Ride the Ansible Revolution with Dell EMC OpenManage

The server management market is moving more and more to automation, and so too is Dell EMC, with the release of OpenManage Ansible Modules. Ansible is software that automates provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. It is one of the fastest growing DevOps tools in the industry with over 50 percent user base growth in 2017 and over 5000 repositories of content on GitHub.[1]

subway train in motion

With OpenManage Ansible Modules, Dell EMC PowerEdge users can easily automate updates of all your PowerEdge servers in a cluster without losing any workload productivity.

With the ever-increasing utilization of hybrid and private cloud services, web-scale architecture, and the growth in Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) type operations, a revolution is underway. Some say that this is the biggest transformation in IT since the mainframe era. Enabling new and agile models such as Cloud, Web-Scale or SDDC architectures requires a seamless interconnect of management solutions, tools, and processes to rapidly deliver scalable, on-demand infrastructure, while at the same time ensuring the high security, standards compliance, and reliability.

Delivering enterprise IT services on-demand and at-scale requires automation that is enabled and pervasive from day one. However, the reality is that traditional data centers are operated in a silo’d manner which makes IT processes resource-intensive. The result is that the dynamic workloads cannot scale without significant, manual efforts spent on re-provisioning and configuration of hardware infrastructure.

Moving to Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC)

To move beyond past historical data center management practices, enterprises are embracing DevOps-inspired initiatives: processes, tools and toolchains for faster deployment and easier management of their data center infrastructure. Management automation builds the path to SDDC by capitalizing on agility, elasticity and open interfaces provided by Next-Gen RESTful APIs that can seamlessly integrate with leading DevOps tools.

Further down that path, Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) is gaining prominence globally as it defines the configuration of compute, network or storage infrastructure through source code that can be treated just like any software. Dynamic infrastructure can be provisioned in a matter of seconds rather than days by just running the software commands, guaranteeing a consistent and compliant infrastructure every single time. Rinse and Repeat comes to the data center.

With the advent of vast numbers of servers operating at scale, this has been an effective way for institutions to efficiently use their staff, and this practice has spread rapidly from and through cloud service providers to all manner of industries, activities, and practices. One such solution which has gained significant usage in the last five years or so is Ansible (ansible.com), a solution that allows an IT administrator to define a given configuration once and then execute/automate at tremendous scale. Ansible lets IT admins treat their OS and applications as code, so that many typical IT tasks can simply be written up one time and then executed as needed.

What’s new from Dell EMC then?

Dell EMC has released OpenManage Ansible modules that now allow our customers to treat their PowerEdge server infrastructure in the same way as applications or an operating system: as code. The desired state of server firmware and configuration settings can be described and deployed using the OpenManage Ansible modules.

The modules tap into the powerful automation capabilities of the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) that is embedded in every PowerEdge server. That automation includes iDRAC REST APIs, based on the Redfish standard,  for server configuration, deployment, and updates. Each PowerEdge server’s BIOS settings and configuration are stored in a Server Configuration Profile (SCP) that is also available through iDRAC to the OpenManage Ansible Modules.

OpenManage Ansible Modules

Now, using Ansible and these OpenManage tools, Dell EMC customers can easily describe and deploy a desired state management every single time and vastly simplify the automation of complex configuration tasks such as BIOS settings, RAID configuration, or firmware updates.

For current Ansible users, these Dell EMC modules will be a natural extension of what they are already doing.

What now?

Dell EMC OpenManage Ansible Modules are open-source and offered to customers and community as stand-alone software. If you want to take advantage of the new features when they are implemented and want to contribute to the ongoing development, then you can go to Dell EMC Github repository using the following URLs and either clone or download the modules.


[1] https://www.ansible.com/blog/2017-community-year-in-review

About the Author: John Abrams

John Abrams is a product marketing manager for PowerEdge servers, with responsibility for OpenManage tools and technology and networking solutions. John’s prior work at Dell covers Linux operating systems and client systems marketing. His prior work experience include compilers, debuggers, and Linux BSPs for Metrowerks/Freescale and software marketing for BMC Software.