Ever since Red Hat acquired Ansible, I and many others have anticipated whether or when Ansible Tower would be open sourced. Ansible Tower is one of the nicest automation tools I've used... but since I haven't been on a project with the budget to support the Tower licensing fees, I have only used it for testing small-scale projects.
For smaller teams, especially when everyone on the team is well-versed in how to use Ansible, YAML syntax, and follows security best practices with playbooks and variables files, using the CLI can be a sustainable approach... Ansible Tower provides a great mechanism for team-based Ansible usage.
There are a lot of companies (mine included!) using Jenkins as a substitute for Ansible Tower, and this can work pretty well, but Jenkins doesn't integrate deeply with all Ansible's powerful inventory management, secret management, and playbook management. Tower also supports a lot more flexible authentication and role-based playbook permissions model which makes it a perfect fit for team-based playbook management.
To be clear though, Ansible Tower itself will still be a licensed product offering from Red Hat, but the code that builds Ansible Tower releases is open sourced, and is available in the AWX Project. According to the AWX Project FAQ, the best way to think of this open source model is in the analogy Fedora is to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as AWX is to Ansible Tower:
AWX is designed to be a frequently released, fast-moving project where all new development happens.
Ansible Tower is produced by taking selected releases of AWX, hardening them for long-term supportability, and making them available to customers as the Ansible Tower offering.
This is a tested and trusted method of software development for Red Hat, which follows a similar model to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
I'm excited to see the code behind Tower has finally been open sourced via AWX, and I hope to start using it for a few services like Hosted Apache Solr shortly. I'll be updating my book's chapter on Ansible Tower and AWX as soon as I'm able—and if you buy the book on LeanPub, you'll get that updated content for free, as soon as I finish writing it!
Getting started with AWX
I'm currently working on adding an AWX example to my popular Ansible Vagrant Examples GitHub repository. Read through the AWX example README file for instructions in getting everything set up, and read the AWX example addition issue for further development of the example (I'm working to make it run in more environments, more easily!).
I'm also building an Ansible AWX role on Ansible Galaxy (which is used by the Vagrant example); it's still in a pretty early stage, but should work okay. I'll hopefully get time to optimize it more in the coming weeks!
After you install it, you'll be greeted by this angry potato:
Log in with the credentials
What's up with the name 'AWX'?
Originally, Ansible Tower was called "AWX" — see this old blog post from 2013. And apparently that was kind of a short-hand for 'AnsibleWorks', the original name of the company that became Ansible, that became Ansible by Red Hat. Straight from the horse's mouth:
Loosely "ansibleworks". But nothing really.— Michael DeHaan (@laserllama) September 7, 2017
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