Review: Ansible beefs up IT automation

Ansible 2 eases configuration management, while boosting playbooks, modules, and Windows support

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At a Glance
  • Ansible 2.1

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    Ansible simplifies configuration management and IT automation with a push-based approach and easy-to-understand playbooks.

At a time when the configuration management market was dominated by Puppet and Chef, an open source project called Ansible emerged with a simpler approach to automating IT environments. An agentless system that was easy to learn, Ansible quickly earned a name for itself. Before long, the developers behind the project formed a company to offer commercial support. That company -- first known as AnsibleWorks, then Ansible -- was acquired by open source leader Red Hat in October 2015.

Originally built as an execution engine, Ansible began by allowing Linux and Unix admins to remotely run arbitrary commands on one or more machines, but it has since evolved into a complete solution for automating and managing your entire IT infrastructure. With version 2.0, Ansible added more than 200 modules to improve and expand support for Amazon Web Services, CloudStack, OpenStack, VMware, Windows, and network infrastructure, among other targets. Version 2.1 improves Docker support, adds a bunch of modules for Microsoft Azure, and removes the beta label from Windows support.

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