DevOps Zone is brought to you in partnership with:

Mitch Pronschinske is a Senior Content Analyst at DZone. That means he writes and searches for the finest developer content in the land so that you don't have to. He often eats peanut butter and bananas, likes to make his own ringtones, enjoys card and board games, and is married to an underwear model. Mitch is a DZone Zone Leader and has posted 2573 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Ansible: CM, Deployment, and Ad-hoc Task Execution All in One

04.18.2012
| 13461 views |
  • submit to reddit

I just found out about a really interesting open source tool that could support DevOps processes in an even greater capacity than the multi-tool stacks that are currently in place at many shops.

This tool is called "Ansible".  It basically gives you the functionality of three tools in one. 

  • Config management - (ex. Puppet, Chef, Cfengine)
  • Deployment - (ex. Capistrano, Fabric)
  • Ad-hoc Task Execution - (ex. Func, pssh)


It's formal title is "a simple deployment, model-driven configuration management, and command execution framework".  It's creator, Michael DeHaan, thought of the idea because historically he hasn't found any tools out there that can simplify these three related functions into a single tool that was any good, or simple enough.  Ansible, he says, is something you should be able to understand in 20-30 minutes. 

If you think this guy is just another hobbyist putting his code up on GitHub, it might interest you to hear that a previous open source tool he created, "Func", is currently being used by Tumblr.

Here are some more key properties of Ansible:

  • Dead simple setup
  • Super fast & parallel by default
  • No server or client daemons; use existing SSHd out of the box
  • No additional software required on client boxes
  • Can be easily run from a checkout, no installation required
  • Modules are idempotent, but you can also easily use shell commands
  • Modules can be written in ANY language capable of returning JSON or key=value text pairs
  • Awesome API for creating very powerful distributed scripts
  • Does not have to run remote steps as root
  • Pluggable transports (SSH is just the default)
  • Source host info & variables from files or external software
  • The easiest config management system to use, ever.


For those of you who haven't locked yourselves into the Puppet/Chef/Cfengine stack, you really ought to give this thing a look.  It has features that make it useful from an ops or app perspective.

An ansible is a hypothetical machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal communication. Ansibles occur as plot devices in science fiction literature.

-Wikipedia