Colin McNaughton

Author Archives: Colin McNaughton

Find and delete ServiceNow records en masse with the updated Ansible Content Collection

Have you ever had to query and remove a long list of ServiceNow records? Yeah, neither have I until recently. Nobody broke into my instance, and this isn't a one-time operation, I just happen to maintain an instance that we use to test our Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for ServiceNow ITSM

To set up the environment, I use a demo system and another workflow to create a random user and then allow a learner to progress through some challenges using full Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform deployments and a shared ServiceNow instance. Because this is a real live instance, there's no telling what sort of records learners will create. For this reason, I recently had to develop some automation to clean up records created by these demo user accounts.

Although my use-case was to clean up demo user accounts, this could just as well have been a critical ServiceNow instance that had erroneous records that needed cleaning up. This Collection can be leveraged to create, update, modify, or delete just about anything on ServiceNow.

If you’re following along, make sure you install a version of the servicenow.itsm Collection equal to or greater than 2.0.0 Continue reading

Released: Automation content navigator 2.0

content navigator blog

Automation content navigator releases with Ansible Automation Platform 2.2

 

What is it?

Automation content navigator was released alongside Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 2.0 and changed the way content creators build and test Ansible automation. Navigator 1.0 drew together multiple Ansible command line tools like ansible-playbook, ansible-doc, ansible-config, etc. and continues to accrue seriously useful new features to help deliver greater flexibility to automation creators.

Coinciding with the release of Ansible Automation Platform 2.2, navigator 2.0 introduces improvements to existing functionality alongside additional features to aid in the development of automation content.

Within navigator 2.0, you will find:

  • Automation execution environment image build support 
  • Ability to interact in real-time with automation execution environments 
  • Settings subcommand to view active configuration of local environment 
  • Generate a sample configuration file that can be used for new projects
  • Automatic mode selection (stdout vs. interactive) 
  • Technology preview lint support, UI improvements, Collections view support for Ansible built-ins, time zone support, color enhancements, and more!

Looking closer

Image builder support

Before the release of navigator 2.0, a separate command line application (ansible-builder)  was needed to build execution environment images from human readable YAML files. With this release, ansible-navigator Continue reading

Inside the newest features in the Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for ServiceNow ITSM

The Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for ServiceNow helps you create automated workflows targeting IT service management (ITSM) tasks faster while establishing and maintaining a single source of truth in the ServiceNow configuration management database (CMDB). In this blog, I’ll share the latest features we’ve added to the Collection, and you can find additional resources about existing features at the end of this blog. 

We’ve added three major updates to the Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for ServiceNow:

  • Advanced inventory features
  • Customized list mappings
  • Creating problem tasks and change requests tasks

Let’s take a closer look at each of these. 

 

Support for advanced inventory features 

A new feature in ServiceNow Collection introduces a new inventory functionality, called “enhanced inventory”, which provides the ability to create groups based on CMDB relationships. Previous versions of the inventory plugin allowed us to create predefined groups, such as the “Linux Red Hat” and “Windows XP” examples shown here: 

---
plugin: servicenow.itsm.now
query:
  - os: = Linux Red Hat
  - os: = Windows XP
keyed_groups:
  - key: os
    prefix: os

Inspecting the inventory collected using the above configuration results in:

ansible-inventory -i inventory.now.yaml --graph` output:
|[email protected]_Linux_Red_Hat:
 Continue reading

Automating execution environment image builds with GitHub Actions

Ansible Automation Platform 2 leverages containers dubbed automation execution environments which bundle in collection, python and platform dependencies to provide predictable, self-contained automation spaces that can be easily distributed across an organization.

In addition, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform introduced tools such as execution environment builder, used to create execution environments, and automation content navigator, used to inspect images and execute automation within execution environments. These tools themselves are also highly automatable and can be included in workflows to automatically generate environments to support the execution of automation throughout the organization.

For this demonstration, let's cut to film where I’ll walk through a demo scenario and verify along the way that we’re on the right track. Additionally, you can fork the repository for your own proof of concept.

 

Where to go next

What’s new in Ansible Automation Platform 2: automation content navigator

AAP 2 gray sliding a

With the introduction of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 2, several new key components are being introduced as a part of the overall developer experience. This includes automation execution environments, introduced to provide predictable environments during automation runtime. All collection dependencies are contained within the execution environment to make sure that automation created in development environments runs the same as in production environments.

Building execution environments is now easier with the introduction of the execution environment builder (ansible-builder) tool included with Ansible Automation Platform, while the updates to automation controller help IT teams leverage execution environments.

Considering the shift towards containerized execution of automation, the automation development workflow and pre-existing tooling must be reimagined. In short, ansible-navigator replaces ansible-playbook and other ansible-*` command line utilities.

However, ansible-navigator serves a much greater purpose than just a drop in replacement or alias to ansible-playbook. With this release, ansible-navigator is introduced as an application exclusively for developing and executing automation. Ansible-playbook has long been one of the first utilities that is leveraged in an Ansible automated environment. Building on the ease of use, the automation content navigator exposes automation runs in greater detail. Apart from debugging Continue reading

Announcing the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Certified Ansible Collection

Today we're thrilled to announce that the RHEL System Roles Collection is now certified with Ansible Automation Platform and is being delivered to organizations through Ansible Automation Hub. Starting with the forthcoming RHEL 8.4, this means that the system roles Collection is immediately available under technology preview support and planned to be fully supported by both RHEL and Ansible Automation Platform product support experts. 

