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Red Hat Ansible: don’t be a (fragmented external container) tool

Red Hat bought IT automation-centric configuration management DevOps-friendly firm Ansible, okay… so we know that part. Retaining the Ansible brand and names as it does, this month sees Red Hat launch Ansible Container, but what is it?

Offered as a technology preview at this stage, Ansible Container works to create Docker-formatted Linux containers within Ansible Playbooks. These so-called playbooks are Ansible’s configuration, deployment and orchestration language. They can describe a policy that a developer wants a remote system to enforce, or a set of steps in a general IT process.

Playbooks are designed to be human-readable and are developed in a basic text language.

Fragmented container tooling

According to Greg DeKoenigsberg in his capacity as director for the Ansible community, while standardisation is emerging for container formats in the form of the Open Container Initiative, Red Hat warns that the tooling space is still fragmented, with developers often forced to work outside of the enterprise workstream to create and deploy containerised applications.

Ansible Container changes this dynamic (so claims Red Hat), by bringing Linux container development into the existing workstream through the easy-to-consume Ansible Playbook, adding cloud-native application development side-by-side with traditional application building.

Container tooling sucks (in places), why can't they all just stack (and play) together nicely? Image Credit: www.snapdeal.com

Container tooling sucks (in places), why can’t they all just stack (and play) together nicely? Image Credit: snapdeal.com

Alongside Ansible Container, the Ansible project has also launched new Kubernetes modules, which allow for the production of Kubernetes templates directly from an Ansible playbook. Combining the two new offerings, IT teams can now build Linux containers directly from a playbook and deploy to a Kubernetes-based container application platform, like Red Hat OpenShift, in a more streamlined and efficient manner.

“Ansible enables developers and IT operators to more easily and quickly deploy IT applications and environments, empowering them to remove barriers between IT teams by automating routine activities such as network configuration, cloud deployments, and creation of development environments,” said DeKoenigsberg.

Playing with Ansible Playbooks

Red Hat concludes by saying that with the capabilities of Ansible Container, users will be able to automate their existing infrastructure and networks with Ansible playbooks, while using additional playbooks to containerise their applications and deploy them on a container application platform.

This action (in theory) allows for continuity of operations by preserving existing IT investments and critical applications/systems without sacrificing innovation in the form of cloud-native applications and container orchestration at scale.

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