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Category Archives for "Ansible Blog"

Ansible Network Resource Modules: Deep Dive on Return Values

The Red Hat Ansible Network Automation engineering team is continually adding new resource modules to its supported network platforms.  Ansible Network Automation resource modules are opinionated network modules that make network automation easier to manage and more consistent for those automating various network platforms in production. The goal for resource modules is to avoid creating and maintaining overly complex jinja2 templates for rendering and pushing network configuration, as well as having to maintain complex fact gathering and parsing methodologies.  For this blog post, we will cover standard return values that are the same across all supported network platforms (e.g. Arista EOS, Cisco IOS, NXOS, IOS-XR, and Juniper Junos) and all resource modules. 

Before we get started, I wanted to call out three previous blog posts covering resource modules. If you are unfamiliar with resource modules, check any of these out:

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.

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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

Introduction to Ansible Builder

Hello and welcome to another introductory Ansible blog post, where we'll be covering a new command-line interface (CLI) tool, Ansible Builder. Please note that this article will cover some intermediate-level topics such as containers (Ansible Builder uses Podman by default), virtual environments, and Ansible Content Collections. If you have some familiarity with those topics, then read on to find out what Ansible Builder is, why it was developed, and how to use it. 

This project is currently in development upstream on GitHub and is not yet part of the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform product.  As with all Red Hat software, our code is open and we have an open source development model for our enterprise software.  The goal of this blog post is to show the current status of this initiative, and start getting the community and customers comfortable with our methodologies, thought process, and concept of Execution Environments.  Feedback on this upstream project can be provided on GitHub via comments and issues, or provided via the various methods listed on our website.  There is also a great talk on AnsibleFest.com, titled “Creating and Using Ansible Execution Environments,” available on-demand, which Continue reading

Using NetBox for Ansible Source of Truth

Here you will learn about NetBox at a high level, how it works to become a Source of Truth (SoT), and look into the use of the Ansible Content Collection, which is available on Ansible Galaxy. The goal is to show some of the capabilities that make NetBox a terrific tool and why you will want to use NetBox as your network Source of Truth for automation!

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Source of Truth

Why a Source of Truth? The Source of Truth is where you go to get the intended state of the device. There does not need to be a single Source of Truth, but you should have a single Source of Truth per data domain, often referred to as the System of Record (SoR). For example, if you have a database that maintains your physical sites that is used by teams outside of the IT domain, that should be the Source of Truth on physical sites. You can aggregate the data from the physical site Source of Truth into other data sources for automation. Just be aware that when it comes time to collect data, then it should come from that other tool.

The first step in creating a network automation Continue reading

New LibSSH Connection Plugin for Ansible Network Replaces Paramiko, Adds FIPS Mode Enablement

As Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform expands its footprint with a growing customer base, security continues to be an important aspect of organizations’ overall strategy. Red Hat regularly reviews and enhances the foundational codebase to follow better security practices. As part of this effort, we are introducing FIPS 140-2 readiness enablement by means of a newly developed Ansible SSH connection plugin that uses the libssh library. 

 

Ansible Network SSH Connection Basics

Since most network appliances don't support or have limited capability for the local execution of a third party software, the Ansible network modules are not copied to the remote host unlike linux hosts; instead, they run on the control node itself. Hence, Ansible network can’t use the typical Ansible SSH connection plugin that is used with linux host. Furthermore, due to this behavior, performance of the underlying SSH subsystem is critical. Not only is the new LibSSH connection plugin enabling FIPS readiness, but it was also designed to be more performant than the existing Paramiko SSH subsystem.

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The top level network_cli connection plugin, provided by the ansible.netcommon Collection (specifically ansible.netcommon.network_cli), provides an SSH based connection to the network appliance. It in turn calls the Continue reading

Now Available: Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 1.2

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform 1.2 is now generally available with increased focus on improving efficiency, increasing productivity and controlling risk and expenses.  While many IT infrastructure engineers are familiar with automating compute platforms, Ansible Automation Platform is the first holistic automation platform to help manage, automate and orchestrate everything in your IT infrastructure from edge to datacenter.  To download the newest release or get a trial license, please sign up on http://red.ht/try_ansible.

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An automation platform for mission critical workloads

The Ansible project is a remarkable open source project with hundreds of thousands of users encompassing a large community.  Red Hat extends this community and open source developer model to innovate, experiment and incorporate feedback to satisfy our customer challenges and use cases.  Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform transforms Ansible and many related open source projects into an enterprise grade, multi-organizational automation platform for mission-critical workloads.  In modern IT infrastructure, automation is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s often now a requirement to run, operate and scale how everything is managed: including network, security, Linux, Windows, cloud and more. 

