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Juggling Ansible, OpenShift and K8s? This is for you: Red Hat couples automation to cluster management

'We’ve got the initial plumbing working' Linux distro bod tells our vulture

Red Hat is integrating its Ansible automation platform and Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes.

“We've known people use Ansible and OpenShift and Kubernetes together for years,” Red Hat senior manager Richard Henshall told The Register. “But here we get a bona fide integration between the two.” Typical uses would be to automate deploying system updates, configuring load balancers, or scaling server resources.

The integration is in technical preview. “We’ve got the initial plumbing working, so it’s exposed through Advanced Cluster Management (ACM),” said Henshall, referring to the company’s tool for controlling OpenShift clusters and applications.

“You configure an Ansible Automation Platform source, which is based on the Ansible Tower API. You can then specify hooks to your workflows to access whatever jobs are running in the background.” The system uses a Kubernetes CRD (Custom Resource Definition), in effect an extension of the Kubernetes API, in conjunction with a Red Hat Kubernetes operator. “That is also a good foundation for future integrations from Kubernetes natives apps,” said Henshall, “using a way that’s natural to a Kubernetes application to interface with something based on an HTTP REST API.”

Can this work with other Kubernetes distributions, or just OpenShift? “At the moment it’s specific to OpenShift,” said Henshall, “but I guess the nature of Ansible it is could turn that way.”

The Kubernetes operator is currently packaged and deployed with ACM but from next year will be in the Red Hat OperatorHub, a catalog of approved operators. “ACM is just the first adopter,” said Henshall.

The Ansible part requires an OpenShift Content Collection, a package of Ansible modules which can be installed from a cloud-hosted catalog called Ansible Automation Hub. This OpenShift add-on has wider scope than just the ACM integration, and can be used for “any additional tasks people want to automate against OpenShift,” said Henshall.

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Red Hat has also now introduced Private Automation Hub, an enterprise version of the Automation Hub that allows organizations to create a custom respository of Ansible resources. “They can control which versions are used, and also add their own content,” Henshall explained, “giving them a place to build an internal community to help automation grow as a discipline.”

Ansible is an open source project and has “downloads north of half a million a month,” according to Henshall. It can be used for free, but as teams get larger people migrate to the Red Hat paid-for offering, he said, to control access and get support.

What’s next for Ansible? Henshall said Red Hat is not quite where it wants to be in terms of support for edge and IoT deployments. “Ansible is easily applicable to it. There are some things we want to do, to take better command of that.”

Virtual AnsibleFest is under way, and day two will include a focus on “Automation at the Edge”.

“It will be on where we see the future of technology, how we’re going to run it in a container,” said Henshall. “It’s what happens when you’ve got a device sat 3000 miles away at the end of an intermittent connection and the changes we’re going to introduce to make that a sweet spot." We can expect more news on this subject early next year.®

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