Like most DevOps programs, Red Hat's Ansible doesn't require your IT staff to be coding wizards. It's meant to make server and cloud deployment and configuration easy. Specifically, Ansible enables you to:
- Deploy and manage applications across private and public clouds.
- Speed service delivery through DevOps initiatives.
- Streamline cloud installations and upgrades.
- Speed up container adoption by simplifying orchestration and configuration.
So far, it's like the usual DevOps tools, such as market-leaders Chef and Puppet. This new edition, Ansible 2.3, takes a bit of a different path by focusing on advanced networking capabilities. This includes:
- Persistent connections framework
- The network_cli connection plugin
- The netconf connection plugin
The first new feature allows a single SSH connection to stay active across multiple Ansible tasks. This reduces their total time for completion.
The two plugins enhance networking infrastructure integration. They are natively integrated into Ansible core. This enables Ansible Playbook -- Ansible's native language -- developers to enjoy a more seamless approach to automating network devices. By moving to a plugin approach for network devices connectivity, tasks and modules can take advantage of new plugins while using the local connection plugin. In other words, network connectivity is now handled across compute and network devices in a uniform fashion.
Ansible 2.3 also includes new networking platform support or modules from Apstra, Arista Networks, Avi Networks, Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, Fortinet, Huawei, Lenovo, Ordnance, and Palo Alto Networks. The number of supported networking platforms has grown to 29 and the total networking module count is now 267.
Tim Cramer, Ansible's engineering director, added: "Since first introducing networking modules into Ansible, we have aimed to help users better orchestrate entire application infrastructures, including network devices, with one automation tool. With Ansible 2.3 ... we have expanded from networking enablement to a focus on increasing performance and providing better support for network environments, making Ansible a key component of networking deployments in production."
The program also boasts broader support for Microsoft Windows. The net effect is to make automating Windows with Ansible easier.
Want to see if it works for you? Ansible 2.3 is now available in its GitHub stable branch.