When automating your data center infrastructure, it is important to understand the various technologies that are available to you, as well as how the individual technologies can be used in combination to better suit the individual needs of your operation. For example, both Ansible and Docker exist as solutions for the automation of server software deployment and management. Despite this similarity in function, they each serve distinct purposes and have their own individual advantages and drawbacks. In this article, we will compare two technologies, Ansible and Docker, and explore how they can be used together in your data center operations.
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What is Ansible?
Ansible is a server automation and software deployment utility that allows users to quickly provision, configure, and manage a group of networked servers or virtual machines. This solution is great for users looking for an all-in-one answer to the question of data center provisioning, as Ansible does not require the use of 3rd party applications to handle the tasks of orchestration, configuration and management that go into any server automation strategy. Ansible is one of several different types of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) solutions that are available to users looking to automate their data center provisioning and software deployments. Other IaC solutions such as Terraform are less feature-rich and rely on 3rd party applications for various associated tasks, making them less ideal for those users looking for a comprehensive provisioning and deployment solution.
What is Docker?
Docker is a software deployment and management utility that uses containerized applications to quickly install a wide variety of software configurations. The containerized nature of Docker applications lends itself well to the automation of software deployment due to the fact that all related software libraries are included in the software container, reducing the number of steps involved in getting your data center operation online. Additionally, Docker can be installed on most operating systems, making it a versatile tool for software deployment and management across a wide variety of server environments.
Using Ansible and Docker
Now that we have a better understanding of Ansible and Docker, we can move on to discuss how containerized Docker applications can be deployed via Ansible. When writing your Ansible playbook, you can include Docker containers in your automation strategy to provide additional flexibility and auditability. As the Docker containers can be installed as discrete, self-contained units, you can quickly reconfigure individual applications without affecting other mission-critical software on the server. Additionally, if an issue arises within your infrastructure, you can more easily determine which application or combination of applications are causing the issue, allowing for easier troubleshooting and ultimately, less downtime.
To summarize, Ansible allows you to automate server provisioning and management, while Docker allows you to rapidly deploy software containers to the newly created infrastructure. This combination of technologies functions as a powerful solution for automating the provisioning of data center resources and the deployment of server software. While your operational requirements may differ depending on your goals, it is clear that Docker can serve as a useful tool in your Ansible toolkit.
Now that you know how Ansible and Docker can be used together, get started with Ansible today!