Red Hat Acquires Ansible for DevOps IT Automation

Although Red Hat is picking up Ansible to complement its existing IT management tools, it isn't dropping its use of Puppet.

Red Hat

Red Hat today announced that it is acquiring privately held IT automation vendor Ansible, whose open-source platform is well-known and deployed in the DevOps community and is competitive with both Chef and Puppet. Ansible's primary product is its Ansible Tower platform, an enterprise-grade IT orchestration and automation system.

Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed by Red Hat.

Ansible is no stranger to Red Hat, as its co-founder and CEO Said Ziouani worked at Red Hat from 2000 to 2010 as vice president of business development and sales. Ziouani helped to start Ansible in 2013, with venture capital backing of $6 million from Menlo Ventures.

The Red Hat connection also extends deeper into the Ansible community, with Greg DeKoenigsberg, vice president of Community, having worked at Red Hat for nearly six years and is a former Red Hat Fedora Linux project leader. Robyn Bergeron, who is also a former Red Hat Fedora Linux project leader, currently works at Ansible as well, as a community architect. Ansible's headquarters is in Durham, N.C., which is relatively close to Red Hat's headquarters in Raleigh, N.C.

Red Hat is continuing to grow on multiple fronts and recently reported its second-quarter fiscal 2016 financial results, with revenue of $504 million, a 13 percent year-over-year gain. According to Red Hat, the acquisition of Ansible is expected to have no material impact on Red Hat's revenue for its third and fourth quarters in its fiscal 2016 year, which ends on Feb. 29, 2016.

Red Hat plans to use Ansible's technology to complement its existing IT management tools, including CloudForms and Satellite. The decision to acquire Ansible does not, however, mean that Red Hat will abandon its use of Puppet.

"We currently use Puppet in Red Hat Satellite and have no plans to change that, as it suits the needs of customers quite well," Joe Fitzgerald, vice president of management at Red Hat, told eWEEK. "Ansible fills a gap in our management portfolio by providing an agentless, easy-to-use solution for IT automation and DevOps, as well as managing the emerging world of OpenStack, network automation, containers and micro-services."

The reality is that multiple tools and technologies will be needed to deal with the growing complexities of IT management, Fitzgerald said. Although there is overlap for some use cases, Ansible and Puppet employ very different technologies and can address different needs for Red Hat's customer base, he said. As such, Red Hat's plan is to continue to leverage both Puppet and Ansible.

Red Hat already has a clear idea of where Ansible fits in. "We will integrate Ansible playbooks into CloudForms automation and orchestration," Fitzgerald said.

Looking beyond just Puppet, rival Linux vendor Canonical has its own Juju orchestration system that is part of Ubuntu Linux. In Fitzgerald's view, Ansible provides a competitive advantage for Red Hat against orchestration and management vendors across a wide variety of platforms, infrastructures and cloud services.

"Ansible technologies will be used across a wide variety of our offerings, from containers to OpenStack and DevOps to configuration management, and not just limited to the products within our management portfolio," Fitzgerald said.

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

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.