Automation using Ansible & Ansible Tower
In the journey as the ARTH Learner in the program “ARTH -2020” under the guidance of ‘The World Record Holder Mr. Vimal Daga Sir’, I got to explore more and in this series of learning, I attended live practical session on Ansible Industry use cases delivered by none other than Mr. Sreejith Anujan Sir, Principal Instructor RedHat and Mr. Arun Eapen , Director — APAC Service Delivery, GLS RedHat Asia Pacific.
The session was really amazing, got to know about multiple industry use cases on ‘Automation using Ansible Tower’ from the top leaders of RedHat, I have generated so many new ideas while learning these use cases which I will use in my further projects.
What is Automation ?
✔ Automation is the creation and application of technologies to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention. So, with little or less human intervention the whole process of software development and deployment becomes faster.
✔ The implementation of automation technologies, techniques and processes improve the efficiency, reliability and speed of many tasks that were previously performed by humans.
✔ Automation is being used in a number of areas such as manufacturing, transport, utilities, defense, facilities, operations and information technology. Automation can be applied at various levels: Provisioning, Configuration Management, CI/CD, Orchestration, Security, etc.
✔ Ansible is an open-source automation tool, used for IT tasks such as configuration management, application deployment, intraservice orchestration, and provisioning. Automation is crucial these days, with IT environments that are too complex and often need to scale too quickly for system administrators and developers to keep up if they had to do everything manually.
✔ Ansible is currently one of the most popular IT automation software on the market that makes it easy to set up, configure and deploy your servers and IT systems.
✔ One of the major gripes from Ansible users is that it didn’t have a proper GUI. And that’s putting it mildly — the GUI was so bad that in the early days it wasn’t even properly synced to the CLI, meaning that the CLI and GUI could give you 2 different query results about the state of a certain node. This was an especially critical issue because good UI is important for occasional and new users to get comfortable and familiar with an application, before diving into the complexities of the CLI and playbook creation.
✔ Ansible Tower, previously called the AWX project, is the fix to this problem. It is a comprehensive web-based UI for Ansible, containing the most important Ansible features, especially those that render better as graphical rather than text-based output, such as real-time node monitoring.
Features of Ansible Tower
Some of the important features of Ansible Tower are listed below. The full feature list is available off the Ansible website.
👉🏻Role-based access control: you can set up teams and users in various roles.
👉🏻Job scheduling: schedule your jobs and set repetition options
👉🏻Portal mode: this is a simplified view of automation jobs for newbies and less experienced Ansible users. This is an excellent feature as it truly lowers the entry barriers to starting to use Ansible.
👉🏻Fully documented REST API: allows you to integrate Asible into your existing toolset and environment
👉🏻Tower Dashboard: use this to quickly view a summary of your entire environment. Simplifies things for sysadmins while sipping their coffee.
👉🏻Cloud integration: Tower is compatible with the major cloud environments: Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Azure.
👉🏻Job template: this in ansible tower is the same as ansible-playbook. In the template, we give multiple parameters, passwords, credentials, etc, ansible tower also provides visual stats for the status of jobs it runs.
What are the main features of Ansible vs. Ansible Tower?
✔ Both Ansible and Ansible Tower offer enterprises a wealth of resources for configuration management, but they aren’t equals. Assess their differences in crucial aspects such as security.
✔ While Ansible can be a powerful configuration management tool, it can feel a bit intimidating to IT admins who aren’t intimate with command-line tools. Ansible Tower aims to address this concern with a graphical user interface, and also extends Ansible functionality with additional management capabilities.
✔ IT teams can perform a wide range of configuration management tasks with the Ansible command-line. The tool eliminates the need for ad-hoc scripts and manual infrastructure management, and offers instead a way for admins to apply configurations in an automated and repeatable way. It’s Tower, however, that provides greater ease of use and centralized administrative control.
Security and centralization
✔ In a comparison of Ansible vs. Ansible Tower, the latter provides features that are essential in large-scale enterprise IT deployments. This includes extensive role-based access control settings that ensure individual users, and groups of users, have proper and secure access to the Ansible environment. This enhances security and provides an audit trail.
✔ In addition, Tower acts as a centralized platform to run Ansible playbooks, perform logging and manage the inventory of hosts in an environment. The Ansible Tower dashboard also provides a single view into deployment health and status, including current Ansible job execution details.
In short, Ansible Tower is a remarkably useful add-on to Ansible, able to do much of what can be done on the CLI. It will complement, not replace, the main application by automating and presenting some of the main tasks graphically — especially the monitoring-dashboard types of tasks. As a major bonus, it also greatly helps to reduce the intimidation factor for those new to Ansible by presenting a much easier to understand visual tool.
Now, that was a whole lot to cover but if you read it, Kudos!
Stay tuned for further readings on Ansible and some more case study on Ansible, that will be more insightful same as this article and it will have an overview of these services and helps you to understand the power of automation technology.
Stay Safe! Keep Learning!
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