February 14, 2023 - Words by Jasna Simončič - 4 min read
One of Slovenia’s largest financial services companies needed a solution to automate the management of its infrastructure. With a proof of concept, XLAB implemented production-ready deployment of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, helping the client take the first step on its path to efficient and transparent IT infrastructure management.
The client used various automation tools that were vendor-specific or even did things manually, especially when it came to Linux. While they managed Windows servers sufficiently, the situation with Linux servers was a bit different. They have never systematically tackled centralized management of Linux servers. They were looking for a solution to unify the automation of their infrastructure. Another major challenge was ensuring compliance, since as a financial services company they are subject to constant internal and external audits.
We helped the client with the first steps towards automation with the proof of concept and we decided to go on that journey with Ansible Automation Platform, as it is easy to use and efficiently solves these challenges. With Ansible they end up with only one tool and achieve transparency and efficiency across departments within the organization, even beyond IT. To achieve that, we have:
Deployed the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform
We have provisioned Ansible Automation Platform in the client’s environment. We installed the platform, configured users and their roles, and imported all relevant content so they could automate their infrastructure.
Automated provisioning of Linux virtual machines
Previously, the client used shell scripts and manual work to provision new Linux virtual machines. To speed up the process, we automated all relevant steps to configure the required operating system settings, install baseline packages and create initial users.
Ensured data access to servers from existing
infrastructure registry The client uses a specific way of registering its infrastructure resources. To avoid administrators having to manually select which server to execute tasks on each time, we developed and implemented a new dynamic inventory plugin to collect, filter, and group resources based on user configuration and integrated it with Ansible Automation Platform.
Compliance is a major concern for the client as they are subject to regular audits. They need to constantly monitor their systems to ensure they remain compliant. With Ansible, the company is now able to define security policies, integrate them with other automated processes, and deploy them across their infrastructure, eliminating the need to manually monitor each machine for security compliance.
Carried out basic training and handover of the Platform
After the successful deployment of the platform and implementation of use cases, stakeholders were trained in handling all integrated technologies. Training is an important aspect of technology adoption. Once the client understands what is possible with Ansible and their professionals are skilled to use it independently, we can determine what to automate next and push their automation further together.
This pilot project gave the client a production-ready environment with which to begin their Ansible automation journey. By automating the management of their Linux servers, they took a big step toward unifying the automation of their IT processes and infrastructure. When they extend automation to other areas such as networking and IT security, they will achieve transparency and efficiency across all departments of the organization, even beyond IT with one simple tool.
In addition to solving the compliance challenge, the main benefit they gained is the graphical interface that enables automation through simple clicks. Since automating tasks now requires no programming skills, it can be done by anyone, enabling better collaboration between teams and across the entire organization.
The way we work
No additional effort for client
We always make sure that the deployment of automation does not impose any additional burden on the company, which is one of the most common fears companies have. We simply reach an agreement on which processes should be automated, and then execute technical implementation on our own.
No workflow disruption
The client also did not want to make any significant changes to its existing legacy system during this first phase of automation implementation. This was easily accommodated, as our approach is not to tear down existing systems and workflows, but simply to build on top of them.
No additional specifications needed
Clients are usually concerned about how many additional specifications and detailed inventories they will need to provide before automation implementation can begin. The answer is none. In the case of this client, we demonstrated that we can automate processes no matter what information is available. When automating the overall configuration of the new Linux server, we took the existing script - no documentation or specification was available - and developed Ansible Playbooks to customize and automate the script.