provisioning playbooks, once again ensuring up-to-date configuration changes are applied, and pulling the latest application versions from repositories. Ansible has helped us to automate, significantly simplify, and speed up the process of dynamic resources scaling”.

Gasek adds that Ansible stood out because of its ‘power and simplicity’. Gasek also highlights how Ansible has enabled developers to concentrate on building ‘great product features’, rather than solving common problems like inconsistencies and misconfiguration.

FATMAP

Fatmap is a technology-based company infrastructure: Windows, Linux, OS X which deals in Application Deployment, and the main problem they face is Time savings — Fatmap’s application development process was a complex one. Because they used 3D gaming technology in order to serve map content, the application build process involved a lengthy meta-programming pipeline and processing phase. Fatmap required a solution that would speed and automate this time-consuming process. Additionally, their network environment was a heterogeneous one, utilizing a mixture of Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms, they needed a solution that would integrate seamlessly with existing machines. For this Ansible’s simple automation framework gives teams the power to deploy multi-tier applications quickly and reliably. Ansible models IT infrastructures by describing how all systems inter-relate, rather than just managing one system at a time. Using simple language in the form of Ansible Playbooks, allows users to describe their automation jobs in plain English which ensures easy adoption and use. Using Ansible, FATMAP has also increased the efficiency of the team by amalgamating its deployment best practices in one toolbox. And because Ansible’s agentless design integrates easily with a variety of networks, infrastructures, and operating systems (OS), it was easily introduced into FATMAP’s hybrid OS environment. Using Ansible to automate application deployment, FATMAP has reduced complexity, realized significant time-savings, and achieved unparalleled scalability. Ansible solution benefits • Faster time to deployment for data-rich applications • A predictable and simplified deployment process, creating deterministic outcomes and better utilization of team resources • Improved integration of disparate machines and seamless automation of critical tasks across services and applications.

Thank you!!