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Open Source Cloud: Article

Red Hat Spin-Off Simplifies Orchestration

It’s called AnsibleWorks and the open source automation software it’s promoting is called Ansible

A brand new Red Hat spin-off wants to support servers whether they're physical or virtual, on-premise or in the cloud.

It's called AnsibleWorks and the open source automation software it's promoting is called Ansible.

The Ansible open source project was run up last year by one of the company's founders to address limitations in Puppet Labs, a VMware investment, and Opsware, an Amazon buddy. Who knows, given some time, Red Hat may buy it.

Unlike its rivals Ansible is supposed to make server management radically simpler, way easier to maintain and more secure, providing a multi-tier orchestration system that handles deployment, configuration and management altogether, relieving companies of writing complicated pain-in-the-neck scripts.

Before coming out the other day, the start-up had already collected brand name customers on the forefront of Big Data, like Gawker Media, who are already reportedly using its 1.0 widgetry in production and at scale.

"AppDynamics uses Ansible for all of our OS and deployment tasks," said Thomas Morse, director of IT and SaaS operations at AppDynamics. "We have Ansible integrated with Gerrit for code review and do continuous deployment from Jenkins to all of our servers via Ansible playbooks every 15 minutes. Ansible is a great fit for us because of its ease of use and setup. Our team previously came from a Puppet and [Opscode] Chef background and love Ansible."

The company is now supposed to augment Ansible, which is based on a modular Python plug-in architecture, and provide Red Hat-like subscription-based services, support and training. It will also fund full-time developers. It's got a million dollars in seed money from VCs and private investors.

The technology lead is Michael DeHaan, who worked in Red Hat's Emerging Technologies Group and at Puppet Labs. The business side is covered by CEO Saïd Ziouani, who worked at Red Hat for 10 years on the open source business model and selling to the Fortune 1000. He just left Eucalyptus Systems, where he was executive VP, to chase this opportunity.

Ansible is supposed to break new ground in IT automation. It doesn't require agent software on remote machines; it uses the standard SSH channel by default for maximum security; and it allows configuration in simple text rather than in software code.

The company says it's particularly appropriate for those concerned about network security or daemons with root access; those with complex multi-tier environments, such as application server and database tiers; those who need to do rolling updates, work within outage windows or maintain uptime using load balanced pools; and those who want to avoid vendor lock-in by keeping automation content in well-defined data formats.

Saïd says it's a necessity for anybody with more than five servers.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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