WavebreakMediaMicro - Fotolia

Red Hat Ansible uses grow as integration options expand

Ansible is a valuable configuration management tool for many IT shops that use Red Hat products. But there's still room for deeper Red Hat-Ansible integration down the line.

Ansible, a configuration management tool, has gained popularity over the last few years because it is relatively easy to set up and configure. And while Red Hat has incorporated Ansible across its product portfolio, integration with some Red Hat products is more complete than with others.

Before Red Hat's purchase of Ansible in October 2015, Red Hat didn't have a clear preference for any configuration management tool, even though Puppet was used in Red Hat Satellite and the Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Now, Red Hat Ansible -- which has playbooks written in YAML and can use modules written in Ruby for extended functionality -- plays various roles across the Red Hat portfolio.

Red Hat Ansible's role in Ceph, OpenStack

For example, Ansible is well-integrated into Red Hat Enterprise Ceph Storage. In previous versions, users needed to go through a cumbersome configuration procedure to set up Ceph object storage. The latest release of Ceph, however, uses Ansible playbooks for easier installation. With a ready-to-run playbook, administrators only need to enter some variables to tell the installation procedure how to integrate with the current IT environment.

The adoption of Red Hat Ansible for OpenStack continues to grow, which suggests the configuration management tool could become OpenStack's future deployment standard.

The adoption of Red Hat Ansible for OpenStack continues to grow, which suggests the configuration management tool could become OpenStack's future deployment standard. This is good news, since currently every OpenStack distribution seems to have its own deployment mechanism -- including the Red Hat OpenStack Platform, which is deployed through the Director utility. Expect this to change soon, as OpenStack and Ansible become more widely adopted.

What's next for Red Hat Ansible integration?

In other Red Hat products, Ansible integration is not so obvious.

Admins can use Ansible to manage the configuration of any Red Hat product, but that doesn't mean it's the de facto management layer for all Red Hat environments. For instance, organizations can use Ansible or its enterprise-level version, Ansible Tower, to build configurations and easily distribute those to different products. But these configurations are not a native part of the products themselves, and likely won't be anytime soon. In the Red Hat product portfolio, deployment has always held its own category.

When the Ansible purchase was finalized, Red Hat launched a new release of Satellite, the enterprise management, monitoring, deployment and provisioning tool that handles patches and configurations. Puppet, a competitor to Ansible, was widely integrated with Satellite, so after the purchase, the future direction of Satellite 6 was unclear. However, since Ansible is a different product in Red Hat's portfolio, the purchase did not have immediate consequences for Satellite development.

Two years after the purchase, Ansible is more common in Red Hat environments, although it hasn't become the integrated management standard for Red Hat products. It won't make sense for all companies to upscale their environments just to have Ansible management, but there are still many uses for Ansible in the Red Hat portfolio.

For instance, you can use Red Hat Ansible to deploy Satellite agents to servers, or to deploy and manage  JBoss applications. You can use Ansible to manage Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers or to orchestrate complex environments. You can also deploy applications with Ansible into OpenShift.

For every Red Hat product, there is a potential use for Ansible, but the tool isn't yet fully integrated. Either way, organizations should always choose the configuration management tool that best fits their needs.

Next Steps

Simplicity the key with Red Hat Ansible

Will eventual RHEL 8 release feature Ansible support?

Ansible featured in RHEL's first HCI release

Dig Deeper on Data center server infrastructure and OSes