Red Hat Ansible, the name synonymous with Information Technology (IT) Automation, just completed their largest confab known as AnsibleFest 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia (aka Hotlanta). This was the largest AnsibleFest ever, with 1404 attendees from 39 countries, demonstrating the global interest in Ansible. You might be thinking AnsibleFest sounds like an alt-rock music festival or a clump of heavily bearded hackers that are penetrating the dark recesses of the web. Sorry, to disappoint, but AnsibleFest is a gathering of the Information Technologists, learning more about and expanding upon their understanding of the language of IT automation.
What is Ansible?
Ansible is the first language that can be read and written across all of IT. It can aid an entire app life cycle (DevOps) and continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines. It can be utilized to configure network gear and to change SNMP community strings on a schedule, but don’t forget to remove the old strings!. Or, it can be utilized to modify Firewall polices and/or open ports, while minimizing human interactions. It can also be used to aid in deploying storage arrays or making config modifications. Or perhaps, you want to deploy a highly available database… you can use Ansible for that too. Ansible comes w/ 3000+ modules for a wide variety of automation tasks (expands each release). Ansible is also the 6th most downloaded Open Source project from GitHub. Ansible provides Automation at Scale! I like to think of Ansible as The Tool to Overcome the IT integration short comings!
Three Intense Days
It was a three-day event, and the first two days each had the appropriate mix of general sessions and deep-dive sessions, while the last day was reserved for workshop specific items.
Day 1 (aka Contributor Summit) had over 130 contributors. This number might sound small, but it is more than attended the first AnsibleFest back in the day.
Day 2 started the Tracks and Sessions – Over 10 tracks with 90+ sessions, all covering the IT automation language that takes any task that can be solved and converts it into an automation task.
As one might expect, there were a few Headline release items discussed this week, such as: The Red Hat Automation Platform which consists of Collections, Automation Hub (aka AH) and Automation Analytics. These features will be available in the next few weeks, with the new releases for Ansible and Ansible Tower. Keep an eye out for these powerful upgrades!
Collections follows Red Hat’s mantra of never start from Zero; check the community (Galaxy) for any type of collection you need; then download several samples and review them; then modify them to meet your needs. The other huge benefit is collections helps the Ansible ecosystem partners get their stuff into the Ansible Community. (I see this as bringing flexibility to users and developers). Collections’ namespace helps to avoid name conflicts, which can be brutal to troubleshoot. They are also vital for multi-tenant scenarios. Why re-invent the wheel when 90% of work is already done for you! Put another way, learn from others and leapfrog your knowledge. So, what are collections? Red Hat Collections are the delivery mechanism for Ansible content moving forward. You can use collections to package and distribute playbooks, roles, modules, and plugins. You can publish and access collections through Ansible Galaxy.
Automation Hub is a repository for users to find certified Ansible Collections. Think of it as the one-stop shop for all things Ansible. Automation Hub is protected by Red Hat security (cloud.redhat.com). Finally, from the new feature offerings comes Automation Analytics. It provides customers with details, and more importantly knowledge, about their initiatives around automation.
You want to start your Ansible Journey with the low-hanging fruit of those repeatable processes that must be done but have a high level of aggravation for IT staff. Then progress to stringing together multiple playbooks and working with other business units, to help them reach their IT automation goals. Don’t overlook capturing how much time each automation brings to your organization, and then present those to management. You will get to the point where you can start to displace legacy tools that are hard to work with, and that provide no value for your Audits… with, you guessed it, Ansible. Its great for Auditing and Reporting too.
Day 3 – Hands on workshops, lots of direct exposure to Ansible for all skill levels and the ability to get help from Red Hat Subject Matter Experts.
Ansible-lint – Part of the developer experience, run Roles and Playbooks against this tool
Ansible-Bot – What Ansible has been using for years internally for testing
Ansible-test – Ansible Unit tests
New to me – YAML Alias – powerful tool to help reduce number of lines of code being written, several great examples on GitHub
Couldn’t attend or missed a session?
If you did not attend AnsibleFest or missed some of the sessions while you were there, you should be able to catch them when they are posted by Red Hat in several weeks.
This was a top-notch conference, from the venue (not having to walk 2-3 miles to get to the main site), to the timing of the sessions, breaks and evening receptions. The partner pavilion was filled with lots of ecosystem firms with fantastic demos, not to mention the swag. I highly recommend this event, in order to meet others experiencing the same journey.
In Summary, Ansible is an open-sourced product and is free for unlimited nodes. Since you can get Ansible up and running in 30-minutes, isn’t about time you invest in IT Automation? If you agree, why not utilize the best IT Automation tool available? Deploy Ansible to decrease human errors, while freeing you up to innovate and to drive business growth.
Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about IT Automation and how it can help you get back to innovating for your business with Red Hat Ansible. You may also contact your Account Executive regarding Red Hat Ansible or click here to contact us with any other questions.