Red Hat Debuts Ansible 2.1
May 26, 2016

Red Hat announced the general availability of Ansible 2.1, the latest version of the agentless open source IT automation framework.

Ansible 2.1 introduces support for network automation, which helps further extend Ansible as a common language in enterprise IT environments--from the foundation of the network to container-based deployments.

Ansible enables developers and IT operators to more easily and quickly deploy IT applications and environments, empowering them to remove barriers between IT teams by automating routine activities such as network configuration, cloud deployments, and creation of development environments. Ansible’s modular code base, combined with ease of contribution, and a community of contributors in GitHub, enables the powerful IT automation platform to manage today’s infrastructure, but also adapt to new IT needs and DevOps workflows.

Ansible 2.1 includes many new features, including:

Support for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Azure - Ansible 2.1 now includes support for Microsoft Windows environments, enabling users to use a single automation platform for complete cross-platform automation.

New features include:

- Broader support for Microsoft Azure, expanding Ansible’s support for hybrid cloud deployments, including the ability to take advantage of Azure’s Resource Manager functionality.

- New Windows modules, enabling the management of Windows file sharing and the Windows firewall, further increasing Windows’ automatable surface area within Ansible.

- Easier management of domain-joined machines with NT LAN Manager (NTLM), enabling more secure authentication of domain users with just a username and password - reducing the need to configure and manage Kerberos on the Ansible control machine.

- Kerberos delegation for multi-hop scenarios, enabling better credential flow for legacy scripts and installations that need transparent access to domain file shares, Microsoft SQL Server, and more.

- Simple reboots with new win_reboot action, helping to solve the challenge of automating software installations on Windows platforms that also require a system restart as part of a workflow.

Expanded Support for Containers - Ansible 2.1 introduces a powerful new module, docker-service, as well as a rewrite of Ansible’s existing Docker modules:

- docker_service: consumes Docker Compose, enabling Ansible users to manage and scale multi-container applications.

- docker_container: Manage basic container lifecycle

- docker_image: Build, push, pull, and tag images for Docker

- docker_login: Manage access to Docker registries

- docker_image Facts: Inspect images, using the results as Ansible facts

With Ansible 2.1’s new docker-service module, users can use Docker’s compose language from the file system or by embedding it in a playbook. By using compose directly, the docker-service module allows deployment and scaling of multi-container applications within the context of broader Ansible playbooks, enabling the user to create complete workflows encompassing both container app deployments and the orchestration of network, operating system, and infrastructure found outside of the container environment.

Ansible 2.1 fully integrates the network automation support that debuted in February. By extending Ansible automation to the network, Ansible now enables network infrastructure to be managed in the same simple, powerful, and agentless manner that systems and applications already utilize. This helps network teams to take advantage of new deployment paradigms, including configuration automation, test-driven network deployment, and continuous compliance.

Ansible 2.1 adds more than 40 new core modules providing network automation support across a variety of network platforms including: Arista EOS; Cisco IOS; Cisco IOS-XR; Cisco NXOS; Cumulus Networks; Juniper Junos; and OpenSwitch.

Ansible 2.1 is now available via GitHub, PyPi, and package manager for most major Linux distributions. For users seeking more control, knowledge, and delegation for their Ansible deployments, Ansible Tower is available as a subscription suitable for teams ranging from small companies to full-scale, enterprise IT organizations.

Tim Cramer, Head of Ansible Engineering, Red Hat, said: "We are pleased to deliver Ansible 2.1, which continues to build on the great things we did with our community in the recent 2.0 release. By extending Ansible’s capabilities into Microsoft Windows and Azure environments and networking, our users can further expand their automation capabilities into their environment, helping to make their operations as hybrid as their IT."

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