Solving Continuous Delivery (CD) headaches with Ansible

The modern saying goes that “every company is a software company.” While maybe not in the strictest sense, most organizations do rely on applications, software, and infrastructure to ensure normal business operations. Read on to learn how modern development methodologies like Continuous Delivery (CD) can help you to increase efficiency, lower costs, and shorten release cycles.

 

Modern methodologies in the software development community such as DevOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) enable organizations to efficiently, effectively, and consistently release and deploy applications while lowering costs, shortening release cycles, and ensuring higher customer satisfaction.

While adopting DevOps methodologies and a CI/CD pipeline will most often deliver many, many benefits to an organization, they are not without their pitfalls and potential headaches. Here, we’ll outline a few common headaches DevOps teams run across with CD and how automation and deployment tools – like Ansible, for instance – can solve them.

Continuous Delivery Ansible

1. Downtime from multiple, manual updates

Oftentimes, updates from deployments can cause delays or even complete downtime to systems that cause operational drag and associated costs, not to mention a longer time to market. Organizations may further be performing these updates and deployments in a manual, step-based fashion, leading to a more time consuming, complex process subject to greater points of failure and human error.

With Ansible, we can solve this problem by performing multiple updates and deployments in an automated and comprehensive fashion through playbooks. Ansible playbooks can contain all necessary updates for delivery in one playbook, making it simple to understand, deploy, and comprehend with one click of a button (Ansible Tower) or through one line of code in the CLI (Ansible Engine).

2. Operating and releasing to multiple environments

Another challenge DevOps teams face is managing, maintaining, and releasing to multiple environments. Often, the disparity between environments in terms of use, tools, and states causes issues with releases, leading to more updates, errors/bugs, and overall delays in the development release cycle. Manually maintaining and updating the states of these environments can also be a chore, especially when trying to maintain the aggressive and expedient nature of release cycles in DevOps organizations.

How Ansible can help:

  • Ansible’s powerful Configuration Management capabilities can bring multiple environments to desired states/configurations, making development, testing, and releases easy, accessible, and secure
  • Ansible’s declarative nature means knowledge about the current state of an environment is irrelevant in performing Ansible playbook runs
  • Ansible has the ability to gather host/node specifications from hardware, software versions, and services in an environment and store/log them as variables for use in later playbook runs
  • Ansible’s idempotency means the operation performed is one that can be run several times without changing the end state beyond the initial state

3. Slow deployments

Manual delivery and deployments can be a drag and take time to complete. Pushing and delivering new code by hand is tedious, time consuming, and leaves room for error or something missed. Once again, Ansible playbooks can specify and call on multiple projects to be deployed all at once in one push, even calling on dynamic repositories/version control platforms to pull from. Through multithreading and SSH, Ansible moves quickly with a small network footprint to deliver all updates and deployments for your organization in an efficient and effective manner.

Ansible playbooks, as well as other components, are readily reusable. This means repeated, automated processes are easy to maintain and call time and time again, reducing or eliminating the need to craft these deployments from scratch every time a release is due.

 

4. Coordinating different projects and teams to commit and deploy

DevOps teams struggle to maintain commits to version control when deploying continual and unified releases. Ansible playbooks can call on multiple version control repositories in one run, merging multiple teams’ code releases and projects into a singular, unified delivery – all while configuring environments for those releases. The same can be said for pushing code to version control from multiple teams as well, ensuring all teams stay on the same development schedule. Once again, Ansible’s easily repeatable nature makes continuous delivery a breeze to keep up with an automated, consistent, and highly frequent delivery schedule.

Related: Learn more about Shadow-Soft’s Ansible consulting services

5. Leveraging numerous disparate tools to deploy & configure across an array of environments

DevOps teams operating in multiple environments and platforms often run into the issue of having to leverage multiple tools and plug-ins in order to manage, develop, and deploy to their environments. This can lead to downtime and confusion within teams as to what tool to use and create overall operational drag.

With Ansible and the included 400 plus native modules, this problem is virtually eliminated. Modules exist for a multitude of environments, tools, and providers – for instance, the ability to configure Amazon EC2 instances right out-of-the-box. Custom modules can be downloaded or written in Ansible as well, whether self-written or community-sourced, creating a high degree of extensibility and flexibility overall.

Final thoughts

Overall, the trend of adopting DevOps methodology and developing a CI/CD pipeline is ever increasing. With it, organizations engaging in Continuous Delivery face many challenges. Automation and orchestration tools like Ansible help tackle and solve many of these headaches and problems DevOps teams face day-to-day in a comprehensive, easy-to-use, and highly effective manner. Ansible provides you a powerful tool and capabilities to successfully manage, operate, and automate your DevOps team and CI/CD pipeline.

Need help evaluating Ansible? Shadow-Soft’s certified Ansible engineers and consultants can help.

 

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