I already know that i'll be criticized for this post, but i don't care :-) . Strangely my last blog post (which is *very* old ...) was about a puppet dashboard, so why speaking about another tool ? Well, first i got a new job and some prerequisites have changed. I still like puppet (and I'd even want to be able to use puppet but that's another story ...) but I was faced to some constraints when being in front of a new project. For that specific project, I had to configure a bunch of new Virtual Machines (RHEL6) coming as OVF files. Problem number one was that I can't alter or modify the base image so i can't push packages (from the distro or third-party repositories). Second issue is that I can't install nor have a daemon/agent running on those machines. I had a look at the different config tools available but they all require either a daemon to be started, or at least having extra packages to be installed on each managed node. (so not possible to have puppetd nor puppetrun or invoke puppet directly through ssh , as puppet can't even be installed, same for saltstack). That's why i decided to give Ansible a try. It was already on my "TO-test" list for a long time but it seems it was really fitting the bill for that specific project and constraints : using the 'already-in-place' ssh authorization, no packages to be installed on the managed nodes, and last-but-no-least, a learning curve that is really thin (compared to puppet and others, but that's my personal opinion/experience).
The other good thing with Ansible is that you can start very easily and then slowly add 'complexity' to your playbooks/tasks. I'm still using for example a flat inventory file, but already organized to reflect what we can do in the future (hostnames included in groups, themselves included in parents groups - aka nested groups). Same for the variables inheritance : at the group level and down to the host level, host variables overwriting those defined at the group level , etc ...)
The Yaml syntax is really easy to understand so you can have quickly your first playbook being played on a bunch of machines simultaneously (thanks to paramiko/parallel ssh). The number of modules is less than the puppet resources, but is quickly growing. I also just tested to tie the execution of ansible playbook withJenkins so that people not having access to the ansible inventory/playbooks/tasks (stored in a vcs, subversion in my case) can use it from a gui.. More to come on Ansible in the future