Red Hat Updates Ansible Tower to Improve DevOps Workflows

Ansible Tower 3.1 update adds new multi-workflow playbook DevOps capabilities to Red Hat's IT automation platform, as well as enhanced search and scale-out clustering features.

Red Hat announced the latest iteration of its Ansible Tower DevOps platform on Feb. 28, providing new workflow and scalability options for enterprises. The Ansible Tower 3.1 release adds multi-playbook workflows as well as additional search and scale-out clustering features.

Red Hat acquired Ansible in October 2015 and has been steadily improving the DevOps IT automation technology ever since. The Ansible Tower 3.1 release is based on the open-source Ansible project's 2.2.1 update.

Justin Nemmers, product manager for Ansible at Red Hat, explained that the Ansible open-source project provides the automation engine that is central to Ansible Tower. He noted that in addition to the automation engine, the commercial offering of Ansible Tower includes a centralized API, which provides control, knowledge and delegation capabilities to Ansible automated environments.

Among the new features in Ansible Tower 3.1 is a multi-playbook workflow capability that enables organizations to chain multiple sets of disparate actions together. It's an idea that in networking is commonly referred to as service chaining.

"In previous versions of Ansible and Tower, this capability required a user to create a new playbook that modeled the desired workflow with tasks from multiple playbooks, check this new playbook into source control, then create a new job template in Tower to call that new playbook," Nemmers explained to eWEEK.

He added that the process was a somewhat involved effort that required the user to know how to write a Playbook as well as possess the skills and access necessary to check all the playbooks into source control, and then to create a job template in Ansible Tower.

"With this new functionality, it's now essentially point-and-click to connect different playbooks together into a workflow," Nemmers said.

Scalability gets a boost in the Ansible Tower 3.1 release with a new scale-out clustering capability that can help to further enable multi-playbook workflows.

"Tower clusters will now automatically load-balance individual Tower jobs," Nemmers said. "This includes jobs that are launched via a workflow."

With all the additional scale and workflow capability, organizations will also benefit from the enhanced search functionality that is now in the new Ansible Tower 3.1 update. Nemmers explained that prior releases of Ansible Tower only allowed limited sets of filtering in the Tower interface, based on a few predefined attributes.

"The new Ansible Tower search is far more robust in terms of how users can search," he said.

Looking forward, Red Hat plans to continue to improve both Ansible and Ansible Tower in the coming months. Nemmer said that with Ansible Tower, Red Hat will be adding capabilities that make it easier for entire organizations to use Tower as their primary point of automation control.

"As for Ansible, we're continuing to focus on delivering advanced network automation with our simple, powerful, and agentless platform," Nemmers said. "We'll also be adding another large set of modules in Ansible 2.3, with updates and additions to our Windows capabilities, additional networking functionality, and an expansion of a number of other platforms. "

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.