Ansible Overview

Ansible is the #2 ranked solution in our list of top Release Automation tools. It is most often compared to SCCM: Ansible vs SCCM

What is Ansible?
Ansible is the simplest way to deploy your applications. It gives you the power to deploy multi-tier applications reliably and consistently, all from one common framework. You can configure needed services as well as push application artifacts from one common system.
Buyer's Guide

Download the Configuration Management Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2021

Ansible Customers
HootSuite Media, Inc., Cloud Physics, Narrative, BinckBank
Ansible Video

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DR
Automation Engineer at Fidelity National Information Services, Inc.
Real User
Top 10
Saved time as well as helped support compliance and standards

What is our primary use case?

It is used to support WAN network equipment.

How has it helped my organization?

Saved time as well as helped support compliance and standards.

What is most valuable?

The countless modules and products supported.

What needs improvement?

Error codes are not very descriptive.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.
Mohamed Ibrahim
Senior DevOps at RubiconMD
Real User
It saves time; it cut our configuration time

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for configuration management. We use it for patching and updating. We also use it to send out new configs to all our servers.

Pros and Cons

  • "It is very easy to use, and there is less room for error."
  • "Ansible Tower offers use a UI where we can see all the pushes that have gone into the server."
  • "For Ansible Tower, there are three tiers with ten nodes. I would like them to expand those ten nodes to 20, because ten nodes is not enough to test on."
Find out what your peers are saying about Red Hat, Microsoft, HCL and others in Configuration Management. Updated: June 2021.
511,607 professionals have used our research since 2012.
AB
Senior Security Engineer at Mindpoint
Real User
Its checking and validating ensures our packages are properly patched

Pros and Cons

  • "Its checking and validating ensures our packages are properly patched."
  • "Ansible could use more public relations and marketing."

What other advice do I have?

I like what Red Hat did with Ansible. They are keeping the community focus as a whole and building around the grass roots movement that Ansible started. They are keeping that and putting a fresh face on it. Tower is user-friendly too.
CB
Solutions Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Check mode enables us to verify that the config we have pushed is what we intended

What is our primary use case?

We use it both internally on our managed services offerings, which are new for us, and I've used it for the last two years in my customers' environments to help me with deployments, primarily on the networking side. We also place a big focus on source control and the software development lifecycle.

Pros and Cons

  • "The biggest thing I liked about Ansible is the check mode so that we can verify, after we've pushed, that the config there is actually what we intended."

    What other advice do I have?

    Another thing that I've been doing is mentoring teams on how to use Ansible. Ironically, I've been mentoring the server teams, which is where I worked in the first part of my career. I was more on the server side: Windows, a little bit of Linux. But I find it's so easy to use that it's more about the concepts and the Ansible language. I saw a very interesting use case where Harvard University Online essentially does its entire deployment using Ansible end-to-end, with native infrastructure. That is geared to a lot of things we do within our managed services. I knew that was possible, but…
    MK
    Senior Systems at a government with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    I like the automation because it is a time saver

    Pros and Cons

    • "I like being able to control multiple systems and push out updates quickly with just a couple of clicks of a button and commands. I like the automation because it is a time saver."
    • "I have seen indications that the documentation needs improvement. They are providing a "How to Improve Your Documentation" presentation at this conference."
    Keith Rhea
    Security Engineer at MindPoint Group
    Real User
    Top 20
    It increases our company's efficiency, automating all the simple tasks which used to take hours of somebody's time

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is automating security compliance tasks. It has met our expectations. Automating security compliance tasks is what drew us towards the product initially. It definitely checked the boxes for what we needed to be able to implement.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It increases our company's efficiency, automating all the simple tasks which used to take hours of somebody's time.

    What is most valuable?

    It was easy to read and learn. It is a YAML-based syntax, which makes it easily understand and pick up. 

    What needs improvement?

    The user interface on the Ansible Tower product could be better, but it is functional.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    One to three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the

    Yogesh_Sharma
    Senior Data Architect at Crunchy data
    Real User
    Since it is agentless, it can remotely execute tasks to do its job

    Pros and Cons

    • "It is agentless. I don't have to think about which client system my unit has understanding in or not, because I can execute from my system. It will go and configure it, and any module that it is looking for will be shipped out."
    • "Documentation could be improved. Many times, if I'm looking for something, I have to Google it in a lot of places, then figure out what the best approach will be. There are some best practices documents, but they don't give you the information."
    Shashank Jha
    Senior Software Developer at HCL Technologies
    Real User
    Since it is in YAML, if I have to explain it to somebody else, they can easily understand it

    What is our primary use case?

    We just started using Community with Ansible. We are trying to install agents to either a cloud or a local virtual machine. We are still in the starting phase as it has only been implemented for two months.

