What is Ansible in DevOps?
Ansible is an open source IT Configuration Management, Deployment & Orchestration tool. It aims to provide large productivity gains to a wide variety of automation challenges. This tool is very simple to use yet powerful enough to automate complex multi-tier IT application environments.
In Ansible the passwords are supported, However, you can use SSH keys with the ssh-agents as one of the methods to work with Ansible. You can create any user account and the root user is required. To configure what machines can access which hosts there is a module called “authorized_key”. You can add machines to the Ansible in a simple text format and manage your inventory. It can use the inventory and variable information from other sources such as Rackspace, EC2, and Openstack, etc. If you need to write your code then also you can use Ansible in languages such as Python, Ruby, and Bash, etc which return JSON. You can write your modules, API, and Plugins. Playbooks are the simple and powerful automation language used to orchestrate multiple infrastructures in one goes. This can be done in Ansible.
What is Ansible used for?
Ansible can be used to provision the underlying infrastructure of your environment, virtualized hosts and hypervisors, network devices, and bare metal servers. It can also install services, add compute hosts, and provision resources, services, and applications inside of your cloud. Now let’s talk a bit about the pieces that make up the Ansible environment.
Modules are like small programs that Ansible pushes out from a control machine to all the nodes or remote hosts. The modules are executed using playbooks (see below), and they control things such as services, packages, and files. Ansible executes all the modules for installing updates or whatever the required task is, and then removes them when finished. Ansible provides more than 450 modules for everyday tasks.
As you probably already know from many other tools and platforms, plugins are extra pieces of code that augment functionality. Ansible comes with a number of its plugins, but you can write your own as well. Action, cache, and callback plugins are three examples.
All the machines you’re using with Ansible (the control machine plus nodes) are listed in a single simple file, along with their IP addresses, databases, servers, and so on. Once you register the inventory, you can assign variables to any of the hosts using a simple text file. You can also pull inventory from sources like EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud).
Ansible playbooks are like instruction manuals for tasks. They are simple files written in YAML, which stands for YAML Aren’t Markup Language, a human-readable data serialization language. Playbooks are really at the heart of what makes Ansible so popular is because they describe the tasks to be done quickly and without the need for the user to know or remember any particular syntax. Not only can they declare configurations, but they can orchestrate the steps of any manually ordered task, and can execute tasks at the same time or at different times.
Various APIs (application programming interfaces) are available so you can extend Ansible’s connection types (meaning more than just SSH for transport), callbacks, and more.
Why use DevOps Ansible ?
An open approach to automation can transform your organization’s DevOps – helping modernize IT and deploy better applications faster. Simple to adopt, simple to use, simple to understand – Ansible is designed around the way people work and the way people work together across the entire organization.
With ever-increasing complex IT environments that often need maintenance, updates, scaling-up activities, keeping up-to-date of everything manually is a burden and a daunting task. The automation simplifies complex tasks using tools like Ansible, allowing developers, operations people, and system admins to concentrate on the tasks that add value to the organization.
Ansible is the right choice for many reasons and processes, starting with configuration management, application deployment, orchestration, provisioning, security and compliance. Using Ansible, applications can be defined and managed from the development stage to production. It supports DevOps teams in managing the infrastructure and interaction of configurations and it helps to automate and manage processes.
What is an Ansible tool?
Ansible® is an open sourceIT automation tool that automates provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, orchestration, and many other manual IT processes.
Benefits of using Ansible
- Agentless –There are no agents or software deployed on the clients/servers to work with Ansible. The connection can be done through the SSH or using the Python.
- English Like Language – To use the Ansible, configure, and deploy the infrastructure is very simple and it is English like the language used called YAML.
- Modular – The Ansible uses modules to automate, configure, deploy, and orchestrate the IT Infrastructure. There are around 750 + modules built-in Ansible.
- Efficient – There are no servers, daemons, or databases required for Ansible to work.
- Features – Ansible comes with a whole lot of features and can be used to manage the Operating systems, IT Infrastructure, the networks, the servers, and services in very less time.
- Secure and consistent – Since the Ansible uses SSH and Python it is very secure and the operations are flawless.
- Reliable – The Ansible Playbook can be used to write programs or the modules and can be used to manage the IT without any downside.
- Performance- The Ansible’s performance is excellent and has very little latency.
- Low Overhead – As it is agentless and does not require any servers, daemons, or databases it can provide a lot of space in the systems and has low overhead in terms of deployment.
- Simple – It is very simple to use and is supported by YAML
What Ansible Can Do?
- Configuration Management – The enterprise hardware and software information is recorded and updated in detail, thus maintaining the consistency of the product performance.
- Application Deployment – The applications can be managed in Ansible from Development to Production when you define and manage the applications using Ansible.
- Orchestration – To manage as a whole and how the configurations interact.
- Security and Compliance – Wide security policy can be deployed across the infrastructure when the policy is defined in Ansible
- Provisioning – Helps to automate and manage the process
Ansible Architecture an overview
The Ansible architecture is shown below in the diagram.
The Ansible Orchestration engine is the center of the Ansible tool.
- It consists of an Inventory table, API, Plugins, and modules written to configure, manage, automate, and orchestrate the process.
- It can get the inputs from the Playbook software, public/private cloud, and configuration management databases to do the networking manage the hosts or the servers, operating systems, and manage security.
Ansible is a simple but powerful configuration management and orchestration tool. Ansible is mainly used for the automation of cross-platform computer support tasks. It is fundamentally intended for IT professionals, who use it for configuration management, cloud provisioning, application deployment, intra-service orchestration, updates on workstations and servers, and nearly for anything a systems administrator does on a day-to-day basis. Ansible doesn’t depend on agent software and, most importantly, no additional custom security infrastructure, so this makes it easy to deploy. It uses a straightforward language (YAML, in the form of Ansible Playbooks) that allows people to use it to describe automation jobs, and this way, it’s easy to use.