Dan's Take

Red Hat Upgrades Ansible

The open source automation platform introduces the "Ansible Engine."

At the recent Ansiblefest 2017, Red Hat announced some enhancements and improvements to Ansible. During the announcement festivities, the company offered some interesting statistics about the Ansible ecosystem, including the following:

"Ansible has become one of the world's most popular open source IT automation technologies, with nearly 3,000 unique contributors, more than 32,000 commits to the upstream Ansible open source project, and a user base that spans industries and the globe."

During the event, Red Hat introduced several Ansible enhancements including the following:

  • Red Hat Ansible Engine, a new offering designed to bring "enterprise-grade global support" to the Ansible automation community project.
  • Red Hat Ansible Engine Networking Add-on, including full support for select networking platform modules.
  • Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.2, the latest version of enterprise Ansible automation management platform.

The company points out that current Ansible Tower customers can add an Ansible Engine subscription to their Ansible Tower subscription at any time to gain support for the underlying Ansible automation that powers Ansible Tower.

I spoke with Red Hat's Joe Fitzgerald about Ansible back in May, and came away with the impression that Red Hat, like so many others in the management and automation tools market, really didn't mean "the enterprise" when talking about the enterprise. Often, what the company really means is a focus on current and future systems, while forgetting important, if outdated, systems from the past still running in the enterprise.

I've subsequently had another conversation with Fitzgerald along with a few Ansible users; through that I learned another story, one that I liked much better. The Ansible community has been busy linking many important legacy systems to the framework, allowing monitoring and management to be automated across the datacenter. It's clear that this latest Ansible release is designed to both support those efforts and take incremental steps forward.

Dan's Take: Survey the Field
Ansible, however, isn't the only game in town when it comes to multi-platform, multi-system monitoring and management technology. Just a few of the many alternatives include Puppet, Salt, Chef and Rex.

Each of these alternatives has its own area of focus and its own community, with similar stories about community projects upgrading the platform. Puppet, for example, has a dynamic community and has expanded the capabilities of their monitoring and automation platform. I've spoken with some of their community members at events and they've expressed intense enthusiasm for Puppet's capabilities and usefulness.

Let's not forget Microsoft's system management products, either. They focus primarily, of course, on Windows and Windows-centric computing environments; but as Linux virtual machines (VMs) are supported on Windows servers or in Azure-based environments, and iOS and Android endpoints are increasingly being supported, Microsoft's management tools have been expanded, too.

Will you find Ansible a worthy monitoring and automation environment? After listening to Fitzgerald and some Ansible users, I came away impressed with what Ansible can do. If you take the time to speak with members of the Ansible community, you might feel the same way.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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