Ansible started as a simple side project in February of 2012, and its rapid growth has been a pleasant surprise. It is now the work product of about a thousand people (and the ideas of many more than that), and it is widely deployed in almost every country. It’s not unusual in a computer meet-up to find a handful (at least) of people who use it.
Ansible is exciting perhaps because it really isn’t. Ansible doesn’t attempt to break new ground, but rather to distill a lot of existing ideas that other smart folks had already figured out and make them more accessible.
In creating Ansible, I sought a middle ground between somewhat computer-sciencey IT automation approaches (themselves a reaction to tedious large commercial suites) and hack-and-slash scripting that just gets things done. I also wondered, how can we replace a configuration management system, a deployment project, an orchestration project, and our library of arbitrary but important shell scripts with a single system? That was the idea.
Could we remove major architectural components from the IT automation stack? Eliminating management daemons and relying instead on OpenSSH meant the system could start managing a computer fleet immediately, without having to set up anything on the managed machines. Further, the system was apt to be more reliable and secure.
I had noticed that in trying to automate systems previously, things that should be simple were often hard, and that writing automation content could often create a time-sucking force that kept me from things I wanted to spend more time doing. And I didn’t want the system to require months to learn, either.
In particular, I personally enjoyed writing new software, but piloting automation systems, a bit less. In short, I wanted to make automation quicker and leave more time for the things I cared about. Ansible was not something you were meant to use all day long, but to get in, get out, and get back to doing the things you care about. I hope you will like Ansible for many of the same reasons.
Although I spent a lot of time making sure Ansible’s docs were comprehensive, there’s always a strong advantage to seeing material presented in a variety of ways, and often in seeing actual practice applied alongside the reference material. In Ansible: Up and Running, Lorin presents Ansible in a very idiomatic way, in exactly the right order in which you might wish to explore it. Lorin has been around Ansible since almost the very beginning, and I’m grateful for his contributions and input.
I’m also immensely thankful for everyone who has been a part of this project to date, and everyone who will be in the future. Enjoy the book, and enjoy managing your computer fleet! And remember to install cowsay!