Ansible and How Industries are Solving Challenges using it

Hello everyone, you all might have heard the name Ansible from different people and corporates but have wondered that what is it and what are its use cases i.e why it is so common in industries etc. So let me take you to the tour to Automation world where Ansible plays a major role.

What is Ansible?

Ansible is an open-source automation framework for IT processes like configuration management, application deployment, intra-service orchestration, and provisioning. So, in layman’s terms, you can use Ansible to setup other people’s laptops or operating systems across the network. You can also start containers, clusters, and almost automate everything to make your life easier.

Why Ansible?

Modernization and digital transformation require automation as a critical and strategic component. A new form of management solution is required in today’s dynamic contexts to increase speed, scale, and stability throughout the entire IT infrastructure. With IT setups that are too complicated and often need to scale too quickly for system administrators and developers to manage, automation is critical these days. Automation makes difficult activities easier to manage, allowing engineers to focus on tasks that offer value to the organization. In other words, it saves time and boosts productivity. And in the realm of automation tools, Ansible is quickly rising to the top.

Advantages of Ansible

  • Ansible is a free, open-source utility.
  • It’s really easy to set up and use: Ansible’s playbooks don’t require any special coding knowledge (more on playbooks later).
  • Ansible is a powerful tool that allows you to model even the most complicated IT procedures.
  • Flexible: Regardless of where the application is installed, you may orchestrate the complete application environment. You can also adapt it to meet your specific requirements.
  • Agentless: On the client computers you want to automate, you don’t need to install any extra software or open any firewall ports. You don’t even need to create a separate management structure.
  • Efficient: Because no additional software is required, there is more space on your server for application resources.

Ansible’s Features and Capabilities

1. Configuration Management

Ansible is a configuration management tool that is supposed to be easy, dependable, and consistent. If you already work in IT, you’ll be able to get up and running quickly. Ansible configurations are simple infrastructure data descriptions that can be read by humans and parsed by machines. To begin administering computers, all you need is a password or an SSH (Secure Socket Shell) key. An illustration of how simple configuration management is with Ansible: If you want to update a specific sort of software on all of the machines in your company, all you have to do is write down all of the nodes’ IP addresses (also known as remote hosts) and create an Ansible playbook to install it on all of them, then run the playbook from your control machine.

2. Application Deployment

Ansible allows you to deploy multitier programs quickly and easily. You won’t need to create custom code to automate your systems; instead, you’ll write a playbook that lists the actions that must be completed, and Ansible will figure out how to get your systems to the condition you desire. To put it another way, you won’t have to manually configure the programs on each system. Ansible uses SSH to communicate with remote hosts and execute all commands when you run a playbook from your control computer (tasks).

3. Orchestration

Orchestration, as the name implies, entails combining several elements into a well-oiled machine, much like a musical conductor combining the notes produced by various instruments into an unified creative performance. When it comes to application deployment, for example, you must take care of not just the front-end and back-end services, but also the databases, networks, and storage. You must also ensure that all jobs are completed in the correct order. Ansible makes job orchestration simple by using automated workflows, provisioning, and other features. Because Ansible playbooks are portable, you can utilize the same orchestration anywhere you need it once you’ve defined your infrastructure using Ansible playbooks.

4. Security and Compliance

Sitewide security policies (such as firewall rules or user locking down) can be applied alongside other automated procedures, just as application deployment. When you configure the security details on the control computer and run the accompanying script, those details are automatically updated on all remote hosts. That means you won’t have to manually check each machine for security compliance on a regular basis. An admin’s user ID and password aren’t retrievable in plain text on Ansible for added protection.

5. Cloud Provisioning

The provisioning of your infrastructure is the first step in automating the life cycle of your applications. Cloud platforms, virtualized hosts, network devices, and bare-metal servers may all be provisioned with Ansible.

Companies benefitted from Ansible

Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation develops, manufactures, and supports software, consumer electronics and computers, and related services. To simplify and scale at pace with market demands, Microsoft worked with Red Hat to create a scalable, technology-agnostic automation framework to reduce manual workloads with efficient tools and processes, and mitigate performance and security issues with standardized, tested code.

