Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Is your organization using the right IT automation tool?

Jul 20. 2017
Damien Wong, Vice President, General Manager of ASEAN, Red Hat
Damien Wong, Vice President, General Manager of ASEAN, Red Hat
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By Damien Wong
Vice President, General Manager of ASEAN, Red Hat
Special to The Nation

Automation is truly transforming the world like never before! Thanks to new connected devices like the Amazon Echo Dot, we can now control home lighting and even order pizzas (well, if you happen to reside in the US), effortlessly using natural voice commands.


Similarly, more and more enterprises are taking advantage of IT automation, making it a key business enabler for today’s fast-paced digital economy.

Why is IT automation critical?

There are several major factors driving this trend. On the one hand, IT budgets and staffing are likely to remain flat this year with the current economic uncertainty, but on the other hand, employers are experiencing the most acute IT talent shortage since 2007. Above all, there is irrefutable evidence that enterprises are under increasing pressure to innovate, just to keep up with the rapidly evolving consumer behavior and landscape.

IT automation then vs. now

For technologists, traditional batch processing and static scripts are no longer viable. These old “deterministic” automation methods are unable to support the massive scale that technologies like the cloud present. What we need, urgently, is essentially a more systematic form of automation. One that takes advantage of cloud capabilities and simultaneously enhances business agility.

The good news is we now have a solution. Enterprise IT automation technologies like Ansible and platforms like Ansible Tower by Red Hat can tackle most, if not all, of these challenges. Combined, they enable users to perform important IT operations, including resource provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, and intra-service orchestration.

For instance, you can more effectively protect your organization against the cybersecurity threat du jour. With automation, not only can you patch all servers in your network, but you can also automatically remove those undergoing upgrade – temporarily, of course – from the load balancer and monitoring system, while limiting business disruption.

Pushing the boundaries with Ansible

Ansible is currently the world’s most popular open source IT automation technology, used by enterprises spanning industries and the globe. Unlike other competing technologies, Ansible is agentless, meaning it does not require software to be installed locally, and straightforward to deploy. Furthermore, Ansible is radically simple to use, thanks to its Playbooks being human-readable, which can be easily understood by everyone in the organization with a minimal learning curve.

However, Ansible’s true strength is in its Playbook support. Each Ansible Playbook contains instructions that define automation jobs and configurations. Further simplifying the Playbook authoring process are hundreds of reusable modules. They provide capabilities to manage resources for cloud, network and nearly any other major IT system component. Just for cloud computing offerings alone, there are more than 300 Ansible modules for integration with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and other popular cloud providers.

Unique Ansible use case and benefits

We have witnessed increasingly more success stories among the Ansible converts. One of them is Fatmap, a UK-based start-up that produces one of the world’s most detailed mobile 3D ski maps. That said, its application development process was highly complex and time-consuming. This was partly due to its heterogeneous network environment, comprising different Windows, OS X, and Linux machines.

Leveraging Ansible to automate Fatmap’s application deployment, the overall time to accomplish certain processes was slashed from 17 hours to merely 3 minutes. Ansible also provided markedly improved integration of disparate machines, plus more seamless automation of critical tasks across services and applications.

Ansible is now better than ever

At the recently concluded Red Hat Summit 2017, we announced two significant enhancements to the Ansible ecosystem.

Ansible integration with Red Hat Insights, a predictive analytics and actionable intelligence platform, now allows automated resolution of critical security risks. By dynamically creating Ansible Playbooks, organizations can dramatically minimize their exposure to past, present, and future threats – a game changer to combat increasingly sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.

The latest version of Red Hat CloudForms is revolutionizing cloud management, which incorporates Ansible automation to drastically simplify the required customization all hybrid and multi-cloud management platforms ultimately require. With native support for Ansible Playbooks, it is much easier for enterprises to deploy IT services across clouds, as well as automate a wide range of policies and processes. All these, and more, with no coding or scripting involved.

Red Hat’s new vision to automate enterprise

Automation has become an essential element of an organization’s modernization and digital transformation strategy, more so than ever for our increasingly dynamic IT environments. Ansible is a simple, powerful and agentless IT automation platform, which automates repetitive tasks via a human-readable language and is open source.

It defines and manages systems, network devices, applications, and tools, while reduces complexity by describing infrastructure and processes in robust Ansible Playbooks. By expanding native Ansible support to more of our portfolio, Red Hat is also uniquely making automated enterprise a reality and accessible to all organizations.

Ultimately, our vision is to deliver the ability to automate complex, cross-domain systems through a single technology. Meanwhile, setting the stage to usher a new era of heuristic IT automation using Red Hat Insights. The burning question is can your automation platform offers the same capabilities? Unshackle your IT department, and give them the power to innovate with Ansible. 

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