Cisco Extends Ansible Support to Advance DevOps

Cisco Systems announced today that it is further embracing the open source Ansible automation framework on its storage area network (SAN) platform as part of an effort to extend best DevOps practices to IT infrastructure. The latest version of the Cisco MDS 9700 platform modules automates tasks such as VSAN configuration, device-alias and zoning configuration.

Adarsh Viswanathan, product manager for data center storage at Cisco, said the company has embraced the Ansible framework because it’s an open framework that is now being adopted by enterprise IT organizations to manage infrastructure in a more adroit fashion. The rise of cloud-native applications being developed with DevOps processes not only result in more applications accessing a common pool of data, but also require changes to be made dynamically to the underlying storage platform.

Cisco is adding support for 64G-line cards when they become available along with support for non-volatile memory express (NVMe) and All-Flash arrays. Cisco has also extended its SAN Analytics software to add support for the NVMe/Fibre Channel protocol along with existing support for SCSI/Fibre channel.

Viswanathan said support for Ansible will make it simpler for IT organizations to embrace automation at scale. Cisco has previously embraced open application programming interfaces (APIs), OpenStack and Python-based scripts. Ansible takes those efforts to a higher level by make available a declarative framework that doesn’t necessarily require IT operations teams to develop programming expertise, said Viswanathan.

IT operations teams are coming under increased pressure to provide developers with an IT experience that rivals cloud service providers. Frameworks such as Ansible make it possible for IT operations teams to make IT resources available on-demand to developers using IT infrastructure residing in an on-premises environment.

Friction between developers and IT operations teams is rising as DevOps processes are employed more widely within enterprise IT environments. Many of those developers have alternatively turned to cloud service providers to build and deploy their applications. However, many organizations still need to deploy applications once they move into a production environment hosted in a local data center. In fact, more than 70% of enterprise applications still run in a local data center a decade after the initial rise of cloud computing. IT operations teams that manage those on-premises IT environments need to provide developers with access to resources they can easily scale up and down as required.

Cloud-native applications based on microservices will further challenge IT operations teams as the number of application services trying to share a limited set of IT infrastructure resources only increases. In the case of Cisco, those limited resources are rack-based servers attached to SANs such as the Cisco MDS 9700.

Of course, not every IT operations team is going to embrace DevOps processes overnight. Instead, many of them will be exposed to frameworks such as Ansible as they upgrade servers and storage over time. The one thing that is certain is developers will continue to apply pressure to make that transition sooner than later as more organizations continue to appreciate the extent to which they now depend on software to innovate.

Mike Vizard @mvizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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