Andrius Benokraitis

Author Archives: Andrius Benokraitis

What’s new in Ansible Automation Platform 2.2

 

aap2.2

The Ansible product team at Red Hat is thrilled to announce the general availability of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 2.2, which includes numerous features and bug fixes that further solidify Ansible Automation Platform as the de facto enterprise IT automation solution for developers to operations teams in data centers, clouds, and at the edge. A few of the most noteworthy features in this release include:

  • New automation topology viewer in automation controller

  • Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collections to be digitally signed in Ansible automation hub

  • Updated Ansible developer and creator tooling: ansible-navigator, ansible-lint, and VSCode language server support

  • Enhanced network automation Collections

  • Automation services catalog now available on-premise

  • Reporting and analytics of automation data are now further integrated and streamlined

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 support

Don’t forget to check out the product documentation including the release notes!

Automation topology viewer

Let’s face it, automating at enterprise scale is really hard. Although many features were added for the content creator and developer in Ansible Automation Platform 2, the automation operations teams are typically responsible for making sure automation is up and running as it should across all inventories, worldwide, with 24/7 availability and uptime. As enterprise Continue reading

Introducing Ansible Automation Platform 2

 

aap 2-1

For the last two years, the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform product team has been hard at work developing the next major release. We are incredibly excited to introduce Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 2, which was just announced at AnsibleFest 2021.

What’s new in Ansible Automation Platform 2?

The main focus was to enhance the foundational pieces of the Ansible Automation Platform and to enable automators to automate at enterprise scale more easily and flexibly. This means everything you know and love about writing Ansible Playbooks is largely unchanged, but what is evolving is the underlying implementation of how automation is developed, managed, and operated in large complex environments. In the end, enterprise automation platforms must be designed, packaged, and supported with container native and hybrid cloud environments in mind.

So how did we get here? It’s been years in the making, which included the following changes:

1. Ansible content was separated from the Ansible executable in the Ansible Project, creating a new construct called an Ansible Content Collections to house Ansible modules, plugins, roles and more in a discrete and atomic form.

The vast majority of time recently has been spent relocating the majority of Ansible Continue reading

A Tale of Two Network Automation Surveys

The 2020 results of the NetDevOps Survey are out! This was the third time the survey was conducted and was targeted to the network automation community. But first, a huge shout out to the team that led this effort again (Damien Garros and Francois Caen). The survey was 100% community-driven, and I thank them for allowing me to be a part of the team, and to provide feedback to existing and new questions.

This survey is a good representation of how network operators and network engineers are utilizing automation to get their jobs done, but largely without management buy-in or a proactive automation strategy. This blog is largely my hot take on the results, as seen through the lens of my history at Red Hat as an Ansible Product Manager helping to get network automation as an official commercial use case off the ground. I’m going to compare and contrast the survey questions and results between the most recent NetDevOps survey and the Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) Enterprise Network Automation for 2020 and Beyond results that Red Hat sponsored back in 2019.

Here are the main ideas I gleaned:

  1. Ansible continues to be the de-facto network (and more) automation language.
    Continue reading

Migrating to Ansible Collections (Webinar Q&A)

Sean Cavanaugh, Anshul Behl and I recently hosted a webinar entitled “Migrating to Ansible Collections” (link to YouTube on-demand webinar replay and link to PDF slides download). This webinar was focused on enabling the Ansible Playbook writers, looking to move to the wonderful world of Ansible Collections in existing Ansible 2.9 environments and beyond.

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 4.04.32 PM

 

The webinar was much more popular than we expected, so much so we didn’t have enough time to answer all the questions, so we took all the questions and put them in this blog to make them available to everyone.

 

I would like to use Ansible to automate an application using a REST API (for example creating a new bitbucket project). Should I be writing a role or a custom module? And should I then publish that as a Collection?    

It depends on how much investment you’d like to make into the module or role that you develop. For example, creating a role that references the built-in Ansible URI module can be evaluated versus creating an Ansible module written in Python. If you were to create a module, it can be utilized via a role developed by you or the playbook author. Continue reading

Migrating to Ansible Collections (Webinar Q&A)

Sean Cavanaugh, Anshul Behl and I recently hosted a webinar entitled “Migrating to Ansible Collections” (link to YouTube on-demand webinar replay and link to PDF slides download). This webinar was focused on enabling the Ansible Playbook writers, looking to move to the wonderful world of Ansible Collections in existing Ansible 2.9 environments and beyond.

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 4.04.32 PM

 

The webinar was much more popular than we expected, so much so we didn’t have enough time to answer all the questions, so we took all the questions and put them in this blog to make them available to everyone.

 

I would like to use Ansible to automate an application using a REST API (for example creating a new bitbucket project). Should I be writing a role or a custom module? And should I then publish that as a Collection?    