    Pros and Cons

    • "Since it is in YAML, if I have to explain it to somebody else, they can easily understand it."
    • "There are so many models that I don't have to create one."
    • "One problem that I'm facing right now is the mismatch between the new version of Python and Ansible. Sometimes it's Python 2, and sometimes it's Python 3. When things get a bit dicey, I wish that Ansible would solve this issue by itself. I don't want to have to specify if it is Python 3 or version 2."
    Chris Smolen
    Senior Network Engineer at ePlus Technology
    MSP
    It is all modular-based. If there is not a module for it today, someone will write it.

    What is our primary use case?

    The primary use case is network automation. I have been trying to use it to roll out new offices and update things, like NTP server changes. I would like to roll NTP server changes out with a couple of clicks instead of having to go and manage several hundred devices. I have been using the product since 2016.

    Pros and Cons

    • "Installing it is a PIP command. So, it's pretty easy. It is a one liner."
    • "It is all modular-based. If there is not a module for it today, someone will write it."
    • "Some of the Cisco modules could be expanded, which would be great, along with not having to do so much coding in the background to make it work."
    Eric Spencer
    Network Engineer at a legal firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    We have automated a lot of our firewall-related processes, on the network side

    Pros and Cons

    • "On the network side, I already have a lot of our firewall related processes automated. If it's not automated all the way from the ticket system, our network team members, our tier-one guys in India, can just go into the Tower web interface and fill in a couple of survey questions."
    • "It is a little slow on the network side because every time you call a module, it's initiating an SSH or an API call to a network device, and it just slows things down."

    What other advice do I have?

    I'll start on Cisco IOS stuff in Q1, 2019. I'm pretty excited to learn about the network engine today, here at AnsibleFest 2018, because I haven't looked at it at all yet.
    Logan Vig
    Co Founder at Limestone networks
    Real User
    It has made our infrastructure more testable. We are more confident in what we are deploying will work.

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it to deploy our infrastructure.

    Pros and Cons

    • "It has made our infrastructure more testable. We are able to build our infrastructure in CI, then are more confident in what we are deploying will work, not breaking everything."
    • "For a couple of the API integrations, there has been a lack of documentation."
    • "Performance has been an issue on larger environments, but it has gotten a lot better over the past two years."

    What other advice do I have?

    The documentations are great. Everything is pretty well-documented.
    SR
    Linux Administrator at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Will enable us to do urgent patches through a Playbook or module

    What is our primary use case?

    Our use case for it is as an automation tool. For the Linux side, we have very few automation tools. We do have Puppet Enterprise as a matter of fact, and we're looking at tools for automating our day-to-day operations, server builds, configuration management, etc. We've got a demo version of Tower. We've been playing with it, using it for patching. One of our first goals is to automate patching.
    EG
    Senior DevOps Engineer at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    It is very extensible. There are many plugins and modules out there that everybody helps create to interact with different cloud providers.

    What is our primary use case?

    You can literally automate everything. Whatever you want to do if you did it with shell scripts, you can do it in Ansible. There is also the ability to use Tower AWX, which allows you to store your variables in a hierarchy. If you're familiar with the Puppet product from more than six years ago, it allowed you to do inheritance on variables. Ansible made sure that they had that in their product. It's also not agent-driven. Therefore, you don't have the added extra bloat to your deployments. Just run your command, then get the code. You can deploy using packages on Ansible or you could deploy… more »

    Pros and Cons

    • "It is very extensible. There are many plugins and modules out there that everybody helps create to interact with different cloud providers as well."
    • "In Community, there's a lot of effort towards testing, standardizing, and testing for module development to role development, which is why Molecule is now becoming real. Same thing with Zuul, which we are starting to implement. Zulu tests out modules from third-party sources, like ourselves, and verifies that the modules work before they are committed to the code. Currently, Ansible can't do this with all the modules out there."

    What other advice do I have?

    It simplifies everything. You can see what is happening actively on your screen. Now, with Tower and AWX, you are able to see the output afterwards. You can set up cron through the web interface and see what happens.
    TE
    Senior Systems Administrator at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
    Real User
    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.

    Pros and Cons

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

    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.
    DT
    Software Engineer at Arista
    Real User
    It is quick to production. It has an API in the back which allows for integrations.

    What is our primary use case?

    Everyone gets super excited about when we show them the automation part of Ansible: * How can you orchestrate things? * How do you operationalize it? * How do you take it to a group of people who don't have the experience writing playbooks themselves nor experience with command line? Tower allows control for more people to use it and have some safety nets behind it.

    Pros and Cons

    • "It is quick to production. It has an API in the back which allows for integrations."
    • "The communication on it is not probably where it could be. We could use some real life examples where we could point customers to them and say, "This is what you are trying to do. If you follow these steps, it would at least get you started a bit quicker.""
    CM
    System Engineer at a tech vendor
    Real User
    I can quickly train new users on writing a Playbook, the code is very human-readable

    What is our primary use case?

