What Is Ansible and How Do You Use It?

IT professionals have to manage systems across multiple platforms, which is an effort- and time-intensive task when done manually. Thankfully, there are automation tools like Ansible that make such tasks easier.

This post will cover what Ansible is, how it works, and how you can learn to use the platform.

What Is Ansible?

Ansible is an open-source automation tool used by IT professionals to automate the deployment, configuration, and management of systems across different platforms. It allows IT teams to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up their time to work on more critical issues. 

Ansible uses a simple syntax called YAML to define its automation tasks, making it easy for non-developers to use. It also offers a wide range of modules that can be used to automate tasks for various systems, such as Linux and Windows, as well as cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

It works great with your existing tools and doesn’t require any added servers, daemons, or databases to operate. Ansible doesn’t have any additional security infrastructure, making it easy to deploy.

How is Ansible Used?

You can use Ansible to automate almost any server configuration consistently and reliably. These repetitive and recurring tasks may include:

  • Configuration management
  • Cloud provisioning
  • Application deployment
  • Intra-service orchestration
  • Software Installation
  • Security and compliance improvement
  • Sharing automation across entire organizations
  • Other tasks performed on a daily or weekly basis

By automating these tasks, systems administrators can save time and reduce errors, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks and scale their IT infrastructure.

How Does Ansible Work?

Ansible works by connecting to remote nodes and executing tasks on them using SSH protocol. It uses a push-based model, meaning the control machine pushes the configuration to the managed nodes. 

Ansible uses a simple YAML syntax to define the tasks to be executed on the remote nodes. These tasks are grouped together into a playbook, which is a collection of tasks that are executed in a specific order. Playbooks can be used to manage a single node or multiple nodes at once. 

To learn more about playbooks, check out this blog: What is Ansible Playbook and How to Write it?

Ansible also has a concept called inventory, which is a list of hosts or nodes that Ansible can manage. The inventory can be defined in a simple text file or using dynamic inventory scripts that can pull the inventory from various sources like AWS, GCP, or OpenStack.

Unlike other management systems, Ansible uses multi-tier deployments. In other words, it describes how all of your systems inter-relate instead of managing one system at a time.

What Is Ansible Tower?

Ansible Tower is the framework for controlling, securing, managing, and extending your Ansible automation. It’s a web-based hub that makes it easy for IT teams to maintain automation tasks.

Tower lets you delegate automation and control permissions to users within your organization. It also helps standardize how automation is deployed and managed. Tower can also help you manage inventory, track changes, and sync with cloud sources.

While Tower was the standard framework for some time, it’s been replaced by the automation controller in Ansible Automation Platform 2, which you can access directly from Ansible’s website.

Ansible Resources

Thankfully, Ansible uses a simple language called YAML, making learning easy. YAML is a human-readable data-serialization language.

Here are some resources to get you started with Ansible:

Also, check out these KodeKloud courses:

Want a quick Ansible guide? Check out this video.