It depends on how much investment you’d like to make into the module or role that you develop. For example, creating a role that references the built-in Ansible URI module can be evaluated versus creating an Ansible module written in Python. If you were to create a module, it can be utilized via a role developed by you or the playbook author. Continue reading

Telco Mini Channel at AnsibleFest 2020

As we adapt AnsibleFest into a free virtual experience this year, we wanted to share with our automation lovers what to expect. Seasoned pros and brand new Ansiblings alike can find answers and guidance for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, the enterprise solution for building and operating automation at scale. We are giving our attendees an inside peek of exactly what to expect from each channel. Let’s take a closer look at what is to come from the network-telco mini channel at AnsibleFest 2020.

 

Network-Telco Automation at AnsibleFest

Telecommunication service providers have extremely critical and complex workflows that require specialized attention for automation. The network is no longer isolated to the data center, but extends to the enterprise and now the edge, each that have specific requirements. 

This is the first time Telco as an industry or use case has been specifically highlighted as part of its own channel at AnsibleFest. Data center automation has long been a use case for Ansible automation, but as Telco workloads are moving to the edge, so does the need to automate the enterprise, branch-office and entry points for end-users. 

Attendees can expect to hear about targeted use cases for Telecommunications Continue reading

Network Automation at AnsibleFest 2020

This year, we are adapting our signature automation event, AnsibleFest, into a free virtual experience to connect our communities with a wider audience and to collaborate to solve problems. Seasoned pros and brand new Ansiblings alike can find answers and guidance for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, the enterprise solution for building and operating automation at scale. We’re giving our attendees an inside peek into exactly what to expect from each channel. Let’s take a closer look at what is to come from the network channel at AnsibleFest 2020.

 

Network Automation at AnsibleFest

Gone are the days of hand-typing commands into network devices one by one. Manage your network infrastructure using Ansible throughout the entire development and production life cycle. This AnsibleFest channel focuses on network automation topics for module and Collection developers to playbook writers, and is geared towards network and cloud engineers/operators. The channel has a good mix of community, customers, partners and Red Hatters that aims to provide something for everyone.

Attendees will learn how network automation can no longer be a “point tool”, but instead part of a holistic automation strategy that spans IT teams. Although Ansible was built as a DIY tool, it needs Continue reading

Now Available: Red Hat-Maintained Content Collections on Automation Hub

Today marks an important milestone for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform subscribers: The initial release of Red Hat-maintained Ansible Content Collections have been published to Automation Hub for automating select platforms from Arista, AWS, Cisco, IBM, Juniper, Splunk and more. The addition of these 17 Red Hat-maintained Collections on Automation Hub brings the total number to 47 Collections certified and published since September 2019. Finally, we are thrilled to have Ansible Collections for automating Red Hat Insights and Red Hat Satellite included as part of this release as well.

Why is this significant? First, it is important to understand that the Ansible project has recently completed an effort to decouple the Ansible executable from most of the content, and all migrated content now resides in new upstream repositories on GitHub. This change has had a ripple effect on backend development, testing, publishing, and maintenance on Ansible content. The good news is that now features of high quality, can be delivered more quickly, asynchronously from Ansible releases. 

Today’s announcement highlights the successful culmination of the following: 

  1. Migration of Ansible-maintained content from Ansible project to Collections. 
  2. Releasing new features and functionality since Ansible 2.9, without having to wait Continue reading

Network Features Coming Soon in Ansible Engine 2.9

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The upcoming Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.9 release has some really exciting improvements, and the following blog highlights just a few of the notable additions. In typical Ansible fashion, development of Ansible Network enhancements are done in the open with the help of the community. You can follow along by watching the GitHub project board, as well as the roadmap for the Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.9 release via the Ansible Network wiki page.

As was recently announced, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform now includes Ansible Tower, Ansible Engine, and all Ansible Network content. To date, many of the most popular network platforms are enabled via Ansible Modules. Here are just a few:

  • Arista EOS
  • Cisco IOS
  • Cisco IOS XR
  • Cisco NX-OS
  • Juniper Junos
  • VyOS

A full list of the platforms that are fully supported by Red Hat via an Ansible Automation subscription can be found at the following location: https://docs.ansible.com/ansible/2.9/modules/network_maintained.html#network-supported

What we’ve learned

In the last four years we’ve learned a lot about developing a platform for network automation. We’ve also learned a lot about how users apply these platform artifacts as consumed in end-user Ansible Playbooks and Roles. In the Continue reading

Red Hat Ansible Automation: Engine, Tower or Both

Red Hat Ansible Automation

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of Ansible, or just starting out, the following blog provides experts and newbies with an update to the Red Hat Ansible Automation portfolio of products from Red Hat. You may have seen the official press release, and this blog hopes to answer some of the questions you still have.

