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Ansible – Increase efficiency with automation

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RedHat Ansible is one of those things—once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever did without. This enterprise automation platform is used to automate tasks that would otherwise be done by IT administrators. It lets you do more in less time, while reducing the risk of errors and increasing your system security.

So if your company has many devices, overstretched IT staff and an interest in keeping its systems protected, keep reading. We’ll take a detailed look at what Ansible is all about.

What can Ansible do for you?

Ansible is an automation tool that reduces the need for IT administrators to do repetitive tasks. Concretely, this means that your IT administrators will only have to solve a problem and write instructions once. These instructions can then be placed in an Ansible Playbook and deployed across your infrastructure. The Playbooks can be used to deploy security fixes, new applications, manage system configuration, apply patches and automate program updates across all the devices and servers in your network.

Eliminating repetition is good for time management, worker satisfaction and—importantly—reducing the risk of human errors or inconsistencies. Reduced human-machine interaction also means the job gets done faster. In a world where IT professionals are already spread too thin, this is an obvious benefit.

How does it work?

You start by downloading the Ansible Tower and Engine onto a single device, which is your control node. You then create an “inventory,” either manually or by dynamic discovery. You can then use the tool to write a set of instructions, in YAML format (known in the industry as a playbook) that the platform will then “push” from your control node to your other devices, so that the task can be executed automatically. That’s it, the job is complete—whether it’s the installation of new software, system updates, a system configuration change or the management of system features.

If it sounds incredibly simple, that’s because it is. In fact, Red Hat goes as far as calling their product “radically simple” and we have to agree. It’s remarkable because, unlike other automation products, Ansible doesn’t require you to download and install a “software agent” on ANY of your endpoint devices. That’s one less layer of work and one less opportunity for something to go wrong in your process.
Another factor that makes Ansible so easy to use is that it uses YAML, a widely known programming and scripting language. Since your administrators will be familiar with the commands, they’ll have a very minimal learning curve and can get Ansible working for you quickly. 

Here’s a more detailed look at the technical aspects of how Ansible works.

Why do we recommend Ansible?

Anisble was made to lighten the burden on IT teams and, as such, it’s extremely user-friendly. It’s also versatile and powerful in that it’s able to execute a wide range of tasks—from app deployment to configuration management, workflow orchestration and security updates and more—on almost any type of endpoint device, which is another differentiator with other products on the market.

IT security and business continuity are two major concerns for most of our clients. Ansible can help with both. Not only does Ansible allow you to automate security fixes and easily set up automated templates for security rules, it also lets you create playbooks in a test environment so that you can iron out any issues prior to deployment. What’s more, the product ensures near-zero downtime, even on non-IBM Z systems, so that your staff, suppliers and customers are minimally affected when your systems are being updated.

What if your company is happy using your current management toolset?

Many management tools are genuinely useful and businesses want to continue using them. If that’s the case for you, rest assured that RedHat Ansible won’t get in the way of any existing automation processes you’ve already set up. But it could still be used to complement and enhance current tools and create actionable processes to reduce the amount of unnecessary human intervention in your IT operations and maintenance.

What if your team needs help with Ansible?

Even though Ansible is known for being uniquely easy to use, many businesses still want some support to help them make the most of this powerful tool. Our team can get you started and make sure you’re maximizing Ansible’s potential. In many cases, a little help can go a long way.

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