Red Hat Composes Ansible to Help Build Containers

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2016-06-21 Print this article Print
Red Hat devops platform

Red Hat expands its DevOps platform to enable developers to more easily build their own containers.

Red Hat is expanding its open-source Ansible platform with a new module called Ansible Container that enables organizations to build and deploy containers. Ansible is a DevOps automation platform technology that Red Hat acquired in October 2015.

A popular option of many Docker container developers today is to use the Docker Compose tool to build containers. The new Ansible Container effort isn't necessarily competitive with Docker Compose; in fact, it can be used in a complementary way, according to Greg DeKoenigsberg, director of Ansible Community with Red Hat. Developers don't have to stop using Docker Compose; rather they can literally copy and paste or reference Docker Compose right from an Ansible playbook with Ansible Container, he said.

"We designed Ansible Container to be able to embrace and extend Docker Compose so that Compose users could benefit from Ansible Container as well," DeKoenigsberg told eWEEK. "Specifically, Compose users are still going to find Ansible Container's 'shipit' functionality useful for deploying container-based applications to container orchestration platforms like OpenShift."

The "shipit" functionality is an application deployment capability, while OpenShift is Red Hat's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering. DeKoenigsberg emphasized that Ansible Container isn't specific to just Docker containers. Just like the rest of Ansible, Red Hat is building Ansible Container to be pluggable to include other container formats and container platforms, he said.

The Ansible Container technology is now a technology preview and is its own project under the Ansible umbrella. In May, Red Hat updated the core Ansible open-source release to version 2.1, providing enhanced Microsoft support. DeKoenigsberg said that Ansible Container will have its own release schedule separate from the Ansible core.

"It is evolving quickly right now, so we want to give it the freedom to move fast as more people get involved," DeKoenigsberg said.

Red Hat is debuting a new Kubernetes module as well to further improve container orchestration deployment capabilities. There is already a Kubernetes module in Ansible 2.1 that is a community-contributed module from Google for basic management of existing Kubernetes clusters, DeKoenigsberg said.

"The Kubernetes modules that ship with Ansible Container are intended to bootstrap the Ansible Container project and are rapidly evolving," he said. "As Ansible Container evolves, we will decide on which set of Kubernetes modules we'll proceed with."

The overall intention with Ansible Container and the new Kubernetes module is to enable an organization to take their code and applications, and build an Ansible playbook that in turn will create a container image and provide its orchestration policies.

"Ansible Container, in its 'shipit' process, will create simplified orchestration policy artifacts [whether Kubernetes or otherwise] that can then be used directly for deployment, or can be further modified by the user as necessary," DeKoenigsberg said. "We see it as a starting point for users who are just starting to understand the demands of complex orchestration."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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