5 Reasons Why Ansible is the Best CM Tool Out There?

So much to blog ….Entry for April 19, 2008

By G C Network | May 18, 2008

When I started this yesterday, I had a list of about five things I wanted to say on this blog. I then decided on a strategy to list topics as…

Hello World ! – May 18, 2008

By G C Network | May 18, 2008

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a blog for about six months now. Initially I didn’t see how any of my contributions to the blogosphere would matter to…

Amidst volatile markets, dynamic technology shifts, and ever-increasing customer demands, it is imperative for IT organizations to develop flexible, scalable and high-quality applications that exceed expectations and enhance productivity. A software application has numerous moving parts, which, if not effectively maintained, will definitely affect the final quality and end user experience.

This is where configuration management (CM) comes into play, its purpose being to maintain the integrity of the product or system throughout its lifecycle while also making the deployment process controllable and repeatable in order to ensure higher quality. Robust configuration management brings the following advantages to the table:

  • Mitigates redundant tasks
  • Manages concurrent updates
  • Eliminates problems related to configuration
  • Streamlines inter-team coordination
  • Makes defect tracking easier

There are several effective CM tools out there like Puppet, Chef, Ansible. And CFEngine, which provide automation for infrastructure, cloud, compliance and security management, integration for deployment and continuous deployment (CI / CD). However, deciding on which tool to select for an organization’s automation requirements is the most critical task for a sysadmin.

A lot of sysadmins will agree that the daily chores of a sysadmin keep them from being updated about automation. When they do spend time in learning the nuances, they come across multiple CM tools that all offer the same benefits theoretically. This further complicates the decision about which CM tool to choose from, especially for people who are just getting started.

So, what is the best tool for people who have minimal idea about automation?—Ansible—and justifiably so! You may ask why. This article will discuss the five reasons that make Ansible one of the most reliable and efficient CM tools out there.

  • An end-to-end tool to simplify automation

Ansible is an end-to-end tool that aids performing all kinds of automation tasks, right from controlling and visualization to simulation and maintenance. This is because Ansible is developed in Python, which gives Ansible access to all general-purpose language features and thousands existing Python packages that you can use to create your own modules. With over 1300 modules, Ansible simplifies several aspects of IT infrastructure, including web, database, network, cloud, cluster, monitoring, and storage.

Configuration Management: Ansible’s most attractive feature is its playbooks, which are nothing but simple instructions/recipes meant to guide Ansible through the task at hand. Playbooks are written in YAML and are human-readable, which makes it all the more easier to navigate through and work with Ansible. Playbooks enable making changes to code, while also making it possible to manage desired states and idempotency natively.

Orchestration: Ansible, though highly simplified, can’t be underestimated when it comes to its orchestration power. It effortlessly integrates with any area of the IT infrastructure, be it provisioning virtual machines (VMs) or creating firewall rules. Moreover, Ansible comes in handy with aspects that other tools leave gaps in, such as zero-stop and continuous updates for multitier applications across the infrastructure.

Provisioning: With several modules for containers (Docker) and virtualization (VMWare, AWS, OpenStack, Azure, and Ovirt), Ansible can easily integrate with several tasks to provide robust and efficient automation.

  • Faster learning curve

Enabling easy initial configuration and installation, the learning curve related to Ansible is extremely quick. Figure this—you can install, configure, and execute ad-hoc commands for ‘n’ number of servers within 30 minutes, no matter what the issue is, be it daylight savings, synchronization, root security, server updation, and so on.

Moreover, it takes no time, even for a beginner, to understand the syntax and workflows, owing to the fact that it uses YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language). YAML is human-readable and, therefore, extremely user-friendly and easy-to-understand. Add to it the Python libraries and modules, you have a very simple yet quite powerful CM tool in your hands.

  • Highly adaptive and flexible

Unlike legacy infrastructure models, which take too long to converge to a fully automated environment, Ansible is highly flexible in this regards. As the tech space becomes increasingly dynamic, it is only understandable that the environments have to be flexible enough to imbibe any changes without affecting the output. Otherwise, it may lead to undesired costs, inter-team conflicts, and manual interventions.

Ansible, however, effortlessly adapts to mixed environments, peacefully coexisting with partial and fully automated environments alike, while also enabling seamless transition between models.

  • Full Ansible control

No agents need to be installed at the endpoints for Ansible; all you need is an Ansible-installed server, managing access to servers through SSH (for Linux environments) and WINRM (Windows Remote Access) protocols. Thanks to playbooks, all the desired settings on the hosts defined in the inventory can also run ad-hoc via the command line without any file definitions required whatsoever. This makes it much faster than the traditional client-server models.

  • Instant automation

Right from the instant you can ping the hosts through Ansible, you can start automating your environment immediately. It’s advisable to begin with smaller tasks, duly following best practices, and prioritize tasks that contribute to achieving the business goals. This will help identify and solve problems much swiftly, while also gaining time and enhancing efficiency.

In a nutshell, where Ansible wins over its competitors is in its simplicity—even a beginner can master it in no time—and its powerful features that make configuration management a cakewalk. Choosing Ansible will help heal the Achille’s Heel of automation while also majorly enhancing productivity and efficiency.

If you found this article interesting and wish to learn more about Ansible, you can explore Learn Ansible, an end-to-end guide that will aid you in effectively automating cloud, security, and network infrastructure. Learn Ansible follows a hands-on approach to give you practical experience in writing playbooks and roles, and executing them. 

( This sponsored post is part of a series designed to highlight recently published Packt books about leading technologies and software applications. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners.)

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