Ansible is probably one of the most powerful IT automation tools available today. It’s easy to use yet, gives powerful results. Ansible helps organizations to manage their IT environment and get the best support network. Ansible is basically a tool that is useful for servers and does easy operations. One of the best benefits of using this tool is however that it teaches people to think about the environment they are working in and get the knowledge on how it works. It is one worthy network automation tool that offer several network requirements.
Ansible runs on Linux and Mac OS X systems but is also useful in managing other systems like Windows BSD, cloud service platforms, and other network devices. Here is the list of things that you do not really know about Ansible. These are the eye-openers as to how many maximum benefits one can attain by using Ansible.
1. Ansible is used to manage other things than simply servers – Most of the Ansible usage is to configure and manage the servers. However, not many people know how vast it is and how it can be used for different functions too. Any SSH interface or an API can be managed with Ansible. There are different modules in its library that talks to cloud platforms, F5 load balancers, etc. The modules are helpful for multi-server rolling upgrades that require coordination.
2. Ansible helps to mix on-premise and cloud inventories easily – Ansible consists of cloud inventory sources that have the dynamic process. It helps to retrieve the latest list of servers from Azure, Amazon, Rackspace, etc. Ansible has the built-in mechanism that helps to handle the cloud mixing and static inventories.
3. Ansible helps to write playbooks in JSON – JSON is a subset of YAML, hence one can write playbooks in JSON formats too. Generally, people use YAML as the text file format for Ansible since it’s easily readable by humans and also machines.
4. Ansible is useful for managing the Windows application and software – There is one extra plug-in that used to run Powershell scripts on the Windows, one can use WinRM protocol to run the scripts. There has been growth in the Windows modules library and plug-ins is being made for easy usability.
5. Ansible has vast and growing plug-in infrastructure – Ansible is flexible in use hence it can be extended through several ways. One of the most common ways followed is to write a custom module. There are series of interesting Python plug-in interfaces that one can use to build a good custom behavior. Some of its modules are Dynamic inventory sources, callback plug-in, and custom filter plug-in.
a. Dynamic inventory sources – with the help of a customer CMDB, you can use the source of truth environment. One can write a custom inventory plug that helps to pull the hosts and groups from existing databases.
b. Callback plug-ins – these are very powerful plug-ins. They are especially used to trigger the notifications, for example, posting to the messages on to the chat tools, react in flexible ways, signal the monitoring events and so on.
c. The Custom filter plug-ins help to handle complicated data structures in the playbooks. They allow you to manipulate the data in varied ways and it can help simplify the playbook by offloading small python plug-in.
6. The user has control on the playbook – The use of Ansible requires a lot of technical knowledge. The playbooks in the Ansible always run from the top to the bottom, this is the usual process especially when the playbook is tested and running. But for checking during the development requires skipping certain sections of the playbook.
Ansible is a very flexible tool and it’s an extensible automation tool that can be used in a lot of different environments’. There are several ideas and tools that help you to customize and configure Ansible working to give automation according to your needs.