Red Hat Extends IT Automation Reach

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    Using a more declarative approach to IT automation that doesn’t require IT operations staff to learn how to program has the obvious benefit of being simpler for more IT organizations to embrace. Now Red Hat is extending the reach of that approach with the release today of an update to the agentless Ansible open source framework that reaches deeper into the realms of networking, containers and the cloud.

    Tim Cramer, engineering director for Ansible for Red Hat, says version 2.2 of Ansible will support Cisco (ASA), Dell, F5 Networks, Nokia SR-OS, Pluribus Networks (Open Netvisor) and VyOS devices. In addition, Ansible 2.2 provides expanded support for Cisco NX-OS configured with Virtual Extensible LAN (VxLAN) software. In total, Cramer says, Ansible now supports 17 different platforms.

    “One of the things that differentiates Ansible is that our agentless approach makes it possible to support legacy networking equipment that doesn’t run a modern operating system,” says Cramer.

    Couple that with extended support for cloud services and container technologies such as Docker, Cramer says, and Ansible provides a unique way for IT organizations to apply the same IT automation framework across both cloud-native and legacy IT environments.

    In the case of cloud native applications, Ansible 2.2 specifically adds support for new VMware virtual machine management modules as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) services such as Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), Amazon Redshift and AWS Lambda. Other enhancements that can be applied to AWS, Google Cloud Platform and OpenStack include support for Ansible Roles, a reusable playbook framework for running automations.

    Meanwhile, to enhance Docker containers support, with this release Red Hat is also extending its control over those containers to the network level. Red Hat has a concerted effort underway to significantly reduce the need to rely on container management tools from Docker, Inc.

    Finally, Cramer says, Ansible 2.2 also improves module parity between the Windows and Linux versions of Ansible, which Cramer says remains an ongoing work in progress.

    As more IT organizations become comfortable with relying more on automation to manage IT at scale, the issue they will need to contend with is to what degree they will want to standardize on a common framework. Red Hat is clearly making a case for a single framework that spans all forms of IT infrastructure wherever it resides. Of course, there is also now some form of IT automation framework available from just about every vendor that provides modern IT infrastructure. Getting all those frameworks to play nicely with one another represents a major endeavor that many IT organizations may not have the wherewithal, or even desire, to accomplish.


    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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