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Red Hat Makes Ansible Tower Easier to Use

Business users gain more granular control to configure and use Ansible Tower in this latest version, as well as other improvements.

Red Hat's Ansible Tower application just got easier for IT administrators to use, thanks to its new ability to work with multiple versions of the Ansible automation platform and its vastly improved integration with the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

The just-announced version, Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.3, will allow IT administrators to configure it directly through OpenShift, which was not previously possible. Version 3.3 helps users extend and scale automation across teams and IT systems, and provides centralized controls for Ansible infrastructure through a web interface.

Included in the improvements are a redesigned user interface which puts more information in front of users, such as more details about jobs and job templates as well as more information about inventory and credentials so users can find information more quickly. Also new is the ability to save configurations for any item on a job that is configurable at launch so it can be used later in a workflow or in a schedule.

Also new is the ability to reserve Tower cluster capacity for specific organizations, inventory or jobs, while new features in instance groups improve how capacity can be managed in Tower without having to restart a cluster, Red Hat said.

In addition, Ansible Tower users can now create tailored Ansible environments that include custom modules, custom libraries and multiple Ansible versions at the same time for different requirements, which previously wasn't possible. User feedback contributed to many of the latest changes in version 3.3. The new capability to use multiple versions of Ansible means, for instance, that application teams can stay on their trusted version of Ansible Engine while other teams can upgrade on their own schedules to versions that best help them.

The enhanced integration capabilities in the latest version aim to give administrators and IT teams easier integration management, improved authentication support, more granular control of LDAP and the ability to create tokens for third-party applications directly from Ansible Tower.

Justin Nemmers, general manager of Red Hat's Ansible business, told Channel Futures that this update will provide major improvements for business users who include the applications in their IT infrastructures.

"Previously you could not run Red Hat Ansible Tower [directly] on the Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Platform," said Nemmers.

Instead, to run earlier versions of Ansible Tower, businesses typically had to create a virtual machine or cloud instance, and install and run it there.  

Justin Nemmers

"It was possible for users to install it in a container or set of containers, but then they had to do all of that work configuring it on their own," said Nemmers. "With this release, we are doing it for them."

Customers will still be able to install Ansible Tower on a VM, cloud instance or bare metal if desired, he added, but the latest improvements will make other options much easier for administrators. Both Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and Red Hat Ansible Tower customers voiced their desires for the changes, he said.

The biggest changes are that Red Hat is enabling more granular access to use the applications, said Nemmers. All customers have different permissions needs, so administrators are gaining wider capabilities with the permissions they can provide in version 3.3.

And since some customers standardize on a certain version of the Ansible automation platform itself for their uses, that was problematic for those administrators because Red Hat Ansible Tower previously only worked with one version of Ansible, said Nemmers. The new Ansible Tower 3.3 will work with any version of Ansible, which removes that complication, he said.

Also improved was the inclusion of new capabilities that allow administrators to use multiple authentication sources in their deployments, such as Microsoft Active Directory, OAuth2 from Google or others, said Nemmers.

"Previously, it was one to one, so if you chose Active Directory, that would be only one you could use with Ansible Tower," he said. "Large organizations might have 10 or more Active Directory trees, so now they can do that. Now it doesn't force users to use just one. A single Ansible Tower 3.3 install can now have multiple authentication targets."

Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.3 is available immediately through ansible.com and through the Red Hat Customer Portal.

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