Ansible Review

Inventory management is a very simple, concise way to keep all that data together


What is our primary use case?

So far, the main thing we've been doing with it is using it to automate our monthly patching of servers. Since we have the whole inventory, we can patch this project's servers. We can use the exclude, exclude others, and, in one hour, do a patch that would take people one night to do.

How has it helped my organization?

Managing our inventory is a big pain point. Right now, we have Satellite, but we can tie it in with Satellite, so we can actually manage things and automate the entire deployment stack, instead of trying to grab things from tickets, then generating Kickstart, and using that to get things in Satellite. That doesn't work well. We can do the whole deployment stack using the inventory share between Tower and Satellite.

I've been doing patching from the command line, but for other people, it's nice to have the Dashboard where they can see it, have it report to our ELK stack. It's far more convenient, and we can trigger it with API and schedules, which is better than doing it with a whole bunch of scripts.

What is most valuable?

  • I like the inventory management. It's a very nice, simple, concise way to keep all that data together.
  • The API allows us to use it even for things that are not Ansible.

What needs improvement?

On the Dashboard, when you view a template run, it shows all the output. There is a search filter, but it would be nice to able to select one server in that run and then see all that output from just that one server, instead of having to do the search on that one server and find the results. It would be nice to just be able to view per-server. Sometimes the server has some problems that we're going to find in some places. It would be nice not to have to search for them.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with its stability or with bugs, so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think it will meet our needs going forward. We're going to put, not a whole lot of servers, just 3,000 servers, and that's going to be spread out. We're going to do an HA Tower. Right now, we're only doing 350 servers for our trial runs. We haven't had any problems with that, we just keep them all up at once.

How is customer service and technical support?

I actually haven't had to contact tech support on any issues. My colleagues have worked with them for OpenShift, but for Tower, we haven't had a reason yet.

How was the initial setup?

I felt the setup was really straightforward. The set up is with the Ansible Playbook. I just skimmed through that and I found that it does everything I need. And then I just ran it.

I did an upgrade two weeks ago. That was simple: Download the new one, run it. I did a back up before, just in case, but everything went smoothly. No problems.

What other advice do I have?

Puppet is the main configuration management we have right now. The goal is that Ansible will do all the administration and deployment, and do all things with a baseline, to meet our standards. Then Puppet is going to be taking care of a lot of the rest of the configuration for all the different projects.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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