Tower 2.0: Supercharging the Ansible Experience

August 19, 2014 by Michael DeHaan

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Tower 2.0 is our biggest release so far, and focuses on supercharging the day to day Ansible experience -- creating the best possible environment for a team using Ansible.  It completely revolutionizes the way Ansible playbooks are experienced.  New features in Ansible Tower’s 2.0 release include:

UPDATED LOOK AND FEEL

Tower’s UI has been overhauled to provide a much more minimal stylistic experience. Uses of color have been left minimal to quickly draw one’s eye to areas of the app that need attention.  The result is a UI that matches the soul of ansible - sleek, efficient, and fast.  And shiny.  Don’t forget shiny.

AN ALL NEW HOME-SCREEN DASHBOARD

When you login, you’re presented with a nice graph showing all the recent job activity, quick pointers to lists of hosts with problems, recent jobs, and your current host count. It’s a fantastic place to take account of what’s been going on lately in your infrastructure and to decide if any particular actions need to be taken.  The status graph is tweakable to show certain job types or specific time periods.

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REAL TIME PLAYBOOK OUTPUT AND EXPLORATION

Now in Tower 2.0, playbook runs stream by in real time.  As plays and tasks complete, see progress bars stream by as hosts are contacted and return information, without the user ever having to press reload.  

Various search utilities on this page allow drilling down to just hosts with problems or searching for specific hosts, all providing an ideal “Minority Report” style interface for saying “what’s going on with this playbook run”?  The same view is available to explore previously completed jobs, all from a common unified view.

Colorized output matching what you’d get from a CLI ansible-playbook run is also available.

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REALTIME JOB STATUS

The realtime nature of this page also extends to the job status page where it’s possible to watch a job jump between Queued, Running, and Completed states all without pressing reload.  Background tasks like Source Control and Inventory Synchronization are all also shown  on this common view.  Instantly know what’s going on your Tower server.

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 EXPANDED CLOUD SUPPORT

In addition the built-in support for inventory synchronization with Amazon and Rackspace in previous versions, this release of Ansible tower adds support for VMWare’s vSphere, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.  

Additional providers are manageable from ansible directly of course (and sync’able via the command line) but all of these can easily be set up graphically with a minimum of hassle.  In addition the Amazon inventory support has been upgraded to better categorize the groups and tags it automatically creates, making it even more useful than before.  

As before, Tower manages these clouds with secure credentials - it’s possible to allow a team to use a particular cloud, whether as an inventory source or to deploy to it, without ever letting them know the secret access credentials for that cloud.

INTEGRATED TOWER MONITORING

Tower now configures a minimal munin instance to monitor itself, allowing graphs to show things like memory consumption and CPU usage, as well as the number of queued and active jobs.

While primarily a support tool, it’s a great way to know how things are going, all without having to login to the shell underneath the server, and you’ll have a great way to know how your Tower server is performing over time.

TOWER’S NEW COMMAND LINE TOOL

Previously announced on the blog, ansible-tower-cli is available as a fully supported command line interface for interacting with Tower.    Read more about Tower-cli on our previous blog post.   

EXPANDED OPERATING SYSTEM SUPPORT

In addition to support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, CentOS 6, and Ubuntu 12.04/14.04 LTS, Tower 2.0 adds support for the latest two new enterprise operating systems from Red Hat - Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and CentOS 7.

NEW 30 DAY TRIAL OPTIONS

Tower now supports a 30-day trial offer as soon as you login.  Previously, Tower was free forever if less than 10 nodes were in inventory, and that remains true.  However now, trials of Tower can be requested for extremely large node counts.  If you want to import your full EC2 inventory and start using Ansible against it live from Tower, that’s possible, all without contacting a sales person.

Download Tower Here.
Register to attend our Ansible Tower 2.0 demonstration.
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Topics: Product Announcement, Tower, ansible gui, push-button automation, it automation