A project manager's guide to Ansible

Ansible is best known for IT automation, but it can streamline operations across the entire organization.
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From application deployment to provisioning, Ansible is a powerful open source tool for automating routine IT tasks. It can help an organization's IT run smoothly, with core IT processes networked and maintained. Ansible is an advanced IT orchestration solution, and it can be deployed even over a large, complex network infrastructure.

Project management applications for Ansible

The Ansible platform can improve an entire business' operations by streamlining the company's infrastructure. Apart from directly contributing to the efficiency of the IT team, Ansible also contributes to the productivity and efficiency of development teams.

As such, it can be used for a number of project management applications:

  • Ansible Tower helps teams manage the entirety of their application lifecycle. It can take applications from development into production, giving teams more control over applications being deployed.
  • Ansible Playbook enables teams to keep their applications deployed and properly configured. A Playbook can be easily programmed using Ansible's simple markup language.
  • Defined automated security policies allow Ansible to detect and remediate security issues automatically. By automating security policies, the company can improve its security substantially and without increasing its administrative burden.
  • Automation and systemization of processes reduce project risk by improving the precision of project and task estimation.
  • Ansible can update applications, reducing the time the team needs to manage and maintain its systems. Keeping applications updated can be a constant time sink, and failing to update applications reduces overall security and productivity.

Ansible's core benefits

There are many IT solutions for automating tasks or managing IT infrastructure. But Ansible is so popular because of its advantages over other IT automation solutions:

  1. Ansible is free. As an open source solution, you don't have to pay for Ansible. Many commercial products require per-seat licensing or annual licensing subscriptions, which can add up.
  2. Ansible doesn't require an agent. It can be installed server-side only, requiring less interaction from end users. Other solutions require both server-side and endpoint installations, which takes a significant amount of time to manage. Not only do end users have to install these solutions on their own devices, but they also need to keep them updated and patched. Ansible doesn't require this type of maintenance.
  3. Ansible is easy to install and manage out of the box. It can be quickly installed, configured, and customized, so organizations can begin reaping its benefits in managing and monitoring IT solutions immediately.
  4. Ansible is flexible and can automate and control many types of IT tasks. The Ansible Playbook makes it easy to quickly code new tasks in a human-readable scripting language. Many other automation solutions require in-depth knowledge of programming languages, possibly even learning a proprietary programming language.
  5. Ansible has an active community with nearly 3,000 contributors contributing to the project. The robust open source community provides pre-programmed solutions and answers for more niche problems. Ansible's community ensures that it is stable, reliable, and constantly growing.
  6. Ansible is versatile and can be used in virtually any IT environment. Since it is both reliable and scalable, it is suitable for rapidly growing network environments.

Ansible makes IT automation easier

Ansible is an out-of-the-box, open source automation solution that can schedule tasks and manage configurations over complex networks. Although it's intuitive and easy to use, it's also very robust; it has its own scripting language that can be used to program more complex functionality.

As an open source tool, Ansible is cost-effective and well-supported. The Ansible community is large and active, providing solutions for most common use cases and providing support as needed. Companies working towards IT automation can begin with an Ansible deployment and save a significant amount of money and time compared to commercial solutions.

For project managers, it's important to know that deploying Ansible will improve the effectiveness of a company's IT. Employees will spend less time trying to troubleshoot their own configuration, deployment, and provisioning. Ansible is designed to be a straightforward, reliable way to automate a network's IT tasks.

Further, development teams can use the Ansible Tower to track applications from development to production. Ansible Tower includes everything from role-based access to graphical inventory management and enables teams to remain on the same page even with complex tasks.

Ansible has a number of fantastic use cases and provides substantial productivity gains for both internal teams and the IT infrastructure as a whole. It's free, easy to use, and robust. By automating IT with Ansible, project managers will find that their teams can work more effectively without the burden of having to manage their own IT—and that IT works more smoothly overall.

Rich Butkevic
Rich Butkevic is a PMP certified project manager, certified Scrum Master, and runs Project Zendo at https://projectzendo.com, a website for project management professionals to discover strategies to simplify and improve their project results.

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