Author: Pulkit Bindal
Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can deliver software, set up systems, and handle more complex IT processes like rolling upgrades with no downtime or continuous deployments. It is an open-source tool and can operate on Unix-like systems and Microsoft Windows.
In this blog, we will see what is Ansible, its key components, why we need Ansible, and it’s working with real-time examples.
What is Ansible?
Ansible is an open-source automation tool for managing configurations, deploying applications, and automating tasks. By utilizing pre-established playbooks, it enables users to remotely control and configure servers. For instance, businesses can use Ansible to automatically install and configure software on numerous servers, maintaining uniformity and minimizing human error.
Michael DeHaan developed Ansible, which Red Hat acquired in 2015. It has its own declarative language to define system setups, and it connects remotely via SSH or Windows Remote Management to carry out operations.
With Ansible, a push-based IaC, you may declaratively declare the required architecture using a user-friendly domain-specific language. Ansible is push-based, which means that it uses SSH to communicate with the computers to which the configuration is being deployed.
To gain a better grasp of fundamental infrastructure, please take a look at the graphic below.
What are the key components of Ansible?
Here are the key components of Ansible with explanations in layman’s terms:
- Inventory: The servers or hosts that Ansible will control are listed here. A straightforward YAML file or an INI file with the hosts’ IP addresses can serve as the syntax.
- Playbook: A playbook is a collection of YAML-formatted instructions that instructs Ansible what operations to carry out on the inventory hosts.
- Task: A task is a specific action that Ansible performs, such as installing a package, starting a service, or copying a file.
- Module: A module is a small piece of code that performs a specific task, such as installing a package or creating a user account.
- Ad-hoc commands: These are one-off commands that you can run on the command line without creating a playbook. For example, you might use an ad-hoc command to check or verify the disk space on a server.
- Roles: A role is a collection of tasks and files that can be reused across multiple playbooks. It’s a way to organize your code and make it more modular.
- Variables: Variables are values that can be used in your playbooks to make them more dynamic. For example, you might use a variable to specify the version of a package you want to install.
- Templates: Templates are files that contain placeholders for variables. When Ansible runs a playbook, it replaces these placeholders with the actual values of the variables. This makes it easy to generate configuration files or other types of files that need to be customized for each host.
- Facts: Facts are pieces of information that Ansible gathers about the target hosts, such as the operating system, IP address, or available memory. These facts can be used in playbooks or ad-hoc commands to make them more dynamic.
- Handlers: Handlers are tasks that are triggered by specific events, such as when a service is restarted or when a file is changed. Handlers are defined in a playbook and can be used to ensure that certain actions are taken only when necessary. For example, you might use a handler to restart a web server after a configuration file has been updated.
Why do we need Ansible?
The two fundamental objectives of Ansible are simplicity and usability. Additionally, it places a high priority on security and dependability, using OpenSSH for transport (with other transports and pull modes as alternatives), and a language that was created with human audibility in mind, including software unfamiliarity.
Simply put, it enables consistent and effective management of the configuration and deployment of software and services.
For example, let’s say you have a group of servers that all need to have the same software installed and configured in the same way. Without Ansible, you would need to manually log into each server and perform the same tasks repeatedly, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
Ansible allows you to create “playbooks” of instructions that can automate these processes and run them simultaneously on all of the servers. By doing this, you can save time, lower the possibility of human error, and guarantee that every server is set up uniformly.
We design for busy users of all types, including developers, sysadmins, release engineers, IT managers, and everyone in between, since we believe simplicity is applicable to environments of all sizes. From modest setups with a few instances to large environments with thousands of instances, Ansible is suitable for managing all environments. Red Hat hosts AnsibleFest, a yearly gathering for all Ansible authors, users, and clients, where you can find out more.
The best location to make new friends, get new skills, and automate with them is at AnsibleFest.
Machines are managed via Ansible without the use of agents. The issue of not being able to administer systems because daemons are uninstalled or how to upgrade remote daemons is never a concern. Ansible leverages OpenSSH, an open-source networking tool for SSH (Secure Shell) remote login, which significantly reduces security vulnerability. About twice a year, Ansible publishes a new major release. The main application develops fairly cautiously, favoring simplicity in setup and language design. Since version 2.10, contributors have developed and modified modules and plugins stored in collections considerably faster.
Ansible generally aids in streamlining and simplifying the administration of large-scale computing infrastructures.
How does Ansible work in real time?
You can instruct your computers on what to do, when to do it, and how to use Ansible. Thousands of servers spread across several data centers may be managed with it.
Consider a business that offers cloud-based software services as an example. They must make sure that all of their numerous servers are appropriately setup and running the most recent software versions. Additionally, they must efficiently and swiftly install new software upgrades to their servers.
The business may create scripts or playbooks using Ansible that specify the ideal condition of its infrastructure. They may specify, for example, that all servers must have the most recent security updates loaded, or that a specific software package must be installed on each server. Then, they can make sure that all of their servers are in the proper state by using Ansible to run these tasks on all of them at once.
Additionally, the organization can use Ansible to fully automate the process of deploying a new software update. They can create a script that outlines the procedures needed to distribute the update, such as halting the active software version, installing the new version, and then resuming the active software version. These actions can then be carried out by Ansible across all of the servers, guaranteeing a speedy and reliable deployment of the update.
In conclusion, Ansible is a strong tool for automating IT infrastructure operations, and it may make it simple for businesses to manage huge and intricate infrastructures. Companies can guarantee that their servers are constantly in the desired state and can deploy new software updates fast and effectively by conceptualizing infrastructure as code.
Congratulations! Without a hitch, we were able to learn everything there is to know about Ansible, including its essential parts like the inventory and playbook YAML files. The future applications of learning Ansible through practice are limitless.
This is only a basic explanation of how the infrastructure works, but if you’d like, you may expand it by adding more modules. Additionally, we can configure a load balancer on top of a large number of servers if we so choose. Every configuration imaginable is possible using Ansible.