WHAT IS ANSIBLE ?
Ansible is a simple configuration management tool that automates IT orchestration, app deployment, or cloud provisioning, etc. It promotes deployment because it does not use any complex security infrastructure or agents.
In Ansible, playbooks are used to describe the automation tasks in a very simple programming language i.e. YAML. Ansible was p
rogrammed for multi-tier deployment that could manage multiple inter-related systems together.
Use Cases for Modernizing and Automating Workflows
- Weekly system reboot: There’s nothing worse than doing the same thing for 8 hours a day! Eliminate repetitive, manual processes with automation.
- Enforce security guidelines: Rules are rules. It’s best to automate in an effort to achieve strict security standards.
- Monitor configuration drift: Use check mode with Ansible tasks to enforce desired settings and see if your configuration has drifted.
- Disaster recovery: Disaster recovery can involve a wide range of components. Act across different variables of the technology stack to identify problems and eliminate cross team dependencies.
- Command blaster: Remarkably easy to write, you can run commands across your environment for any number of servers.
- Database binary patching: Several databases use outdated binary sets. Patch the binaries in accordance with the release of the latest patch.
- Instance provisioning: Use modules for several cloud providers to create new instances and tailor their configuration.
- Service license agreements: Mistakes cost time and money. Eliminate errors that can crop up in detailed software contracts.
How ansible helping LIFESUM
Based in Stockholm, Lifesum is a digital health platform that encourages users to lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Lifesum has proved hugely successful throughout Europe, reaching over 6 million downloads so far.
Lifesum’s platform uses a host of applications, in addition to a joint back end API, and it bases its infrastructure on AWS. Lifesum was looking for a simplified yet robust tool to allow configuration management, application deployment, and server provisioning.
Prior to introducing Ansible, Lifesum had used another tool but found provisioning and managing different environments a challenge.
Lifesum started their Ansible migration in 2014. It started implementing Ansible straight away and has used it in several major areas. First, Lifesum used Ansible playbooks “to automatically spin up virtual development machines with Vagrant”.
In the case study, Michal Gasek, SYSOPS Engineer/DBA at Lifesum also notes that Lifesum’s goal, “[is] to ensure that everyone had exactly the same working environment as we deploy our applications regularly. Three months later all our environments, from developer’s laptops to production instances on Amazon, [are] fully Ansible managed.”
Gasek continues, “We use AWS Auto Scaling and pre-bake Amazon AMI images with Ansible provisioning playbooks. When EC2 instances are launched by Auto Scaling, Ansible, triggered by cloud-init, runs provisioning playbooks, once again ensuring up-to-date configuration changes are applied, and pulling the latest applications versions from repositories. Ansible has helped us to automate, significantly simplify and speed up the process of dynamic resources scaling”.
Gasek adds that Ansible stood out because of its ‘power and simplicity’. Gasek also highlights how Ansible has enabled developers to concentrate on building ‘great product features’, rather than solving common problems like inconsistencies and misconfiguration.