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Today I attended AnsibleFest in London  – this is a paid event and one of two conferences organised by Ansible running in 2017.

The second one is running on September 7th in San Francisco More Info here: www.ansible.com

The event in London was held at the Intercontinental London 02

AnsibleFest London 2017

The day was split into two halves, the morning was a made up of three presentations and the afternoon was split into four tracks.

Ansible Essentials, Solutions, Tech Deep Dive & Networking 

I attended the Network Track, which is where my interest in Ansible is, this will form the focus of the rest of this post.

The day started with an introduction by Mark Philips – Senior Product Manager at Ansible

Justin Nemmers, General Manager then went on to talk about the amazing growth of Ansible and how Ansible Fext 2015 had <300 atendees and this year 2017 had over 850, a true indication of the take up of Ansible.

Some other growth facts were that there are currently 2,700+ unique contributors on GitHub and the third most subscribed to course on Red Hat Training was Devops 407 – Automation with Ansible 

He talked a lot about the amazing growth of Ansible for Networking and how currently there are 25+ Networking Platforms supported and over 260 Networking Modules and this is continuously growing.

More information can be found at http://www.ansible.com/networking/

He said there were three barriers currently being faced to Automation

  1. People, there is currently a massive skills gap which needs to be filled.
  2. Point Tools, most companies have a proliferation of point solutions and vendor specific tools
  3. Pace of Innovation, Automation requires integration across domains.

A quick survey was taken within the audience with these two questions

  • “Who is using SDN?”
  • “Whos is using Containers?”

More than double the hands went up for Containers and this is another massive growth area where Ansible is really helping to drive innovation.

Just says, “Ansible solves these problems where no other technology has ben able to do so”

Ansible is Simple, Agentless, Extensible 

Ansible 2.4 is due out in September and will be using Python 3

Peter Sprygada, Senior Principal Engineer in Networking then came on and spoke about Why Automate your Network?

The answer was

  • Plan and prototype virtually
  • Configuration Predictability
  • Ensure ongoing steady state

He also stated that a recent NetworktoCode Survey showed that Ansible was rapidly becoming the top tool to automate your network, coming in at #2 on the survey

Networktocode: NetDevops Survey (Nov 2016)

networktocode netdevops survey november 2016

Git
Ansible
Puppet
CI
NAPALM
Chef
Saltstack
Slackstorm
Anuta

He also showed the incredible growth of Ansible, as of Version 2.0 in Jan 2016 it only supported 7 platforms and 28 modules and now at 2.3 April 2017 it supports 29 platforms and 267 modules.

Current Network Modules List can be found here

The major improvement on Ansible was persistent connections which has improved playbook performance.

There were then presentations from Richard Henshall, Cheif Architect for Cloud at HSBC, Mohamed Ghaleb Program Manage at Siemens on how they use Ansible, but for me by far the most interesting was the presentation by the British Army on how they use Ansible.

Efficiency and Effectiveness through Devops

The talk was introduced by Lt Col Dorian Seabrook, IAS head of operations, British Army who spoke about all the issues they had in keeping up to date with all their systems and minimising downtime during patching windows.

Then Aidan Beeson, IAS Technical Architect, British Army (Adrian is not a soldier) but he attended AnsibleFest last year and at that time had never even installed Ansible.

Over the course of the next year he has turned around the operational effectiveness and introduced Devops to the British Army using Ansible and was here today talking about!

Network Breakout Sessions

The network breakout sessions ran in the afternoon and the room was packed with over 200 people in there.

The first session was presented by Tim Fairweather and Shea Stewart from Arctiq a specialist consultancy based in Toronto driving Network Automation forward using Ansible.

The second presentation was by Cisco on how to Automate the deployment of ACI with Ansible, they demonstrated how easy it was to deploy a new tenant and all associated components with one playbook. There is still a way to go with ACI as the playbooks were not currently idempotent but they are getting there.

The third presentation was from Romain Aviolat, a Cloud Infrastructure Expert from Kudelski Group he talked about deploying data centres using white box switches and Ansible with a virtually hands off ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning)

He then went on to demonstrate a very impressive system using Gitlab where he showed a fault in the data centre network and then updated a ticket, and added some code in Gitlab which then initiated a playbook to roll out the change in the dev system which was then tested and then once proved to be working initiated the next step to push this out to production. It genius and he nearly got a standing ovation for it!

Finally Rama Darbha from Cumulus Networks  talked with Jawhny Cooke Bluejeans Networks (on a remote video call, and as this is what BlueJeans Networks do – the call quality from the US was very good!)

They talked about how they have Automated the switch deployments and configuration management.

Ansiblefest Conclusion:

All the talks had a running theme and that was to just get started.

  • Start with a simple task and Automate it
  • Get all your configurations in one place
  • Use Git for Version Control
  • Use Ansible to document your network.

So I will certainly be attending Ansiblefest next year and looking forward to all the great things Ansible are coming out with.

If you want to learn about Ansible and what it can do for your network, why not follow along with me on my learning into using Ansible for Network Engineering, Devops, NetDevops or whatever you want to call it!

http://www.rogerperkin.co.uk/network-automation/ansible/

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