Configuration management is a growing need for the software industry. It helps in streamlining the applications and software to enhance efficiency and enable quicker operations. When it comes to configuration management, Ansible comes to the mind of most software engineers. On one hand, the demand for an Ansible certification is increasing while on the other hand, many professionals are unaware of what Ansible is and how Ansible works. Before getting to know how it works, it is essential to understand what is Ansible.
What is Ansible?
Ansible refers to an open-source automation platform or tool that is useful for different IT tasks like configuration management, intra-service orchestration, application deployment, and provisioning. Automation is vital for managing complex IT environments and simplifying the complex tasks of the developers. Ansible is a top automation tool that helps in overcoming the challenges of automation and ensures better productivity gains.
The automation engine of Ansible is supported by Red Hat and helps in saving time and enhancing productivity. Ansible offers scalability, reliability, and consistency in the IT infrastructure. With the use of Ansible, the configurations of networks, databases, storage, and firewalls can be easily automated. Ansible best practices help in ensuring the consistency of all the essential software packages for running an application.
Learn the basics of Ansible and use it for application deployment, configuration management, intraservice orchestration, and provisioning.
Benefits of Ansible
Before knowing how Ansible works, knowing about the benefits of Ansible is also essential. One of the main advantages of Ansible is that it is agentless. It does not require any additional software for installing the automation tool on the host or system. Ansible provides flexible and powerful features to manage operating systems, services, networks, and infrastructure. Ansible is also efficient to enable customization as per the needs of the users.
Some of the top benefits of Ansible are:
- Free – Ansible is an open-source tool that is available to the users for free.
- Simple – Most users might worry about how Ansible works. But in reality, the setting up process, as well as the use, is very simple. The use of ansible software requires no exceptional skills in coding.
- Efficient – Ansible is an efficient software. It requires no additional software for installation but offers room for the application resources on the server of the user.
- Powerful – Ansible is a powerful tool that helps the users to model the highly complex workflows of the IT industry efficiently.
- Agentless – The main benefit of using Ansible is that it is agentless. Without the use of any additional software, the clients can easily automate their systems.
- Flexible – Irrespective of where the software is deployed, it allows the users to orchestrate the whole environment of the application.
- Extensible – Depending on the networking and automation needs of the users, Ansible can easily offer extensions.
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Uses of Ansible
Ansible has a long list of potential methods and applications. The top uses of Ansible are:
Orchestration includes combing many different elements into a whole excellent operation. Ansible helps in making the orchestration task easier. With the use of provisioning and automated workflows, it makes orchestration simple. Once the user defines the infrastructure with the use of Ansible playbooks, the user can make use of the same orchestration anywhere required.
2. Application Deployment
Application deployment is another important use of the ansible platform. It allows users to deploy multi-tier apps easily and quickly. There is no need for any custom code for automating the systems of the users. Only by listing the tasks and writing the playbooks, the automation can be done. With Ansible, there is no requirement of manual configuration.
3. Cloud Provisioning
Automating the life cycle of the user’s application requires automating the provisioning of the infrastructure. Ansible allows the users to provision virtualized hosts, cloud platforms, servers, and other network devices.
4. Security and Compliance
Ansible can help in ensuring security and compliance. When a user configures the security details on the control machine and runs the associated playbook, the remote hosts automatically update as per those security details. It enables the users to monitor all the machines for security compliance manually continuously. Ansible, however, does not allow retrieving of the user ID and password of the admin in case of additional security needs.
Preparing for Ansible interview? Here’re the top 20 Ansible interview questions with detailed answers to crack the interview!
What are the essential steps to ansible download?
One can easily find about the different ways of ansible download or installation of the automation tool on ansible tutorial as well as on ansible documentation. It is possible to install and run Ansible from any machine.
A control machine of Linux is an essential requirement for the installation of Ansible. Before installing Ansible, it is necessary to establish the prerequisites. Ansible only requires SSH to interact with the remote servers. With a few command lines, the automation tools can be successfully installed within no time.
The Working of Ansible
Knowing what Ansible is, its benefits, and uses, the next big thing to remember is how Ansible works. The process of working of Ansible cannot be broken down into procedures or steps. To understand the functioning of the software, one has to view all the different stages at a time.
Ansible works by connecting the server of the user through the SSH keys and pushing the small programs out. With the use of modules, the playbooks help the ansible clients in performing all the specific tasks. The particular functions can include the service of restarting, installing packages, rebooting servers, and much more. With the use of Ansible, a lot of things can be performed.
The process in which Ansible works include:
1. Setting the Architecture
Architecture is an essential aspect of understanding how Ansible works. The ansible architecture consists of elements like modules, inventories, plugins, playbooks, and APIs. Ansible connects to the nodes and pushes out the ansible modules. Modules refer to the small programs that the Ansible pushes out from the control machine to the remote hosts or nodes.
The written programs act as resource models for the desirable state of a system. With the use of playbooks, the modules get executed and control the files, services, and packages. Ansible uses all the Ansible modules for installing different updates or performing all the required tasks. After the completion of the task, Ansible removes the modules.
Plugins are the extra codes that augment the functionality. All the nodes and control machines used with Ansible are listed under inventories with databases, IP addresses, and servers. Playbooks of the ansible architecture are like the instruction manuals for performing the tasks. They are the simple YAML written files that make ansible more popular. The APIs help in extending the connection types of Ansible, callbacks, and others.
2. SSH Keys
SSH keys are an essential part of how Ansible works. Even though passwords are supported, the SSH keys are one of the best ways of accessing Ansible. Kerberos are also suitable for using Ansible. Any user can quickly login without the requirement of any root logins.
The authorized key to Ansible is an excellent way to use Ansible to control machines and access hosts. The authorization keys help in controlling the access of different modules to different users. The authorization keys come handy for various IT systems.
3. Managing Inventory
Managing inventory is also an essential part of how Ansible works. Ansible represents all the machines that it manages on a simple INI file. It puts all the managed machines into groups according to the choice of the users. To add new machines, there is no requirement for additional SSL signings. It helps in eliminating all the issues relating to DNS or NTP. The elimination of SSL signing removes the hassle of linking a particular machine.
Ansible also offers to plugin to other sources available on the user’s infrastructure. It can easily plugin into groups, inventory, and other sources like OpenStack, EC2, Rackspace, and more. After the listing of the inventory hosts, the variables can be easily assigned to the text files in the inventory file. The use of dynamic inventory can help in pulling out the inventory of the user from data sources like Rackspace, OpenStack, or EC2.
4. Using Ansible
Knowing how Ansible works, then it is the use. On availing the instance, the users can directly start using Ansible without any additional overhead. The users already have access to the running commands as well as the resource modules. It helps in making the use more straightforward. The modules of ansibles are very easy to write, and this makes the task execution even simpler.
5. Ansible Playbooks
Playbooks of ansible help in finely orchestrating the infrastructure topology of the users. The simplicity of automation with Ansible is a feature that makes it more demanding.
Also Read: Top DevOps Tools in 2019
Ansible is one of the simple IT automation tools that helps in automating different software and applications. It is specially designed for the deployment of multi-tier applications and helps in managing different systems at a time. Without any additional agent or security infrastructure, Ansible can be easily deployed and automate all jobs easily. The ansible documentation and ansible tutorial can help in a better understanding of how Ansible works. With a wide variety of modules, Ansible can support much different integration.
Want to learn more about Ansible? Enroll now for Ansible basics training course and learn the basics of Ansible.
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