Challenge

Microsoft wanted to address growing complexity in their corporate network architecture, which connects Microsoft offices around the world and includes tens of thousands of endpoints. Their challenges were aggravated as code developed by development and engineering teams were not version-controlled or peer-reviewed, leading to redundancy and quality issues.

“We have thousands of devices of various makes and models and software versions, so at times, it’s hard to keep up with all the different vendors and ways that we interact with those devices,” said Bart Dworak, Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft.

Solution: Build a culture of modern development

Microsoft established a standardised, centralised network automation infrastructure using Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat Consulting, reducing routine, repeating operations and complexity.

“Digital transformation is really changing the way that we think about how we solve problems,” said Dworak. “In the past, we had to manually do the same deployment again and again. With Ansible, we can create blueprints to deploy it multiple times. And every time we deploy, it’s exactly the same.”

Result: Establish a collaborative, creative development mindset

Microsoft’s automation journey has progressed from manual scripting and adjustments to a continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) strategy supported by a centralised, service-based architecture by focusing on people, process, and technology. Their DevOps teams can now concentrate on knowledge exchange, talent development, and developing breakthrough technology solutions.

“Teams are coming together to solve engineering problems in a shared environment of co-creation,” said Sonika Munde, Remote Access Services Engineer, Core Service Engineering, at Microsoft. “We are truly seeing One Microsoft in action.”

NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

Challenge

NASA sought to migrate approximately 65 applications from a traditional hardware-based data center to a cloud-based environment in order to improve agility and save costs. Because of the tight deadline, several apps were transferred ‘as-is’ to the cloud. This resulted in a difficult-to-manage infrastructure spanning several virtual private clouds (VPCs) and AWS accounts. Even simple tasks like ensuring that every system administrator had access to each server and updating were very time-consuming.

Solution

So to avoid this NASA realized to leverage Ansible Tower to manage and schedule the cloud environment

Results

NASA is better suited to manage its AWS infrastructure as a result of using Ansible Tower. Tower enabled NASA to improve its operations and security for its customers. It has also improved teamwork efficiency. According to the numbers:

  • Updating nasa.gov took less than 5 minutes instead of almost an hour.
  • Patching updates went from taking days to just 45 minutes.
  • Monitoring RAM and discs in near-real-time (accomplished without agents)
  • In less than 10 minutes, you can provision OS accounts throughout your whole environment.
  • Standard AMI configuration changed from a one-hour manual operation to an unobtrusive and seamless background process.
  • Setup time for application stacks has decreased from 1–2 hours to around 10 minutes per stack.

“Ansible Tower has allowed us to provide better operations and security to our clients. It has also increased our efficiency as a team.” ,NASA

Ally

Ally Financial is a digital financial services business that offers online banking, auto finance and insurance, home loans, investment, and corporate finance to its customers. To stay up with an ever-changing market, the organization needed more reliable and predictable deployments. Ally collaborated with Red Hat to build a containerized hybrid cloud platform to facilitate cloud-native application development, and it implemented DevOps practices to boost collaboration, innovation, and efficiency.

CHALLENGE: Make deployments faster and more reliable

The fast-paced financial services business necessitates speed and efficiency. Ally needed to modernize its IT capabilities in order to provide releases much more quickly and reliably.

SOLUTION: Build a containerized hybrid cloud platform

To figure out how to transition from traditional infrastructure to containerized development, Ally teamed up with Red Hat® Consulting. They collaborated to create a containerized hybrid cloud platform for the creation of cloud-native applications. Ally also implemented DevOps practises in order to improve collaboration and accelerate innovation. The platform and processes are being actively embraced across all key lines of business, and most business-critical apps, such as online banking, analytics, and vehicle resale, are being onboarded to the platform.

BUSINESS OUTCOME: Gain speed, agility, and efficiency

Ally’s new platform and processes have shortened time to market, boosted agility, and bolstered its competitive position. The time it takes to complete go-live vetting has been cut in half, and teams are better positioned to respond to problems as they arise. End-to-end automation has also allowed developers to innovate while also introducing time-saving self-service capabilities.

That’s all from my side. Thanks for reading:)

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Learner, Tech Enthusiast