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Ansible update gets net automation for Cisco, Arista, HPE

The latest Ansible release brings net automation to infrastructure devices from Cisco, Arista Networks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks.

Ansible has expanded the capabilities of its namesake open source tool to perform network automation on hardware from Arista Networks, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks.

Ansible, which Red Hat acquired last October, introduced this week support for infrastructure devices running the vendors' network operating systems, including Arista EOS, HPE OpenSwitch, Juniper Junos OS and Cisco IOS, IOS XR and NX-OS.

Also, Ansible can take net automation to devices connected to Cisco's software-defined networking framework, called Application Centric Infrastructure, and open hardware running SDN vendor Cumulus Networks' NOS, called Cumulus Linux.

Ansible provides automation over secure shell, the command line interface and the application programming interface within the platforms.

In general, net automation tools provide the controls to supervise and carry out everyday management functions, which can range from basic network mapping and device discovery to network configuration management and the provisioning of virtual network resources.

Open source tool neutrality

Hardware vendors, such as Cisco and HPE, provide net automation tools tailored for their respective products. Open source tools, such as Ansible, Puppet and Chef, provide standard automation capabilities across heterogeneous hardware.

Those tools have increased in importance as enterprises deploy cloud computing in data centers. Traditional hardware management tools do not work well in such environments, which often involve different hardware and depend on newer infrastructure software, such as OpenStack.

Ansible and the other tools are also better at serving the needs of DevOps teams, a cloud-sparked work methodology that blends tasks once performed solely by application development or systems operations teams.

"DevOps culture remains a roadblock, and a lot of these larger vendors are looking for the small players who are out ahead to help ease some of the [hardware] integration problems," said Andrew Smith, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. based in Hampton, N.H.

The announcement follows about a month after the release of Ansible 2.0, which was a major release that took about a year to develop. The upgrade has more than 150 new modules designed to work with VMware vSphere and ESXi, and cloud architectures in Amazon Web Services, OpenStack, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Windows Server.

Next Steps

Deciding whether to buy or build network automation tools

Programming skills for network automation  

Net automation for a cost-effective network

Dig Deeper on Network management and monitoring

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