Ansible : Automation, Provisioning and Configuration Management

What is Ansible? Ansible is an IT automation engine, and a trouble-free model-driven configuration management and command execution framework. Made for multi-tier deployments, it designs your IT infrastructure by describing how all of your systems are interrelated instead of just managing one system at a time. Written in Python, Ansible does not use any agent. It makes uses the SSH server on the target, and no additional custom security infrastructure is required, making it easy to deploy. Ansible comes up with following uses: 1). Normal configuration management Creates system files through the medium of templates Manages software installation with the help of yum, apt, gem, or the like Manages services or daemons such as start, stop, enable, disable 2). Orchestration tasks Removing server from load balancers Disabling monitoring or altering Perform deployment of your code by git 3). Continuous integration Deploy code to QA servers Run tests and promote software ...

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George Jetson Automation: Chasing the Dream

“His job was one simple thing—press a button. That’s all he had to do; press one button and sit back.” – Joe Barbera I wanted to be George Jetson when I grew up. Back in the days when watching Saturday morning cartoons in footed pajamas was the high point of my week, George’s life looked as sweet as a bowl of Super Sugar Crisp cereal. Flying cars, robots, and a two-hour-a-day, three-day work week lightened even further by 100% push-button automation. Contrariwise, my first tech job out of high school was a classic study in manual labor. From 9pm to 5am, I was solitary “Night Backup Operator” for a small data storage company, lone man responsible for continuously swapping reel-to-reel tapes on and off a literal wall of old magnetic drives. It was repetitive, monotonous and boring, and the tapes were prone to jamming and tearing. A lot. One night ...

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Automation, Provisioning and Configuration Management with PUPPET

This is 3rd part of the multi-part series covering Automation, provisioning and Configuration Management. In this follow up article best practices for Puppet shall be covered. Why Puppet? While every system administrator comes up with more progressive systems to be managed, the automation of every mundane task is increasingly significant. Instead of achieving in-house developed scripts, it is necessary to share a system that can be used by everyone, irrespective of one’s employer. But undoubtedly, this is not possible manually. So, Puppet has been developed to benefit the sysadmin community in building up and sharing of all mature tools, which prevent the replication of a problem which is being resolved by many. Following are the key methods followed by Puppet: 1). It supports a powerful framework, and is responsible for simplifying most of the technical tasks required to be done by the sysadmin. 2). The sysadmin’s work is written in form ...

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PEBKAC Avoidance

We’ve all said it. We’ve all done it. We’ve all shook our heads at it. PEBKAC. Problem exists between keyboard and chair. User error. While generally applied to the end-user community – those folks who are considered technical neophytes by IT professionals – it can and should also be applied to those of us who have, at least once (admit it, come on, I know you’ve done it) fat fingered a configuration on a web server, a switch, a router, or some other network or application service. It’s okay. We’ve all been there – head down on the keyboard, a litany of words we wouldn’t use in front of our mothers streaming from our lips between enumerations of how long we’ve sat at our desk looking for the problem. Mine was a misconfiguration of route metrics in the now long gone Network Computing lab that sent traffic from one side ...

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DevOps and Security Are Compatible

When I speak with information security organizations faced with the prospect of moving to DevOps, one of the most common fears I hear is that this transition will degrade security of infrastructure and applications.  If you’re one of these folks, I understand this fear but you can rest assured:  when you do things correctly security will actually improve. One big reason security benefits in this model is due to improved alignment and tighter feedback loops.  You see, DevOps is about creating a unified, engaged team and doesn’t make it easy to fall into the “silo thinking” that traditionally leads to security as an afterthought. DevOps embraces automation and consistency, which benefits security by allowing you to add automated checks during coding to look for obvious security issues and flag things for human review (such as the linking of new libraries or the introduction of new third-party components that could add risk). ...

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Approaches to Application Release Automation

This is a guest post by Phil Cherry from Nolio A discussion of process-based, package-based, declarative, imperative and generic approaches to application release automation. Application Release Automation is a relatively new, but rapidly maturing area of IT. As with all new areas there is plenty of confusion around what Application Release Automation really is and the best way to go about it. There are those who come at it with a very developer-centric mind-set, there are those who embrace the modern DevOps concept and even those who attempt to apply server based automation tools to the application space. Having worked with many companies of various sizes, technologies, cultures and mind-sets; both as they select an ARA (Application Release Automation) tool and as they move on to implement their chosen tool, I have had many opportunities to assess the various approaches. In this short blog I will discuss the pro’s and ...

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