Ansible Automation Platform includes a RESTful API for seamless integration with existing IT tools Continue reading

Introducing the Ansible Content Collection for Red Hat OpenShift

Increasing business demands are driving the need for automation to support rapid, yet stable and reliable deployments of applications and supporting infrastructure.  Kubernetes and cloud-native tools have quickly emerged as the enabling technologies essential for organizations to build the scalable open hybrid cloud solutions of tomorrow. This is why Red Hat has developed the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) to enable enterprises to meet these emerging business and technical challenges. Red Hat OpenShift brings together Kubernetes and other cloud-native technologies into a single, consistent platform that has been fine-tuned and enhanced for the enterprise. 

There are many similarities to how Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform approach their individual problem domains that make a natural fit when we bring the two together to help make hard things easier through automation and orchestration.

We’ve released the Ansible Content Collection for Red Hat OpenShift (redhat.openshift) to enable the automation and management of Red Hat OpenShift clusters. This is the latest edition to the certified content available to subscribers of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform in the Ansible Automation Hub.

In this blog post, we will go over what you’ll find in redhat.openshift Continue reading

What’s New and What’s Changed in the Ansible Content Collection for Kubernetes

Increasing business demands are driving the need for increased automation to support rapid, yet stable, and reliable deployments of applications and supporting infrastructure. Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies are no different. That is why we recently released kubernetes.core 1.1, our first Certified Content Collection for deploying and managing Kubernetes applications and services.

Prior to the release of kubernetes.core 1.1, its contents were released as community.kubernetes. With this content becoming Red Hat supported and certified, a name change was in order. We are in the process of making that transition, starting with this release. 

In this blog post, we will go over what else has changed and what’s new in this Content Collection as it transitions and enhances it from its community roots. 

 

Focus on The Future

In looking to create a stable and supported release from the upstream sources that Red Hat is known for, the first thing we did was look at what was in community.kubernetes and elsewhere to organize it for the future. This not only led to the aforementioned name change: the content and underlying code was reorganized to be more maintainable and ready to serve as the Continue reading

Automating Helm using Ansible

Increasing business demands are driving the need for increased automation to support rapid, yet stable, and reliable deployments of applications and supporting infrastructure. Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies are no different. For the Kubernetes platform, Helm is the standard means of packaging, configuring and deploying applications and services onto any cluster.

We recently released the kubernetes.core 1.1, our first Red Hat Certified Content Collection release, for general use. A big part of the new content that has been introduced is support for automating Helm operations. In this blog post, I will show you some common scenarios for its use in your automation.

Please note that prior to the release of kubernetes.core 1.1, its contents were released as community.kubernetes. With this content becoming Red Hat support and certified content, a name change was in order. We are in the process of making that transition

 

A Quick Introduction to Helm

Helm is an open source tool used for packaging and deploying applications on Kubernetes. It is often called Kubernetes Package Manager. It is widely adopted by the Kubernetes community and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) graduate project.

Helm simplifies deployment of the applications by abstracting Continue reading

Control your content with private Automation Hub

Private Automation Hub is now available as part of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform release 1.2, providing an easier way for our customers to manage their Ansible content. Whether they produce private content, access trusted and supported content from Red Hat or obtain content from third party or other community sources, an internally controlled capability is essential to support the continued growth of automation. As automation becomes critical to managing IT activities, so too becomes the need to have a focal point where collaboration can be encouraged, content shared and trust reinforced. 

Private Automation Hub is a self-hosted Ansible content management system. Organizations can host private hubs on their own infrastructure and manage it themselves. Similar to how Red Hat Satellite enables Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers to manage operating system content, private Automation Hub enables automation teams to manage Ansible automation content.  Private Automation Hub allows curation and distribution of Ansible content as close as possible to Ansible Automation Platform clusters. Private Automation Hub is included in the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform subscription.

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Ansible content can be broken up into three main categories:

  1. Community content found in Ansible Galaxy
  2. Red Hat certified and supported content Continue reading

Getting started with Ansible security automation: Threat Hunting

AnsibleFest has just wrapped up, with a whole track dedicated to security automation, our answer to the lack of integration across the IT security industry. If you’re looking for a use case to start with, our investigation enrichment blog will give you yet another example of where Ansible can facilitate typical operational challenges of security practitioners.

Ansible security automation is about integrating various security technologies with each other. One part of this challenge is the technical complexity: different products, interfaces, workflows, etc. But another equally important part is getting the processes of different teams in the security organization aligned. After all, one sign of successful automation is the deployment across team boundaries.

This is especially true with threat hunting activities: when security analysts suspect a malicious activity or want to prove a hypothesis, they need to work with rules and policies to fine tune the detection and identification. This involves changes and configurations on various target systems managed by different teams.