    Our use case is to stitch together all the units, all the teams writing roles and Playbooks, and provide a central point for execution, and a way of managing what is executing against the infrastructure.

    Pros and Cons

    • "Having the Dashboard from an admin point of view, and seeing how all the projects and all the jobs lay out, is helpful."
    • "The reason I like Ansible is, first, the coding of it is very straightforward, it's very human-readable. I'm also on a contract, and I can clearly iterate and bring people up to speed very quickly on writing a Playbook compared with writing up a Puppet manifest or a Salt script."
    • "What I would like to see is a refined Dashboard to see, when I log in: Here are all my jobs, here are how many times they've executed; some kind graphical stitching-together of the workflows and jobs, and how they're connected. Also, those "failed hosts," what does that mean? We have a problem, a failed host can be anything. Is SSH the reason it failed? Is the job template why it failed? It doesn't really distinguish that."
    • "The job workflow needs to be worked on. It's not really clear to how you actually link things together. What they probably could do is provide an example workflow on how to stitch things together. I think that would be very helpful."
    Andy Brittingham
    Systems Administrator at Main Street softworks
    Real User
    I was able to take the old build manifest and automate everything

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it to manage all configurations and deployments.

    Pros and Cons

    • "It enabled me to take the old build manifest and automated everything. So when it came time to spin everything up, it was quick and simple. I could spin it up and test it out. And then, when it came time to roll production, it was a done deal. When we expanded to multiple data centers, it was same thing: Change a few IP addresses, change some names, and off we went."
    • "What I'm trying to figure out, personally, is, when doing mass updates, how I can parallelize that a little bit better. It seems right now - and maybe, it's a shortcoming on my end - that I run through one set of servers, and then another set of servers, ad then another set of servers, but it seems like I could throw a lot of these checks out. Different types of servers, like web servers and DB servers, if I could parallelize that a little bit to make everything run a little bit more efficiently, that would help."

    What other advice do I have?

    We mostly run everything CentOS, and do the Community edition.
    JoeGarcia
    Principal Engineer at CyberArk
    Real User
    The user interface is well-built and very easy to navigate around

    Pros and Cons

    • "The user interface is well-built and very easy to navigate around."
    • "It can use some more credential types. I've found that when I go looking for a certain credential type, such as private keys, they're not really there."

    What other advice do I have?

    I learned about the solution last year through AWX. Surprisingly enough, I found AWX first, then made my way to Tower from there. From a security standpoint, we are a security company so I will always back my product over what these other tools do. From their standpoint, we do practice adding certificates and keys into Tower credentials. We use and trust it. My preference would always be to get all of the secrets out of all the tools and manage them in a central location. They have some room for improvement, but they're doing a great job as is.
    Sergey Kletsko
    Solution Integrator at Kpco
    Real User
    Top 20
    It does not require staff for deployment and maintenance. It just works.

    What is our primary use case?

    We have reached the stage where we really need to automate all our tasks. That is why we are trying to use Ansible Tower. We are trying to help our customers simplify their deployment process for deploying their private clouds, like Red Hat object tags. We start by the deploying the director Undercloud, Overcloud, etc. We are trying to develop automation for White box switches: Integration, deployment, NOS installation, etc.

    Pros and Cons

    • "The most useful features are the playbooks. We can develop our playbooks and simplify them doing something like a cross platform."
    • "It does not require staff for deployment and maintenance. It just works."
    • "The documentation for the installation step of deployment, OpenStack, etc., and these things have to be a bit more detailed."
    SS
    Senior Operations Engineer at a financial services firm with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    The "Organizations" feature allows me to give clear silos to different teams, but workflows and dashboards need improvement

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it for any sort of automation. We started using Ansible about 18 months back. But then we realized, as we expanded Ansible, that we needed controls around it. We didn't want people just running around crazily running Playbooks. And that's where Tower came in. We bought licenses and it's kind of worked out, though we expect a lot more. I did have a meeting yesterday with the Product Manager for Tower. I did give some suggestions. It's worked out but we've got more expectations, and I hope they work out as well. Some examples of the tasks we've automated include OS patching to begin with… more »

    Pros and Cons

    • "The Organizations feature, where I can give clear silos and hand them over to different teams, that's amazing; everybody says that it's their own Tower. It's like they have their own Tower out there."
    • "RBAC is great around Organizations and I can use that backend as our lab. Ingesting stuff into the JSON logs, into any sort of logging collector; it works with Splunk and there are other collectors as well. It supports Sumo and that helps, I can go create reports in Sumo Logic. Workflows are an interesting feature. I can collect a lot of templates and create a workflow out of them."
    • "We are not using the Dashboard a lot because we have higher expectations from it. The default Dashboard from Tower doesn't give that much information. We really want to get down into more than if the job succeeded or what was the percentage of success. We want to get down to task-level success. If, in a job, there are ten tasks, we want to see this task was a success, and this was not, and how many were not. That's the kind of granularity we are looking for, that Tower does not give right now."
    • "There could be more stuff in the workflows. I hope that if I have ten templates with different services on it, workflow could auto-populate all the template-based services."

