Red Hat today unveiled a technical preview of Ansible Lightspeed with IBM Watson Code Assistant, a generative artificial intelligence (AI) service specifically trained on domain-specific data collected via the Ansible automation platform.
At the same time, Red Hat is also making available an event-driven capability within version 2.4 of the Ansible platform that enables runbooks and other tasks to automatically execute when received from a third-party tool or application.
Both capabilities were announced at the Red Hat Summit and are part of an ongoing Red Hat effort to democratize IT automation.
First previewed within the Project Wisdom initiative launched by Red Hat and IBM Research last year, Ansible Lightspeed IBM Watson Code Assistant is based on a large language model (LLM) that was developed using Ansible data. Watson Code Assistant, currently in technical preview, is a service that automatically generates suggestions to improve code as developers create an application. IBM promised to make IBM Watson Code Assistant available later this year.
Red Hat is now applying that generative AI capability to the YAML code that DevOps teams need to create Ansible playbooks. IT teams can create a simple natural language prompt that will translate their domain expertise into YAML code for creating or editing Ansible Playbooks. Red Hat and IBM, however, will not automatically use the code from an organization to fine-tune their AI model without express consent.
Rich Henshall, director of product management for Red Hat Ansible, said as IT environments become more complex, it’s clear many are hitting a ceiling in terms of what can be automated using legacy custom scripts. Ansible Lightspeed IBM Watson Code Assistant, along with an event-driven capability, will make it much simpler to automate the management of IT environments at scale using a declarative framework, he added.
Ansible, for example, can now receive events from third-party tools, determine next steps and consistently initiate an automated response using Ansible playbooks. Ansible can also consume events from third-party monitoring, observability and IT analytics tools from providers such as Cisco ThousandEyes, CyberArk, Dynatrace, F5, IBM Instana, IBM Turbonomic, Palo Alto Networks and Zabbix with more to come, noted Henshall. Red Hat is also making available supplementary content for Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat Insights, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and ServiceNow, in addition to enabling IT teams to create their own custom integrations.
At this juncture, it’s not clear why more IT processes have not been automated using Ansible or other frameworks. Many DevOps teams continue to rely on custom scripts that typically don’t scale and are generally poorly documented. Any time the individual who wrote those scripts leaves an organization, it’s incredibly difficult—if not impossible—for the original scripts to be maintained, noted Henshall.
One way or another, it’s clear that a more scalable approach to IT automation is required, especially with the rise of more complex cloud-native application environments. It’s no longer economically viable for most organizations to rely on legacy processes that require a small army of IT professionals to maintain.