What is Ansible and What Does it Do?

Posted on by Mohammed Noufal
Reading Time: 5 minutes

In today's world, automation is essential. IT environments are too complicated—and frequently need to scale too quickly—for system administrators and developers to keep up if they do everything by hand. Automating complex tasks makes them easier to complete, making developers' responsibilities more manageable. Therefore, IT automation will result in freeing them up to concentrate on other activities that benefit the organization.

Ansible is a superb software tool that allows you to automate cross-platform computer assistance easily. 

What is Ansible?

Ansible is a Python-based, open-source, command-line tool for IT automation developed by Red Hat. It automates many manual IT processes, including provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, and orchestration.

Ansible allows you to orchestrate the complete application environment, regardless of where it is installed, and customize it based on your needs. Ansible requires no additional software or firewall ports to be installed on the client systems to be automated, nor does it require establishing a separate management organization. 

Developers, system administrators, and IT architects can use Ansible automation to configure systems, update systems, deploy software, automate daily tasks, provision infrastructure, enhance security and compliance, patch systems, and share automation across the organization. 

What Does Ansible Do?

Ansible modules are constructed in such a way that they represent the desired state of a system, which means that each module can define the actual circumstances of each given managed node. 

For example, if a system administrator decides all workstations should run Ubuntu version 22.04, Ansible is activated in a company. When its packaging modules discover that any nodes still use Ubuntu 20.10, they are upgraded to Ubuntu 22.04. Its packaging modules begin to verify the state of the workstations. 

Similarly, any workstation in an organization is upgraded every night using the software.

How Ansible Works

Ansible works by connecting to the programs, and you want to automate and push scripts that carry out instructions that would have been handled directly. These programs use Ansible components that are created based on the endpoint's connectivity, user interface, and commands. 

Ansible executes modules over standard Secure Socket Shell (SSH) by default and, if applicable, removes them when done. There is no need for extra servers, daemons, or databases, and users can use a terminal application, text editor, and version control system to keep track of changes. 

The diagram below illustrates the operation of Ansible.

In the diagram above, the management node is the controlling node (managing node) that controls the whole execution of the playbook and the node from which you run the installation. The inventory file contains a list of hosts on which the Ansible modules must be executed. The management node establishes an SSH connection before running the modules on the host machines and installing the product. Once installed, it uninstalls the modules.

What are Ansible Playbooks?

A set of complicated IT tasks that can be automated and carried out with little to no human involvement is called an Ansible Playbook. The hosts that make up an Ansible inventory are subjected to the Ansible Playbooks that are executed on them. 

Playbooks are Ansible code files written in YAML format. Ansible Playbooks provide a repeatable, reusable, simple configuration management and multi-machine deployment solution ideal for deploying complex applications. The playbook can then be used to send new configurations or confirm the configuration of remote systems. 

Example of Ansible Playbook: Once you execute the playbook, it will install the PHP and Nginx on the Host1 and Host2 servers.

- name: Play to Packages
    - Host1
    - Host2
  - name: Install php and nginx
        - php
        - nginx
      state: present

What is Ansible Used For?

Ansible for DevOps

DevOps is made simpler with Ansible by automating the integration of locally created applications into production programs. Ansible is the most widely used DevOps tool for the orchestration, automation, configuration, and administration of IT infrastructure. The benefits of Ansible in DevOps include the ability to adapt and scale in reaction to demand. 

Using Ansible to Manage Docker Containers

Docker is a high-performance platform for quickly creating and running containers on servers and local devices. Docker containers are comparable to lightweight virtual machines. Because of its simple design, Ansible provides a robust collection of capabilities and built-in modules that simplify building automation scripts. This enables you to build tasks and execute them in the environment of your choice. 

Ansible for Automation

The first step toward automating your application's operational service lifecycle will be automating any hardware deployment. IT infrastructures on bare metal servers, virtualization systems, and cloud servers may all be automated with Ansible. Additionally, it can automate the configuration of numerous systems, devices, databases, storage devices, networks, and firewalls.

Configuration Management

Ansible is a configuration management solution that is easy, reliable, and consistent. If you have prior IT experience, you can get it up and running quickly. Ansible setups explain basic infrastructure information that computers can read and understand. To begin monitoring machines, you only need passwords or an SSH key. 

Ansible Web Application Installation

Application deployment with several tiers is quick and easy because of Ansible. To manage processes, one needs only to define the steps in a playbook, and Ansible will figure out how to get the processes to the desired result. In other words, there is no need to manually configure apps on each system. Ansible communicates with remote networks through SSH and executes all instructions when a module becomes active from a control device. 

Cloud Provisioning

Hardware configuration is the first step in automating the life cycle of your applications. Ansible can install bare metal servers, virtualized hosts, cloud platforms, network infrastructure, and more. Users can set up the multiple servers required in the computer network during provisioning.

Security and Compliance

Security guidelines for the entire site can be utilized with other automated procedures, such as firewall software rules. The security information is immediately updated on the various connected servers when the security information is configured on the control device and used when combined with the playbook that goes with it. 

Ansible Usage


Ansible is popular among developers because it allows them to quickly set up and manage machines using "playbooks," which are easy-to-read declarative statements that can be stored in source control.

Ansible allows developers to deploy multi-tier applications rapidly and easily. To automate the systems, they will not need to create custom code. They will need to write a playbook outlining the tasks that must be completed, and Ansible will work out how to get the systems to the state that the developers desire.

System Administrators

System administrators frequently experience job stress as a result of long hours and performing repetitive tasks on numerous systems, but Ansible makes these tasks simpler to complete. Ansible can perform user-creation, service-administration, and software-installation tasks.

IT Architects

IT architects can manage the IT infrastructure by orchestrating, automating, configuring, and using Ansible. They use Ansible for multi-tier deployments because no agents or custom security design is needed in the Ansible architecture.

Final Thoughts

Ansible is an open-source configuration management and provisioning tool. Ansible operates on Unix systems but can also configure Windows and Linux. Playbooks are Ansible scripts that are made up of several modules. Ansible is a fantastic tool for automating activities across numerous servers to save time, money, and effort. Your organization will benefit from learning about what Ansible is, what it can accomplish, and how to use it to automate IT operations.

Avatar for Mohammed Noufal

About the Author: Mohammed Noufal

Mohammed Noufal is a B.Tech graduate with a decade of experience in server administration and web hosting. He is a father to two daughters and finds fulfillment in their growth. In his free time, he enjoys blogging, sharing experiences, and listening to music. With a strong technical background, family commitment, and creative outlets, he represents a well-rounded life journey.

Latest Articles

How to install Puppet Server on Linux (AlmaLinux)

Read Article

Deploying web applications with NGINX HTTP Server

Read Article

Email security best practices for using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

Read Article

Linux dos2unix command syntax — removing hidden Windows characters from files

Read Article

Change cPanel password from WebHost Manager (WHM)

Read Article