Ansible & Friends Newsletter

July 7, 2017 - Issue 64


Hey folks,

It's been a while since the last issue of this Ansible newsletter (almost 2 years).

I recently finished some big projects and wanted to catch up on what is going on in the Ansible world. So I started collecting that news for myself and realized that I was basically re-creating the newsletter in the process.

I've missed keeping up with the community, so decided to reboot this thing since I imagine there are others that also want to keep up with news in the Ansible world :-D

Previously the newsletter was called "Ansible Weekly" then "Briefs on Ansible", now I'm just going with "Ansible & Friends". Sounded more fun for this reboot :-D

Cheers!

-Matt


Ansible Growth

This was an exciting graph to see. It's the registered interest of tools at Config Management Camp:

Registered Interest per CM Tool at cfgmgmtcamp (Credit: @cfgmgmtcamp)

Status of open-sourcing Tower

(Full disclosure: I was contracted in 2014 by Ansible Inc to update and automate their Tower documentation toolchain)

This is often a hot topic. Tower is a great tool for those companies that need its powerful features and where the benefits justify the cost. Other companies only need a few of Tower's features and so they can't justify paying the full cost. For those companies, there are 2 options:

Red Hat has a history of open-sourcing projects successfully. After their acquisition of Ansible, there was an announcement by someone at some conference that Tower would be open-sourced. I forgot the details, and this newsletter issue is already taking too much time to write, so I'm going to be lazy with my research here ;)

Anyway, last month there were again rumors, rumors-of-confirmations and rumors-of-rumors-of-rumors-of-confirmations that surfaced at AnsibleFest in London and on Twitter. From what I can tell it is "months" to "several years" away.

One does not simply open source Ansible Tower (Credit: René Moser)

"Open Tower will have all the features of @ansible Tower. Open Tower to closed Tower will be similar to what is @fedora to #RHEL."
-Strahinja Kustudic (who attended the most recent AnsibleFest)

Update: Strahinja sent me more details: "Just so you know that information came directly from Matthew Jones @matburt, Lead Ansible Tower developer, while I was chatting with him during a break. He also told me that he is currently working on Open Tower and that it's still not finished on devs side, but it's getting close. He couldn't tell me the date of release, but he said that even when he is done, that it will take some time for it to pass through Red Hat management and everything, but I more understood him that it will be months, not years, especially since a lot of other devs were telling me Open Tower is coming."

Open Tower is exciting for the community, but also for Red Hat and for growing the Ansible ecosystem. At first I was a little confused at Red Hat cutting off the revenue stream from a product they've invested so much time, money, and sweat into. But then I remembered that it's been a successful business model for many of the other products they've open-sourced.

Of course, this model takes a leap of faith and there is risk involved, so I understand Red Hat wanting to take the time to get it right. Naturally it's a bit frustrating for the Open Tower enthusiasts to wait for it, but that's what cryogenic chambers were invented for right? ;-)

Reminder: Tower is free for up to 10 nodes. If you're small enough, this is a good case for using the vertical scaling "hack". By scaling vertically as far as you can before going horizontal, you can buy yourself simplicity and also pay less for any software that is on a per-node license. So there's no need to wait if you have under 10 servers, you can use Tower right now for free.

Alternate/partial solutions for Tower

When Tower isn't a good fit for a company, what do they use? Well, there are a few options that offer a subset of features or alternate functionality. I won't go into depth here, but here are a few that people use:

Rumored:

Level Up

Ansible Module Development by Example
By Thomas Stringer

Exploiting Ansible logs with Callback Plugins
By Mathieu Corbin

Community Heroes

I use the word 'Hero' very rarely. It's so overused, but there are some folks in the community that have made some amazing contributions and I want to at least acknowledge them here. I'm sure I've missed some people (sorry!), but these are the people that have been consistently on my radar as huge value contributors. There are heroes on the Ansible team too of course, but they are often publicly recognized, so I'm focusing on the community heroes here ;-)

AnsibleFest

Recap of AnsibleFest London 2017 - By Sean Jones. (Unfortunately the text/background contrast is quite bad on the site, so you might want to use this link for text only.)

Ansible Updates

Using Inventory Directories and Multiple Inventory Sources - very cool recent feature. I haven't needed to use it yet, but it provides some nice flexibility.

Ansible Container - this has actually been out for a while, but it's progressing nicely. I generally recommend my clients avoid the added complexity and maintenance burdens of containers in production unless it's absolutely necessary, but when it is necessary, it'll be great to have a solution like this.

Ansible 2.3.2 RC1 via James Cammarata

Security

Red Hat Patches Three Serious Ansible Flaws in Its OpenStack Distribution
By Lucian Constantin

Calls for Contributors

Ansible Windows Sprint - this started on July 4, so if you're interested, jump in right away!

New AWS Working Group - there's a need for you Amazon Web Services folks here.

Cowsay

Via @butforbot

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Feedback

If you have corrections or other feedback, please let me know at matt@hvops.com - Thanks!



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