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Ansible Automation for IBM Power Systems

Joe Cropper and Paul Finley explain how AIX and IBM i clients can benefit from Ansible.

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Q: What’s Ansible Automation for IBM Power Systems? 

Major advances being made across AIX®, IBM i and Linux® on POWER®. Enterprises simultaneously need consistency and agility from all platforms in a hybrid multicloud landscape. Today’s IT administrators, developers and QA engineers want to streamline anything they can to save time and increase reliability and repeatability.

That’s why IBM has enabled
Ansible® automation for the IBM Power Systems™ platform. This includes AIX, IBM i, Linux and IBM Power Systems private and public cloud infrastructures. Now, IBM Power Systems users will be able to automate just about anything they can imagine using the same industry-leading enterprise automation technology: Ansible. If that wasn’t enough, enterprises already using Ansible in other parts of the data center (e.g., x86 and/or IBM Z® environments) can seamlessly integrate POWER into existing Ansible estates.

What's Ansible?

Ansible is a widely popular IT automation technology. Because Ansible doesn’t require installing any special software in your managed OS endpoints (i.e., it’s an “agentless” technology), it’s easy to get started with.

The key use cases for Ansible include OS configuration management, infrastructure provisioning—either on-prem or in a public cloud, application deployment, orchestration, continuous delivery, security automation and much more. Given its popularity and pervasiveness across the industry, thousands of Ansible modules are available that allow just about anything to be automated. Ansible is also highly extensible, so the automation capabilities can be easily extended if needed.

At its core, Ansible is based on open-source technology with an extremely vibrant community that’s constantly innovating and delivering new capabilities to extend its reach within the data center. Red Hat® also has commercial Ansible offerings for clients that require enterprise-level support. 

Ansible Content

In addition to its simplicity, another key contributor to Ansible’s widespread use is the breadth of modules available; a module is a unit of code that Ansible executes (e.g., installing a software package, starting an OS service, deploying a VM via PowerVC, etc.). As mentioned earlier, thousands of modules exist that allow just about anything to be automated via Ansible, which means less time that engineers need to spend writing boilerplate code, providing more time to focus on strategic initiatives. To that end, we’ve created an extensive set of both open-source (via Ansible Galaxy) and commercial (via a Red Hat subscription) Ansible modules for the IBM Power Systems user community, ranging from OS management to cloud management and everything in between.

AIX, IBM i and Linux on POWER

Because OS configuration management is the heart and soul of Ansible, we fully recognize that users demand a rich set of modules available for their OSes of choice. To that end, we’re enabling several Ansible modules for AIX and IBM i to automate operations such as patching (e.g., service packs and PTFs), user and group management, boot management, running commands and SQL queries, managing object authority, and much more. From a support standpoint, AIX and IBM i have commercial Red Hat subscription options available and Linux on POWER is common.

Private Cloud: IBM PowerVC

IBM PowerVC is the strategic infrastructure-as-a-service and virtualization management solution for on-prem IBM Power Systems IT estates. In addition to all of the great capabilities the product itself provides, it also opens several complementary opportunities for IBM Power Systems to be integrated with broader cloud and automation technologies. One of those technologies is Ansible. Because PowerVC is built on OpenStack, a subset of the community-provided OpenStack Ansible modules (i.e., no enterprise support subscriptions currently available) can be used to complement and automate several PowerVC operations (e.g., deploying a VM, creating networks, storage volumes, etc.).

Public Cloud: IBM Cloud

One of the key tenets of an effective public cloud strategy is a high degree of automation. Long gone are the days of submitting a help ticket to provision resources, waiting a few days (or weeks) and then finally gaining access to the IT resources. Instead, immediate access is expected—and as streamlined as possible. That’s why we’ve released a set of open-source IBM Cloud Ansible modules (i.e., no enterprise support subscriptions currently available) that allow any resource in IBM Cloud to be provisioned via Ansible, including IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers in IBM Cloud, allowing you to automate all your public cloud operations.

Fully Enabled for IBM Power Systems

Ansible is an extremely powerful automation platform—and we’ve fully enabled it for use with IBM Power Systems. Ansible simplifies and automates management operations with a consistent set of skills and processes across your entire IT landscape. Users can now provision infrastructure faster, automate OS tasks like patch management, and leverage industry-standard automation technology, all enabled by Ansible. 


Joe Cropper Chief architect, IBM Power Systems Hybrid Multicloud Platform


Paul Finley Senior software developer, IBM Cognitive Systems Software Development


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