In this blog post, we will start with a typical day-to-day security operations challenge and walk through some example threat hunting steps - adding more teams and products over the course to finally show how Red Hat Ansible Automation Continue reading

Best of Fest: AnsibleFest 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us over the past two days for the AnsibleFest 2020 virtual experience. We had such a great time connecting with Ansible lovers across the globe. In case you missed some of it (or all of it), we have some event highlights to share with you! If you want to go see what you may have missed, all the AnsibleFest 2020 content will be available on demand for a year. 

 

Community Updates

This year at AnsibleFest 2020, Ansible Community Architect Robyn Bergeron kicked off with her keynote on Tuesday morning. We heard how with Ansible Content Collections, it’s easier than ever to use Ansible the way you want or need to, as a contributor or an end user. Ansible 2.10 is now available, and Robyn explained how the feedback loop got us there. If you want to hear more about the Ansible community project, go watch Robyn’s keynote on demand

 

Product Updates

Ansible’s own Richard Henshall talked about the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform product updates and new releases. In 2018, we unveiled the Ansible certified partner program and now we have over 50 platforms certified. We are bridging traditional Continue reading

Deep Dive: ACL Configuration Management Using Ansible Network Automation Resource Modules

In October 2019 as part of the Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.9 release, the Ansible Network Automation team introduced the first resource modules. These opinionated network modules make network automation easier and more consistent for those automating various network platforms in production. The goal for resource modules is to avoid creating and maintaining overly complex jinja2 templates for rendering and pushing network configuration. 

This blog post covers the newly released ios_acls resource module and how to automate manual processes associated with switch and router configurations. These network automation modules are used for configuring routers and switches from popular vendors (but not limited to) Arista, Cisco, Juniper, and VyOS. The access control lists (ACLs) network resource modules are able to read ACL configuration from the network, provide the ability to modify and then push changes to the network device. These opinionated network resource modules make network automation easier and more consistent for those automating various network platforms in production. I’ll walk through several examples and describe the use cases for each state parameter (including three newly released state types) and how these are used in real world scenarios.

 

The Certified Content Collection

This blog uses the cisco.ios Continue reading

IT Leader Channel at AnsibleFest 2020

Whether you have automated different domains within your business or are just getting started, creating a roadmap to automation that can be passed between teams and understood at different levels is critical to any automation strategy. 

We’ve brought back the IT Decision Maker track at AnsibleFest this year after its debut in 2019, featuring sessions that help uplevel the conversation about automation, create consensus between teams and get automation goals accomplished faster. 

 

What you can expect

There are a variety of sessions in the IT Decision Maker track. A few are focused on specific customer use cases of how they adopted and implemented Ansible. These tracks are great companions to our customer keynotes, including those from CarMax and PRA Health Sciences, that will dive into their Ansible implementation at a technical level. This track aims to cover the many constituents of automation within a business and how to bring  the right type of teams together to extend your automation to these stakeholders. 

Newcomers to AnsibleFest will get a lot out of this track, as many of the sessions are aimed at those with a beginner’s level knowledge of Ansible Automation Platform and its hosted services. Those Continue reading

Culture at AnsibleFest 2020

At Red Hat, we’ve long recognized that the power of collaboration enables communities to achieve more together than individuals can accomplish on their own. Developing an organizational culture that empowers communities to flourish and collaborate -- whether in an open source community or for an internal community of practice -- isn’t always straightforward. This year at AnsibleFest, the Culture topic aims to demystify some of these areas by sharing the stories, practices, and examples that can get you on your path to better collaboration. 

 

Culture at AnsibleFest: “Open” for participation

Because we recognize that culture is not a “one size fits all” topic, we’ve made sure to sprinkle nearly every track at AnsibleFest with relevant content to help every type of Ansible user (or manager of Ansible users!) participate in developing healthy cultures and communities of automation inside their organizations. 

Whether you’re interested in contributing to open source communities, learning how others have grown the use of Ansible inside their departments or organizations, or if you’re simply interested in building healthy, diverse, inclusive communities, inside or outside the workplace -- the Culture (cross) Channel at AnsibleFest has you covered. 

 

Be a Cultural Catalyst for Continue reading

AnsibleFest 2020 Live Q&A

We are less than a week away from AnsibleFest 2020! We can’t wait to connect with you and help you connect with other automation lovers. We have some great content lined up for this year’s virtual experience and that includes some amazing Live Q&A Sessions. This year, you will be able to get your questions answered from Ansible experts, Red Hatters and Ansible customers. Let’s dive into what you can expect. 

