May 7, 2021

Two Hats Are Redder Than One: Ansible and Management (Week 4)

Two Hats Are Redder Than One: Ansible and Management (Week 4)

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since Cameron and I have posted but with Summit going on and our first quarter of 2021 wrapping up things have been pretty busy at Red Hat. Hopefully you all have taken the time to join the first of our 3 conferences this year, Summit. If you haven’t found the time then please go check it out as all of the digital recordings will be available for a year after the conference ends. Now that the plugs are over, onto the continuation of our technical blog series. We are going to wrap up our discussion on Ansible Automation Platform. To briefly summarize what we discussed in the last post. Ansible Automation Platform (Ansible) is a platform that can be used by IT organizations to automate day-to-day tasks. Ansible operates in an agentless way so there is no software required on the host machines in order to run the playbooks that are used by Ansible to automate tasks. Ansible also uses a human readable language, YAML, for its playbooks. This makes it an easy to use, low resource investment platform for automation. Now that the recap and introduction is out of the way, let’s move to the post.

Cody

In my last blog post I discussed two issues that Enterprises can face within their IT organizations. Those issues being time wasted on mundane tasks and cost on training resources . I set the stage with the issues and if you need a refresher then please go back and read the first week post about Ansible. If you are more interested in hearing the answers then continue reading here. Obviously Ansible can solve these problems in an easy, all-in-one, platform.

To focus on the first issue I presented, wasting resources on mundane tasks. The very nature of an automation platform solves this problem by removing the need for IT resources to be wasted on tasks that can be reproducible. Utilizing Ansible Playbooks as well as the thousands of modules that are already available for Ansible almost any IT task can be automated which can help provide reproducibility and consistency where it counts. This means that, instead of having the new guy provisioning new machines and ensuring they are all properly joined to the domain, you can write a playbook that will go out and automatically do the grunt work. This helps ensure that IT resources who are being compensated for their knowledge are actually able to apply that knowledge.

The second problem that I presented is time and cost wasted on training resources with some new applications that they most likely don’t want to use. Ansible simplifies this issue by utilizing YAML which is a markup language that utilizes plain English syntax and spaces. This means no extra time is spent learning a new syntax and your resources are fully enabled to start making their lives easier right from the get go. While Red Hat does provide full training and certification courses for Ansible, your resources can get on the ground running using the modules already available. For more complex tasks Red Hat services can be utilized to provide more comprehensive solutions and training.

Now obviously over the last two weeks I presented two issues that almost any IT organization can face and how automation, mainly Ansible Automation Platform can help solve these issues. I am going to turn it over to Cameron but stay tuned for the next post where we discuss the future of infrastructure and how containers are shaping what is possible with computing. This of course is utilizing OpenShift Container Platform. I hope you enjoyed these 2 posts, over to you Cameron.

Cam

Thanks Cody!  I know we’ve been talking about Ansible and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform but I think drawing a distinction between the two might be important for folks to understand.  Ansible is the open source project that acts as the engine of automation with a CLI frontend to automate with.  Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform uses the Ansible engine but also adds things that an IT environment at scale would need.  Things like, being able to schedule jobs (one or more playbooks) to run at a certain time, role based access control for people using ansible, and a graphical user interface for convenience and non technical users.

Stephen Hawkings has a book titled “On the Shoulders of Giants” and if Stephen Hawkings believes in building off of great work that’s already been accomplished, who are we to argue?  That’s why Ansible Certified Collections are important to helping you build out automation in your organization.  Collections are premade and certified Ansible Roles and Modules that help you begin automating the different technology in your environment without being constantly weighed down with creating new content yourself.  The certified Collections are also jointly supported by our vast partner ecosystem to make sure that the material remains supported and up to date.

At scale analytics are queen, with managers and engineers alike needing to know what happened when and why to make sure things keep running smoothly and mistakes are minimized.  Ansible Engine alone isn’t built for this but with the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform you are able to easily see the status of the jobs you have run, what has changed in the environment and when new jobs are scheduled to run.  If something seems out of the ordinary or if usage patterns change then you can quickly pivot your strategy to adjust to the needs of your business.

Finally, I would be wrong if I didn’t list off the low hanging fruit for automation in your environment and the companies with Certified Ansible Collections to get you moving on day 1.  For networking, you have Arista, Cisco, F5, Infoblox, Juniper, Palo Alto to name a few.  On the OS and virtualization side of the house you have Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Windows and Windows Server, VMware.  All the major cloud providers and Red Hat OpenStack for scaling into the cloud are certified as well.  Last but not least, is what is becoming more integral everyday in our fast moving world of IT and that is DevOps.  A couple vendors who have Certified Collections in the realm of DevOps are Atlassian, Check Point, CyberArk, Datadog, IBM, Splunk.

Hope this was a good primer to get you started on Ansible, as always feel free to reach out to Cody and me if you have any questions.  See y’all in the next post!