What is it, why use it

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is the world's leading enterprise Linux platform. System administrators expect features and improvements to deliver on the agility demanded by their end users. In order to abstract away tedious, error-prone manual administration and configuration, RHEL system roles offer a path towards a repeatable and predictable operating system configuration. Under the hood, these Ansible roles and modules are now packaged, provided via an Ansible Content Collection

 

For customers with both RHEL and Ansible Automation Platform subscriptions, this means that the automation platform gains new certified content to predictably drive the configuration of RHEL, wherever it may be deployed, to ensure the stability that Red Hat customers expect from an enterprise Linux operating system. Finally, continuing the commitment for upstream community development and Continue reading

Automating Red Hat Virtualization with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Red Hat Virtualization (RHV) is a complete, and fully supported enterprise virtualization platform that is built upon a foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), oVirt virtualization management projects, and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology in order to virtualize resources, processes and applications. 

With RHEL as the compute provider, RHV addsan intuitive web interface with a robust API including SDKs for Java, Ruby, Python, JavaScript and Go for management of virtualization instances and resources that comprise a typical datacenter. 

Interacting with an API through a full fledged SDK may present a barrier to datacenter automation due to requisite knowledge of a programming language before getting started. This also means that collaboration may be stifled due to a lack of resources proficient in one of the available SDKs. Standardizing on Ansible for automating RHV allows for all teams and individuals to create and maintain automation without knowledge of a programming language. 

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform allows for interacting with datacenter services in a cleanly formatted and human readable markup language that offers an on-ramp to automating the datacenter. By leveraging the newly released Ansible Content Collection for RHV, this gentle on-ramp to automation becomes more powerful by Continue reading

Automating Red Hat Virtualization with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Red Hat Virtualization (RHV) is a complete, and fully supported enterprise virtualization platform that is built upon a foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), oVirt virtualization management projects, and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology in order to virtualize resources, processes and applications. 

With RHEL as the compute provider, RHV addsan intuitive web interface with a robust API including SDKs for Java, Ruby, Python, JavaScript and Go for management of virtualization instances and resources that comprise a typical datacenter. 

Interacting with an API through a full fledged SDK may present a barrier to datacenter automation due to requisite knowledge of a programming language before getting started. This also means that collaboration may be stifled due to a lack of resources proficient in one of the available SDKs. Standardizing on Ansible for automating RHV allows for all teams and individuals to create and maintain automation without knowledge of a programming language. 

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform allows for interacting with datacenter services in a cleanly formatted and human readable markup language that offers an on-ramp to automating the datacenter. By leveraging the newly released Ansible Content Collection for RHV, this gentle on-ramp to automation becomes more powerful by Continue reading

Using Ansible Automation Platform, GitLab CE and Webhooks to Deploy IIS Website

Inside Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, the Ansible Tower REST API is the key mechanism that helps enable automation to be integrated into processes or tools that exist in an environment. With Ansible Tower 3.6 we have brought direct integration with webhooks from GitHub and GitLab, including the enterprise on-premises versions. This means that changes in source control can trigger automation to apply changes to infrastructure configuration, deploy new services, reconfigure existing applications, and more. In this blog, I’ll run through a simple scenario and apply the new integrated webhook feature.

 

Environment

My environment consists of Ansible Tower (one component of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform), GitLab CE with a project already created, and a code server running an IDE with the same git repository cloned. A single inventory exists on Ansible Tower with just one host, an instance of Windows 2019 Server running on a certified cloud. For this example, I’m going to deploy IIS on top of this Windows server and make some modifications to the html file that I’d like to serve from this site. 

My playbook to deploy IIS is very simple:

 ---
- name: Configure IIS
  hosts: windows

  tasks:
  - name: Install  Continue reading

Getting Started With Ansible Content Collections

blog_getting-started_content-collections

With the release of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, Ansible Content Collections are now fully supported. Ansible Content Collections, or collections, represent the new standard of distributing, maintaining and consuming automation. By combining multiple types of Ansible content (playbooks, roles, modules, and plugins), flexibility and scalability are greatly improved.

 

Who Benefits?

Everyone!

Traditionally, module creators have had to wait for their modules to be marked for inclusion in an upcoming Ansible release or had to add them to roles, which made consumption and management more difficult. By shipping modules within Ansible Content Collections along with pertinent roles and documentation, and removing the barrier to entry, creators are now able to move as fast as the demand for their creations. For a public cloud provider, this means new functionality of an existing service or a new service altogether, can be rolled out along with the ability to automate the new functionality.

For the automation consumer, this means that fresh content is continuously made available for consumption. Managing content in this manner also becomes easier as modules, plugins, roles, and docs are packaged and tagged with a collection version. Modules can be updated, renamed, improved upon; roles can be updated to Continue reading