Ansible and its Use Cases
Hello Geeks. I guess your curiosity about Ansible and Automation and has bought you here. So, let's get started with some interesting facts on what Ansible is, automation, and its use cases.
What is Ansible?
Nowadays, many big companies on the market carry out lots and lots of processing, deployment, configuration within their system and infrastructure. The requirement and the configuration need to be changed continuously. Now, this change manually is a very lengthy process. It might take a lot of human resources, time and that delay are not accepted by the clients. As a solution, we have “Automation.”
Automation is a process or application created to minimize configuration deployment efforts and any changes required in the system. It helps to save time, resources, human resources, and it is reliable, efficient, and fast that manual process. Various automation tools like Jenkins, Nagios, Docker, Kubernetes, etc., are available in the industry. Each tool has its own feature, and each can be used in their field.
Ansible is one of the many available tools which is used for automation. It is one of the projects sponsored by RedHat. Ansible is a platform to built and operate the automation required for the organization. Using Ansible, we can create one script that can be used to configure and version control of any application or process. Ansible is mainly used in configuration management, where we have to configure hundreds and thousands of systems with similar configurations.
Here comes the question of why we have to use Ansible and what benefits we can get out of it? So let me tell you Ansible has been used by big multinational companies like NASA, Nokia, RedHat, Cisco, EA Sport, Twitter, GoPro, and many more.
Let's first talk about the problems we were facing before Ansible. We used to have fewer data and fewer clients that were easy to handle, but a sudden rise in users made the companies build more systems. The systems need to be configured with the same setting, and a lot of human resources were required. It was a lot time-consuming, and IT companies have to spend their most time configuring rather than promoting their business for better reach. The company has to hire many manual personals to handle all the configuration in those many machines. The machine/servers use to go down or break, and they have to fix it manually.
The solution to all this problem is Ansible. Ansible helps to manage all the configuration and deployment of the software/programs. We need to create some script and then run it once, and all the allocated/connected system will be configured. We can even define the different configuration for a different group of machines. Regardless of where you start with Ansible, you’ll find out simple, powerful, and agentless automation platform system that has capabilities to solve our most challenging problems.
How Ansible Works
Let's discuss some of the terminology used in Ansible and their functionality and working.
- Controller Node: This is the main system in the cluster where Ansible is installed, and all the code is run from this system, and information about the managed nodes are stored there.
- Target Nodes/Host: These are the system in which we have to configure the software or deployment is done. All the system are connected within the network with the controller node, and they are configured as per the controller node runs the code.
- Inventory: This is a file where all the target nodes' information like IP address, Login Credentials are stored. We can even create a host group where we can group the systems.
- Playbook: This is the file where all the code is being written, and the code is in YAML format, and for each host group, we can code the configuration command.
- Facts: These are the global variable that contains the information they can be user-defined and pre-built.
- Play: A code or command executed from start to finish is called a play. In simple words, the execution of a playbook is called a play. We can create as many plays as we want in a single playbook.
We first have to configure one system as a Controller Node. To configure it, we have to install ansible software in it. We have to create a text file called inventory, which contains the host's details like (IP and credentials), connected with the Controller Node. Then the inventory file location is allocated to the configuration file of ansible.
Then we have to write the code in a playbook for the configuration. Ansible have modules made to perform various configuration tasks. We have to state the module with its arguments. We can also use a single line command for one specific task only.
When we run the playbook through SSH over the network Ansible configure the defined play as per the host allocated to all the systems.
Why and How MNC’s are using Ansible?
Now let's understand how big multinational companies are using Ansible and what benefits they are getting.
NASA is the biggest space research agency in the US. It has been servicing its purpose since 1958. NASA recently moved its traditional hardware base infrastructure to a cloud environment. They had to move 60+ applications to Cloud, and it was hard to manage multiple VPCs and AWS management.
As a solution, NASA used the Ansible tower. They were able to provide better service and security to their clients. The operation, which used to take 1 hour, was completed in 5 minutes. Packages that need to be updated used to take multiple days, and now, with Ansible, they were able to do it in some hours. Many manual AMI configurations were seamless going on in the background.
Microsoft has been a well-renowned company since 1975. Microsoft has been developing software, infrastructure, operating system, cloud services, and much more technology. Some years before Azure(Cloud Computing Platform) was launched by Microsoft, and their mission was to run it smoothly and grow it. As the user was increasing in Azure, they want it to perform smoothly.
Microsoft partnered with RedHat Ansible to help both works together for the improvement of Azure and Ansible. Microsoft started to use Ansible to develop codes and playbooks to automate all the small scale. They started to automate production also. They focused on the DevOps parts of Azure and automated three areas with Ansible.
HootSuite is a social media management system. Its task is to support the management of the interaction of different social media platforms. It helps the user make his content more, create the posts' schedule, and many more. HootSuite infrastructure was not scripted, repeatable, or immutable, and they were rebuilding their server by relying on limited documentation and mostly memory. So automation was needed for the infrastructure and deployment.
Now Hootsuite is using Ansible core to tackle their problems. All the services running on HootSuite has been using ansible from the scratch level. They have been using Ansible for infrastructure management and handling their services and are planning to use it on the deployment level.
We can conclude that Ansible has been very popular in a short period of time. Many companies have been using it and are satisfied with the power of Ansible for automation. Ansible has been one of the important parts of the DevOps cycle. We can create and explore more areas of development with the help of Ansible.
Thank You for your time. Have a Good Day.