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What is Ansible?

As the number of technologies gets increasing, there is also a high demand to cope up with them. Many companies are driven with the DevOps culture and many are in transition. With the introduction of DevOps it makes easier for any organization to focus on each and every aspect from Planning to Building to Release to Deployment, which is otherwise stringent.

We are creating a series Ansible with Windows which is a series of blogs giving you an understanding of Ansible, how to install it on Windows and how to connect windows host. In this introductory blog we are discussing on one such tool in the DevOps kitty which is Open Source and helps you manage your applications, packages or software. Ansible is a powerful automation and configuration management tool which helps you to download required packages, configure your applications and deploy them on any machine without any human intervention, except that it requires a human to give it a go.

Ansible helps you to automate Infrastructure, Applications, Security, Networks, Cloud and Containers. It is a very simple tool which uses PUSH methodology to push changes/tasks to the connected nodes (host machines). These tasks are basically the ansible modules which run on the client end, make the required changes and then remove themselves over the network.

Why to use Ansible, because it uses easy to write, learn and understand YAML language for configuration management, in comparison to its competitors like Puppet or Chef which uses a PULL methodology, which requires additional client installed on the host machines before we can start any automation and also uses Ruby which is slightly difficult to learn.

Let’s look at high-level Ansible Architecture.
Ansible Architecture
In this architecture, we have an Ansible Engine installed on Linux machine, we have created a playbook to run some tasks on host machines which are defined in the inventory (hosts) file and uses SSH (for Linux host machines) or WinRM (for Windows host machines) to execute tasks (modules) inside a Playbook on host machines.

Key Ansible Components:

1. Ansible Engine: It is responsible for running the tasks (modules) defined in Playbooks over the network using SSH or WinRM on the target host nodes.

2. Playbooks: These are files written in YAML language, which is easy to learn and understand. In a playbook we define which nodes to target and what are the tasks we need to perform on the host node. Each task is basically a module defining what to do, and each task is also known as Play inside a Playbook.

3. Inventory: This is a file which contains information of the host nodes to target, along with some additional connection information. It is also called the hosts file, where we define the host machines.

4. Host Nodes: The target machines defined in the Inventory file.

5. Roles: These are set of tasks grouped for a specific configuration or deployment. For example, you have a playbook which is installing Java and MS SQL Server on host nodes with hard coded values, so you create separate roles for Java and MS SQL Server along with replacing the hard-coded values with variables.

6. Collections: Collections are like parent to roles. A single collection can include multiple roles. For example,  we have a collection named mssql, so we can have different roles like install (which only installs SQL Server), install_ssms, install_analysis, install_reporting, install_integration, start, stop, uninstall, uninstall_analysis etc. So, in this manner we can have separate roles inside a collection.

I hope this introductory blog on Ansible helps you to get around the key aspects of Ansible like what is Ansible, where do we use it, why do we use it, and why it is preferred over other available tools for automation and configuration management. In the coming blogs we will come up on how to install Ansible on Windows, so stay tuned and happy learning!

About Amlgo Labs : Amlgo Labs is an advanced data analytics and decision sciences company based out in Gurgaon and Bangalore, India. We help our clients in different areas of data solutions includes design/development of end to end solutions (Cloud, Big Data, UI/UX, Data Engineering, Advanced Analytics and Data Sciences) with a focus on improving businesses and providing insights to make intelligent data-driven decisions across verticals. We have another vertical of business that we call - Financial Regulatory Reporting for (MASAPRAHKMAEBAFEDRBI etc) all major regulators in the world and our team is specialized in commonly used regulatory tools across the globe (AxiomSL Controller ViewOneSumX DevelopmentMoody’s RiskIBM Open Pages etc).We build innovative concepts and then solutions to give an extra edge to the business outcomes and help to visualize and execute effective decision strategies. We are among top 10 Data Analytics Start-ups in India, 2019 and 2020.

Please feel free to comment or share your views and thoughts. You can always reach out to us by sending an email at info@amlgolabs.com or filling a contact form at the end of the page.

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