    What other advice do I have?

    In addition to the developers who use it most, we hand over job access to different teams. Security needs some data, we clear jobs for them, we hand it over to them. But most of it is with Operations and the Development team. I rate it a seven out of ten because there are a couple of things which I expect from Tower which are not there yet. As I mentioned already, things like services being populated from templates, job tags are not there on workflows right now, I have to go to another tool like Splunk or Sumo or some other logging tool to look at graphs. If those were possible in Tower it…
    Marek Jeerzejewicz
    Senior Director Network Security at Oracle Corporation
    Real User
    This solution allows us to stitch a lot of different parts of the workflow together, but it needs better documentation

    What is our primary use case?

    Our group at Oracle has been using the product for at least a year. I have only been using the product for four months.

    Pros and Cons

    • "This solution allows us to stitch a lot of different parts of the workflow together."
    • "It needs better documentation."

    What other advice do I have?

    It's an effective solution for the problem space. In terms of learning about the solution and finding new ways to do things or solving problems, I think you are a quick Google search away.
    NA
    Student at StarHub
    User
    Top 20
    There needs to be improvement in the orchestration. The automation is the most valuable feature.

    What is our primary use case?

    We are still implementing it.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Ansible automation has benefited our organization.

    What is most valuable?

    I have found the automation to be the most valuable feature.

    What needs improvement?

    There needs to be improvement in the orchestration.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Still implementing.
    Monika Agrawal
    User at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Consultant
    Simplifies maintaining configuration across environments, but lacks robust documentation

    What is our primary use case?

    We are using Ansible to automate the infra for various companies in the ASEAN region. The tasks include the creation of virtual machines, provisioning volumes/disks, database installation, user creation, and configuration. The environment includes Linux boxes and Nutanix for software-defined storage.

    Pros and Cons

    • "Ansible Galaxy is helpful for roles and Git Submodules: No dependency in managing playbooks. Also, fact caching in redis for host/role grp information speeds up execution. Finally, variable management is easy."

      What other advice do I have?

      Ansible is fast to deploy and develop in. I rate it a seven out of 10, for now. It doesn't work well with large-scale infra. Also, as I am a relative beginner (I have been working on Ansible for 6 months, mainly for automation) and the lack of documentation is an issue.
      it_user870588
      User at Huawei Technologies
      Vendor
      Role-based access control and agentless architecture are the main features, but the cost is high

      What is our primary use case?

      1600 host environment, which is mainly used for software updates. As a production environment, it is used for security compliance.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We are still implementing it. I have used it in a very small environment (10 hosts), and it performed well.

      What is most valuable?

      Role-based access control and agentless architecture are the main features which may attract users. It is also easy to learn.  Ansible Tower provides a GUI, which is an enhancement, and a well-liked feature by operation teams.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Still implementing.

      What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

      The cost is high but it sill works well.
      BW
      Systems Engineer with 1,001-5,000 employees
      User
      There are no agents by default, so adding a new server is a couple lines of configuration

      Pros and Cons

      • "There are no agents by default, so adding a new server is a matter of a couple lines of configuration (on a new server and the configuration master)."
      • "Because Ansible is establishing SSH sessions to perform tasks, there is a limit on scalability."
      it_user573504
      Senior DevOps/Build Engineer at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees
      Vendor
      Easy to maintain and support.

      What other advice do I have?

      It should work easily.
      ITCS user
      Senior System Engineer at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
      Vendor
      ​Agentless architecture, relying on SSH only. Speed can be improved, but it only can go as fast as SSH does.

      What is most valuable?

      Agentless architecture, relying on SSH only. Great documentation.

      How has it helped my organization?

      Provision and configure from nothing on Amazon.

      What needs improvement?

      Speed but it only can go as fast as SSH does.

      What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

      6 months

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      No.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      A little slow.

      Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

      Used S before. Switched because of coworkers and even if I find SaltStack easier to learn, the documentation of Ansible made me choose it over Salt.

      How was the initial setup?

      Not at all, just need to have general knowledge of SSH.

      What's my experience with pricing,

      ITCS user
      Consultant at a tech consulting company with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Consultant
      Easy, straight to the point for a non programmer. But it's a young product - improvement needed on the module side.

      What other advice do I have?

      If you are looking for something easy straight to the point for a non programmer this is what you need!!
      Buyer's Guide
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