Red Hat revs up Ansible Engine, refurbs Ansible Tower


Red Hat has shipped updated versions of Ansible Tower and Ansible Engine this week, just meeting the deadline it set back in January for the latest versions of its automation and configuration toolset.

The changes tick most of the specific boxes sketched out by Tim Appnel, senior principal product manager for Ansible, back in January, when he promised changes to the way Ansible handles external “content”, and handles privilege escalation.

Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.8 features changes to the process for incorporating modules and plugins from external contributors. A posting announcing general availability of 2.8, explained “These changes allow for the creation of a new delivery method to users. This delivery method should not depend on Ansible maintainers to manage content as well as the platform code.”

The firm said that in future releases, content creators be able “to provide their content in a package format called a Collection.” which can be “installed in the appropriate location for execution whether that’s on the Ansible control node of the managed node. It promised further details in the coming weeks.

There are changes to the way Ansible searches for the correct path and executable name for Python on each target system, which should prevent failures on systems which have Python installed other than at usr/bin/python.

The firm promised “enhancements and additions to cloud and container modules to include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, podman, and kubevirt.” Also, Ansible Engine 2.8 will no longer provide or have a dependency on paramiko, but will use ssh by default.

Changes with Ansible Tower 3.5, the management console for Ansible Engine, include the not at all surprising addition of RHEL 8 support.

It also adds support for external credential vaults, in addition to its own credential store. Support external vaults include: Hashicorp Vault; CyberArk AIMl CyberARK Conjur; and Microsoft Azure Key Vault.

New Inventory Plugins should make it easier to connect to hybrid cloud environments. They include Ansible Engine Plugins for Azure, Google Cloud, and RedHat OpenStack Platform. Likewise, new Privilege Escalation Plugins handle plugins allow more granular control of what users can execute on managed systems.

One thing Appnel couldn’t comment on back in January was what effect the upcoming merger into IBM would have on the direction of Ansible. The takeover has been approved, and is due to close in the second half of this year. Which means the next Ansible releases could come under the new regime.