March 22, 2021

Two Hats Are Redder Than One: Ansible and Management (Week 3)

Two Hats Are Redder Than One: Ansible and Management (Week 3)

Hi Everyone!

We hope you enjoyed the first topic of our tech blog series. While there is plenty of more information that we could publish on RHEL we tried to at least wet the whistle on Operating systems and Red Hat Enterprise Linux at a 10,000 foot level. With the foundation of Red Hat’s portfolio set. Following a customer’s adoption journey the next step would be a way to manage and automate the many instances of RHEL you have running. Thankfully Red Hat has a way to do this, utilizing Red Hat’s Ansible Automation Platform (Ansible for short) you can reduce the amount of work your IT department is required to perform. Cameron and I will delve more into this offering over the next two posts and how it can benefit any organization.

Cody

Ansible Automation Platform is a very interesting product offering. Arguably it solves one of the oldest and biggest issues within Enterprise Information Technology. That issue being reproducibility and management of new and existing infrastructure. Prior to implementing Ansible, an IT organization would have to waste valuable time spinning up new machines. Whether that be for production on the manufacturing line, for new employees, or even for testing a new product this process is usually a monotonous task. IT resources have to install the right version of the OS, set up proper networking, ensure the machine has the appropriate security and verify the versions of all dependencies. Then once the machine is being used IT has to ensure that the versions of everything being utilized are up to date. As you can see we have an issue with how an IT organization can be run.

Like with any changing organization, enterprises are faced with ensuring that resources are properly enabled and are up to date with the latest technologies and trends. Continuing education is a very expensive necessity and with the ever changing environment that is IT technology it can be difficult to keep up with the newest technologies. Once your resource is trained they need to make sure each machine that is being utilized is able to comply with new policy changes. New technology is always a gamble when implementing. If a company is going to invest in a new product they have to be sure their current resources are up to the task of using it. IT organizations do not want to waste resources in learning to use something new so simplicity is king when it comes to selecting any new software.

The problems I have listed above aren’t unique to any specific enterprise or industry, they are generic issues that can come up in any organization. If you have any prior understanding of Ansible Automation Platform then you will know where I am going with this. But, I wouldn’t be a good blog writer if I didn’t leave something to keep you coming back for next week so I am going to pass it over to my associate Cameron. Next week I will dive into how Ansible can be used to solve the two problems I presented above, as well as what Ansible Automation Platform is and what components make up the greater offering. Feel free to post your thoughts and questions below and we would love to continue the conversation. Thanks for taking the time to read my post, now over to Cameron.

Cam

Steve Jobs once called the computer “a bicycle for the mind”.  If that’s true then Red Hat Ansible Automation is the cruise control for that bike.  All the little things associated with getting computers to do what you want, some of which Cody mentioned above, can be done in an automated manner saving effort and improving efficiency.  This automation is intentional as well, with people writing playbooks to power the automation.  These are then stored and managed in a source code management (SCM) format, on Github or some other platform.  This allows you to create policies as code for the management of your IT environment adding transparency to who has done what and insurance that the environment is in the desired state and configuration.

I think most of us have spent countless hours troubleshooting a problem and thought at the end of it “god I don’t want to ever do that again”.  Automation like Ansible is designed to help with that.  I can’t say that you won’t ever troubleshoot something again but after you solve it once and put it in a playbook you can contribute that to your repo so that no one else has to go through the trouble you did.  If it can be automated it will be automated.  That is the motto of a team leveraging Red Hat Ansible Automation.  You capture effort once and are able to reuse it.

It has to be reiterated from what Cody mentioned above that no one likes doing the same thing over and over.  It’s bad for a team's morale and it's horrible for productivity.  Human beings are built to be creative problem solvers not cogs in a process.  Creativity not cogs is our future with automation.  In IT specifically technological innovation and complexity is growing tremendously.  So much so that the supply of talent isn’t growing to meet it.  With tools like Red Hat’s Ansible Automation you can head off that problem.  Growing teams to work smarter not harder is the only way to scale talent alongside technology.

Lastly, I want to make a counter point to something that gets brought up a lot surrounding automation.  That counter point being that by empowering people with automation tools you are making employees more valuable, not expendable.  The notion that automation takes jobs away is not unfounded but in the case of IT automation the demand for productive humans is voracious.  Automation is creating more valuable employees, not fewer employees.