Built on open source, backed by Red Hat

The Ansible project is one of the most popular open source projects, with almost 3,000 contributors in just over five years of existence. The Ansible project has always been an important part of the Ansible Tower “built-for-enterprise” story, but over the past few years a pattern has begun to emerge.

The Ansible project has grown over time, moving from just managing Linux servers to managing different types of devices: servers, virtual machines, containers, networking hardware, Windows platforms… even smart light bulbs. With the breadth of abilities to automate highly heterogeneous environments we received more requests for additional Red Hat offerings for diverse automation use cases. Red Hat Ansible Engine is now available for individuals and small teams to receive support for their Ansible environment, even if they do not need enterprise scalability via Ansible Tower.

Why You Should Attend AnsibleFest

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It’s that time again! The time when automators from all over converge at the official event for all things Ansible — AnsibleFest San Francisco! Fresh off the heels from a packed house at AnsibleFest London in June, AnsibleFest San Francisco is shaping up to be the biggest AnsibleFest ever. With about a week before showtime, now’s the best time to start planning a trip to the “City by the Bay” for a fantastic event before it sells out.

To give a better idea of what to expect (and how to convince your manager to go), I’ve provided the top five reasons to go to AnsibleFest in San Francisco:

1. Expanded agenda and a session on Key Topics and Trends with Jim Whitehurst Red Hat CEO

We’ve heard your feedback, and listened: now more breakout sessions! We have made an unprecedented increase in sessions, up from 16 to 25, from customers, partners and the community. All session have been posted to the AnsibleFest agenda so you can see the better-than-ever lineup we have created.

2. All Ansible, all the time

Of course, we realize that Red Hat Summit is the company’s flagship event (I’ve been to seven of them), but Summit Continue reading

Five Questions: Network Automation

Ask Ansible

Welcome to a new series where we interview Ansible experts on IT automation and ask them to share their direct experiences building automation solutions, as well as any insights they have regarding the state of the industry.

In this post, I’ve asked Peter Sprygada and Eric McLeroy five questions about network automation.

Peter Sprygada is a Senior Principal Engineer at Ansible by Red Hat where he brings over 20 years experience building and operating global network infrastructures. He holds two patents in network configuration automation and currently leads the Ansible network engineering team that focuses on building and integrating network automation capabilities into Ansible. Formerly Peter was responsible for building and leading the Arista EOS+ Extensibility Engineering team where he focused on applying DevOps methodologies to enhancing network operations. Prior to that, he held senior network engineering and operations roles at various organizations including Cisco. You can follow him on twitter at @privateip.

Eric McLeroy is a Senior Solutions Architect for Ansible by Red Hat focused on networking use cases. Eric has over 10 years in networking in large scale environments working with a large variety of systems from routers, switches, load balancers, etc. He holds multiple industry certifications and Continue reading

Ansible + Networking Webinar Q&A

Networking Blog - Webinar Q&A

The Ansible Ask an Expert webinar series continues to be one of the most popular series we’ve ever hosted. During these Q&A style webinars, our Ansible experts take questions from the audience about specific topics.

In March, we covered Ansible + Networking. We’ve compiled the questions and answers below for your reference.

Interested in more? Our next Ask an Expert: Networking webinar is scheduled for July 19 at 11AM EDT. Register here.


Q: Persistent connection optimization really applies to devices that do not use a REST API with support for long-lived access tokens (as opposed to cookies)?

A: That's correct. The persistent connection framework is designed to work with SSH based connections, which include CLI and NETCONF connection methods.

Q: Do you know if it's in the roadmap to ship Ansible Tower with jobs out-of-the-box for the most common tasks performed with Red Hat products? For example, deploy a jboss EAP, install OS packages, and stuff like that?

A: Assuming you are talking about "canned" Playbooks here. In most cases, each of the individual products would curate and maintain Playbooks for use and are distributed by the individual products (since there are support implications). The Ansible distribution does not include Continue reading

Networking Features Coming Soon in Ansible 2.3

Ansible 2.3 Networking Update

It’s been a year since the first networking modules were developed and included in Ansible 2.0. Since then, there have been two additional Ansible releases and more than 175 modules added, with 24 networking vendor platforms enabled. With the fantastic efforts from the community and our networking partners, Ansible has been able to add more and more features for networking use cases. In the forthcoming Ansible 2.3 release, the focus on networking enablement now turns to increasing performance and adding connection methods that provide compatibility and flexibility.

Looking ahead to Ansible 2.3, the most notable additions planned are:

  • Persistent connections framework
  • The network_cli connection plugin
  • The netconf connection plugin

Why are these features important?

Since Ansible 2.0, the primary focus for networking enablement has been to help increase the number of third-party devices that have modules included by default. As this list grows (we expect to have even more platforms and modules in Ansible 2.3), Ansible and Ansible Tower continue to be trusted components of critical networking production deployments.

