At the AnsibleFest 2017 conference, Red Hat for the first time is adding the ability to automate network management to its open source IT automation framework in addition to updating Ansible Tower, the version of the Ansible Engine framework that is designed to allow IT organizations to automate IT functions at enterprise scale.
Justin Nemmers, general manager of Ansible, says that Ansible Engine, also known as Ansible Core, can now be employed to automate the management of Arista, Cisco and Juniper networking software as well as instances of Open vSwitch and VyOS.
“This is the first time we’re moving into network automation,” says Nemmers.
That’s critical, says Nemmers, because many IT organizations are finding themselves trying to manage islands of server, storage and networking automation. Ansible is now providing an opportunity to unify the management of IT infrastructure.
In addition, Red Hat announced it is providing a commercial support option for Ansible Engine in addition to Ansible Tower.
New capabilities in Ansible Tower 3.2 include the ability to create an inventory of reusable playbooks, the ability to create custom views of machines based on their attributes, manage various nodes in isolation, create custom credentials, and dedicate capacity for a specific group of users.
In general, Nemmers says, IT automation is starting to be more widely employed because declarative frameworks such as Ansible make it simpler for IT administrators to automate tasks without having to master programming skills.
The degree to which IT organizations have embraced IT automation tends to vary wildly. But as IT infrastructure becomes more complex to manage, the pressure to automate increases. The average IT administrator may not always be comfortable with that idea. But given the long hours required to manually manage IT infrastructure at scale, more than a few IT administrators are now thankful that they at least now have a fighting chance to get home on time.