It's likely you currently manage your systems with a collection of scripts and ad-hoc practices curated by a talented team of administrators. Or perhaps you're using an automation framework that requires a bit too much of your time to maintain. Virtualization and cloud technology have increased the complexity and the number of systems to manage is only growing.
You need a consistent, reliable, and secure way to manage the environment - but many solutions have gone way too far the other direction, actually adding complexity to an already complicated problem. You need a system that builds on existing concepts you already understand and doesn’t require a large team of developers to maintain.
Ansible is the simplest solution for configuration management available. It's designed to be minimal in nature, consistent, secure, and highly reliable, with an extremely low learning curve for administrators, developers, and IT managers.
Ansible configurations are simple data descriptions of your infrastructure (both human-readable and machine-parsable) - ensuring everyone on your team will be able to understand the meaning of each configuration task. New team members will be able to quickly dive in and make an impact. Existing team members can get work done faster -- freeing up cycles to attend to more critical and strategic work instead of configuration management.
Ansible requires nothing more than a password or SSH key in order to start managing systems and can start managing them without installing any agent software, avoiding the problem of "managing the management" common in many automation systems. There's no more wondering why configuration management daemons are down, when to upgrade management agents, or when to patch security vulnerabilities in those agents.
Ansible features an state-driven resource model that describes the desired state of computer systems and services, not the paths to get them to this state. No matter what state a system is in, Ansible understands how to transform it to the desired state (and also supports a "dry run" mode to preview needed changes). This allows reliable and repeatable IT infrastructure configuration, avoiding the potential failures from scripting and script-based solutions that describe explicit and often irreversible actions rather than the end goal.
Ansible relies on the most secure remote configuration management system available as its default transport layer: OpenSSH. OpenSSH is available for a wide variety of platforms, is very lightweight, and when security issues in OpenSSH are discovered, they are patched quickly.
Further, Ansible does not require any remote agents. Ansible delivers all modules to remote systems and executes tasks, as needed, to enact the desired configuration. These modules run with user-supplied credentials, including support for sudo and even Kerberos, and clean up after themselves when complete. Ansible does not require root login privileges, specific SSH keys, or dedicated users and respects the security model of the system under management.
As a result, Ansible has a very low attack surface area and is quite easy to deploy into new environments.
Ansible features over 450 modules in the core distribution, providing a great base to build automation upon. Ansible Galaxy also has over 4,000 community-provided roles that can be used immediately, tailored to your particular environment, or even used as templates for something new.
From services and databases to cloud providers, with Ansible you don't have to start from scratch.
Reading an Ansible playbook is easy. This is really important because it becomes self-documenting. Knowing Ansible, I can go into an organization, read their playbooks, and understand more or less how things work.
Matt Coddington, Systems Architect
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