Ansible Tower promises to play better with others, let everyone work at their own pace

Ansible Tower

Red Hat has opened up Ansible Tower 3.3 to the DevOps world, connecting it to the OpenShift Container Platform, and helping with authentication issues when working in concert with other tools. And since every team is different, custom environments are finally a thing.

If you find IT automation platform Ansible a bit hard to use and are looking for something extra on top, Red Hat’s commercial offering Ansible Tower might be worth a try. It consists of a REST API, and a web-based console to integrate into other tools and processes, as well as a web service. The latter includes a visual dashboard, role-based access control, job scheduling, integrated notifications, and graphical inventory management. An open-source version called AWX is available on GitHub.

But back to the release at hand: Ansible Tower 3.3 displays more information on jobs and job templates, lets users finally navigate jobs via projects, and retry on failed hosts only. Ops using the new version can also create custom environments to assign to jobs at organisation, project, or job level. Those can include for example special libraries or modules, as well as older Ansible versions, so that teams can upgrade at convenience without influencing others.

A bigger picture

To make interaction with other systems easier, Ansible Tower is now able to work with multiple LDAP servers at a time, and to map organisations and teams from SAML attributes. It is now also an OAuth2 provider and offers users a way to create application tokens, so that third-party applications can access the software as well.

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Once you’ve updated Ansible Tower, so-called Instance Groups can be managed by policy and be defined by a percentage of total cluster capacity. This way, you shouldn’t have to restart the cluster to manage capacity. Caching of isolated node facts (the IP address for a remote host could be such a thing) will help with automation of remote environments.

Speaking of capacity, Ansible Tower is now also available as a pod service on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. It is directly configurable from the platform and can be used to add capacity by adding pods, or scale Ansible Tower at runtime.

How much is it?

Pricing for Ansible Tower is tiered into self-support, standard, and premium.

The self-support version (up to 100 nodes for 5.000 USD/year, up to 250 for $10,000 a year) is recommended for small deployments, but comes with a limited feature set which for example doesn’t allow multi-playbook workflows, or integration with logging or analytics through export of job data.

The standard offering includes 8×5 support, and will set you back $10,000 a year for up to 100 nodes or $13,000 USD/year if you choose Ansible Engine. Mission-critical projects will have to pay $14,000 a year for up to 100 nodes ($17,500  with Ansible Engine) and 24×7 support. Anyone needing more nodes has to contact Red Hat for information.

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