 

Tuesday, October 13

11am

Live Q&A: Get all your network automation questions answered with Brad Thornton, Iftikhar Khan and Sean Cavanaugh

In this session, a panel of experts discuss a wide range of use cases around network automation.  They will talk about the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and the product direction including Ansible Network Collections, resource modules and managing network devices in a GitOps model. Bring your questions for the architects and learn more about how Red Hat is helping organizations operationalize automation in their network while bridging gaps between different IT infrastructure teams.

 

Live Q&A: Bridging traditional, container, and edge platforms through automation with Joe Fitzgerald, Ashesh Badani, and Stefanie Chiras

Join this panel discussion, moderated by Kelly Fitzpatrick (Redmonk), to hear from Continue reading

Getting Started With AWS Ansible Module Development and Community Contribution

We often hear from cloud admins and developers that they’re interested in giving back to Ansible and using their knowledge to benefit the community, but they don’t know how to get started.  Lots of folks may even already be carrying new Ansible modules or plugins in their local environments, and are looking to get them included upstream for more broad use.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to get started as an Ansible contributor. If you’re already using the Ansible AWS modules, there are many ways to use your existing knowledge, skills and experience to contribute. If you need some ideas on where to contribute, take a look at the following:

  • Creating integration tests: Creating missing tests for modules is a great way to get started, and integration tests are just Ansible tasks!
  • Module porting: If you’re familiar with the boto3 Python library, there’s also a backlog of modules that need to be ported from boto2 to boto3.
  • Repository issue triage: And of course there’s always open Github issues and pull requests. Testing bugs or patches and providing feedback on your use cases and experiences is very valuable.

The AWS Ansible Content Collections

Starting with Ansible 2.10, the AWS Continue reading

The Network CLI is Dead, Long Live XML! (just kidding, it’s an Ansible+NETCONF+YANG Deep Dive)

Now that I've startled you, no, the network CLI isn’t going away anytime soon, nor are people going to start manipulating XML directly for their network configuration data. What I do want to help you understand is how Ansible can now be used as an interface into automating the pushing and pulling of configuration data (via NETCONF) in a structured means (via YANG data models) without having to truly learn about either of these complex concepts. All you have to understand is how to use the Ansible Content Collection as shown below, obfuscating all technical implementation details that have burdened network operators and engineers for years.

 

Setting the stage

Before we even start talking about NETCONF and YANG, our overall goal is for the network to leverage configuration data in a structured manner. This makes network automation much more predictable and reliable when ensuring operation state. NETCONF and YANG are the low-level pieces of the puzzle, but we are making it easier to do via well known Ansible means and methodologies.

What we believe as Ansible developers is that NETCONF and YANG aren't (and shouldn't) be quintessential or ultimate goals for network automation engineers. You should not need to Continue reading

Customer Spotlights at AnsibleFest 2020

AnsibleFest 2020 will be here before we know it, and we cannot wait to connect with everyone in October. We have some great content lined up for this year’s virtual experience and that includes some amazing customer spotlights. This year you will get to hear from CarMax, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, T-Mobile, PRA International and CEPSA. These customers are using Ansible in a variety of ways, and we hope you connect to their incredible stories of teamwork and transformative automation.

 

Customer Spotlights

Benjamin Blizard, a Network Engineer at T-Mobile, will explore how T-Mobile transformed from a disparate organization with difficulty enforcing standards to a collaborative group of engineers working from repeatable templates and processes. T-Mobile, a major telecommunications provider, uses Ansible Automation Platform to standardize processes across their organization. Ben will show how automation supports T-Mobile’s compliance standards, data integrity, and produces speed and efficiency for network teams. 

 

What Next?

Join us for AnsibleFest 2020 to hear from more customer like T-mobile talk about their automation journey. Make sure to go and register today and check out the session catalog that lists all the content that we have prepared for you this year. We look Continue reading

Introducing the VMware REST Ansible Content Collection

The VMware Ansible modules as part of the current community.vmware Collection are extremely popular. According to GitHub, it's the second most forked Collection1, just after community.general. The VMware modules and plugins for Ansible have benefited from a stream of contributions from dozens of users. Many IT infrastructure engineers rely on managing their VMware infrastructure by means of a simple Ansible Playbook. The vast majority of the current VMware modules are built on top of a dependent python library called pyVmomi, also known as vSphere Automation SDK for Python.

 

Why a new VMware Ansible Content Collection?

VMware has recently introduced the vSphere REST API for vSphere 6.0 and later, which will likely replace the existing SOAP SDK used in the community.vmware Collection.

Since the REST API’s initial release, vSphere support for the REST API has only improved. Furthermore, there is no longer a need for any dependent python packages. In order to maintain the existing VMware modules in the community.vmware Collection, a set of modules specifically for interacting with the VMware REST API is now available in the newly created vmware.vmware_rest Collection.

If you compare modules used with the VMware vSphere Continue reading

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