The development of these plugins further demonstrates the value and investment Ansible and the community have made into networking infrastructure enablement. As we approach the Ansible Continue reading

OpenStack Summit 2016: Key takeaways & Rocket Turtles

A few weeks ago, several of Cumulus Networks’ passionate employees headed to Barcelona to connect with other cloud-enthusiasts at the 2016 OpenStack Summit in Barcelona. We were there to visit our customers, partners, talk about our solutions, and connect with other industry experts. Here are the highlights.

 

OpenStack Summit Rocket Turtles

 

 

If you were lucky enough to attend the event, you may have met one of our infectious leaders (CTO and Co-founder) JR Rivers. He was manning our booth along with the EMEA team and a few marketing and product members. The team was there to connect with partners, talk about our technology, and of course, pass out our new rocket turtle.

 

 

 

We’d like to give a special shoutout to JR who unwrapped more than 800 #RocketTurtles! They were an instant hit, and have been spotted in various parts of Barcelona.

 

OpenStack Summit Rocket Turtle in Barcelona

 

OpenStack Summit Giveaway Winner

 

 

 

By visiting our booth or our partners’, Mellanox, Red Hat, Dell and Midokura, attendees were able to enter a chance to win a Lego Mindstorm EV3. Congrats to our winner, Jules Chevalier!

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights of the event for us was connecting with other industry folks in Continue reading

Introducing the Solutions Marketplace

Traditional enterprise networking is under siege — threatened by choice, by open source, and by open standards. The same revolution that made Linux the standard for server operating systems is now happening to network switching. With over 1.5 million ports in production, 50+ certified hardware platforms across 8 hardware vendors, Cumulus Linux® is the de-facto platform for Open Networking, and a perfect example of what the next generation data centers should include.

But the age-old claim that “It’s Just Linux, you can do whatever you want!” can complicate solving specific problems customers have in the enterprise. Based on feedback from community members, we’ve created the Solutions Marketplace on the Cumulus Networks Community Website. The Solutions Marketplace is a repository of community-submitted projects, user space applications, automation scripts, and extensions to Cumulus Linux. This enables collaboration and fosters innovation through a common platform to develop upon openly and freely using Cumulus VX.

The Solutions Marketplace with Cumulus Linux expedites the path to production due to the availability of existing community expertise. Best practices are shared, which means you don’t have to start from zero when building out your data center. A disaggregated hardware/software model enables flexible environments and leverages Continue reading

Will OpenStack Stay Disreputable?

“Keeping It Dirty”

I’ve lived in Durham, North Carolina since 1999 — I love it here, and I’ve finally found home. It’s been recognized as Tastiest Town, a Different Kind of Silicon Valley and one of the Best Places to Live. But it wasn’t always like that. Durham rose up from the ashes of failed tobacco and textile industries to a modern hub of medicine, research, and high-tech firms. Despite Durham’s rise over the past 10 years, non-Durhamites around the Research Triangle remember the Durham of old and are skeptical of it’s newfound success and reputation as a progressive yet gritty town.

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The parallels between the rise of Durham’s revitalization and OpenStack’s popularity are uncanny. You still hear the following comments today:

“Why do you live in Durham, are you crazy?”
“How can you trust OpenStack community developers and run it in production?”

Enterprises continue to be skeptical of OpenStack’s production worthiness, but many companies are betting their businesses on this project. DreamHost, a Cumulus Linux customer, has been running a state-of-the-art OpenStack deployment for over two years. They automate their entire data center with Chef, leveraging Infrastructure as Code principles. Many others use standard DevOps Continue reading

NetDevOps: Networking Methods with a DevOps Mindset

DevOps brings together software developers and IT operations through mutual and organic cooperation and collaboration. In legacy IT shops, the roles of developers and IT operations are logically segregated, which stifles progress and prohibits progressive integration efforts. Products that leverage DevOps provide developers self-service capabilities they’ve never had before — eliminating provisioning bottlenecks and adapting to changes quickly. The platform becomes highly scalable and flexible, removing much of the “red tape” in getting things done.

This is all well and good, and is often sufficient for most, but networking is often neglected as a part of the DevOps model. Common questions that arise include the following:

  • Is your current networking strategy holding you back from scaling new projects quickly?
  • Is your network topology designed to quickly add and remove compute infrastructure?
  • How can your network integrate in a DevOps orchestrated world?

This is where including DevOps for networking comes in, or “NetDevOps.” Traditional networking infrastructure can be difficult to manage when requiring agility with updated tools. If your organization is already implementing DevOps principles or has an organization that is flat or non-siloed, integrating networking into your framework may be right for you.

NetDevOps extends what you’re already doing Continue reading