Solutions for Orchestrating Infrastructure and Services 

Combining the capabilities of Ansible and GitLab gives you an excellent infrastructure automation solution for streamlining software provisioning and deployments while also boosting collaboration between your teams. 

In this article, we cover how the open-source application management tool and Git repository can simultaneously meet your software performance, standardization, and security goals. 

Benefits of Ansible for Automation 

Ansible is a popular open-source tool for configuration management, application deployment, task automation, and orchestration within IT environments. It lets you simplify and streamline various IT operations to make them more efficient and less error-prone. 

Ansible playbooks are excellent resources that provide consistent configurations across entire infrastructures. This automation serves two main purposes: 

  1. Reducing the manual effort required for repetitive security configuration tasks
  2. Minimizing human error risks while performing these complex, multi-faceted tasks that entail many dependent steps for which the order greatly matters 

Why Ansible?

Ansible stands out for its simplicity and minimal dependencies. Its agentless architecture eliminates the need for the installation and maintenance of agents on managed systems — making it lightweight and efficient. 

This separates Ansible from other management tools, such as Puppet or Chef, which come with the added overhead of agent management across systems. Ansible delivers organizations’ automation and orchestration without the complexity — aligning with the principles of efficiency and ease of use often sought in modern IT environments. 

Repeatability with Ansible 

Ansible’s role extends beyond initial setup and configuration. It contributes to continuous monitoring and enforcement of security policies. Through its automation capabilities, Ansible can continually run network security assessments on things like user access, device integrity, and application security. 

When anomalies or deviations from security policies are detected, Ansible takes immediate corrective actions, such as isolating compromised devices or revoking access credentials. The real-time response to security events aligns with high confidence in the stability of the environment. The solution provides a proactive and adaptive security orchestration approach where you can enforce policies dynamically based on advanced data analytics on contextual information and cybersecurity risk assessments. 

After initial configurations are in place, Ansible becomes essential to distinguishing normal from abnormal within the environment, and further, it automates the enforcement of the network security policies. 

Orchestration with GitLab

Setting up a GitLab repository for Ansible playbooks and associated application code is fundamental in integrating automation tools. When trying to uncover who and what is on the network and find tools to leverage for Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM), the GitLab + Ansible tech stack shines as a flexible and formidable solution. 

Hosting GitLab behind a virtual private network (VPN) can serve as a critical tenet of a stable architecture — ensuring network access is never assumed and is subject to continuous verification. GitLab further offers a robust role-based access control (RBAC), which you can configure to align with the organization’s security policies to ensure that only authorized personnel have repository and children project access.

GitLab for CI/CD Integration and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Management 

GitLab offers a robust Infrastructure as a Code (IaC) platform. It comes in the form of Ansible playbooks and related configurations — allowing for streamlined organization of Organizations, Groups, Projects, Repositories, and a Container Registry for customized Docker images and other tailored assets. 

These capabilities let you systematically manage version control, collaboration, and documentation of infrastructure configurations. 

Advantages of Version-Controlled Infrastructure Configurations 

Version-controlling infrastructure configurations with GitLab offer several advantages:

  • Changes to infrastructure code are tracked, audited, and reversible, which helps maintain a stable environment where you can monitor changes and updates in detail. 
  • Version control facilitates collaboration among team members, allowing multiple stakeholders to contribute to and review infrastructure code. 
  • It provides a historical record of changes to simplify the troubleshooting and rollback processes. 
  • It promotes development consistency, reliability, and security. 

GitLab CI/CD Integration 

GitLab’s CI/CD features seamlessly integrate with Ansible playbooks to automate the testing and deployment. You can configure CI/CD pipelines in GitLab to automatically trigger when changes are pushed to a repository. These pipelines can be customized to run specific tasks under certain conditions based on the current branch — ensuring that updates to enterprise cybersecurity policies, configurations, and infrastructure are continuously assessed for correctness. 

You can also configure GitLab’s role-based access control (RBAC) to ensure additional code reviews before deployment. This automation further enforces consistency in security orchestration for organizational policies and eliminates the risk of human error. CI/CD’s ability to automatically roll back changes in case of failures ensures the network maintains non-stop stability and security. 

Finally, CI/CD enhances traceability and transparency — letting you leave audit trails and reports on every change made to the network infrastructure. This level of control is essential in maintaining a robust Zero Trust Architecture where trust is never assumed and verification is continuous. 

Agility with Ansible and GitLab 

Agility is paramount in modern IT operations for organizations to adapt to evolving challenges and seamlessly transition across various environments and domains. GitLab and Ansible working together in the technology stack empower organizations to achieve such agility. 

An example of this capability in action is when you need to deliver rapid infrastructure scaling to support a sudden surge in user demand. The GitLab-Ansible stack allows for the swift updating of infrastructure code in the GitLab repository. 

Plus, with Ansible playbooks configured within GitLab’s CI/CD pipelines, you can automate the provisioning of additional servers and application deployments — ensuring the infrastructure can handle the increased load. With the version control capabilities, you can quickly reverse these changes if and when necessary. 

Automating Infrastructure and Services in Closing 

As your organization’s needs evolve, it can use the Ansible and GitLab stack to seamlessly transition to different environments, whether expanding to new geographic regions, moving from on-premise to the cloud, switching cloud providers, or some combination of the above. 

The GitLab and Ansible stack enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market demands, scale infrastructure as required, and navigate diverse IT environments with ease. This agility is a tangible advantage in an ever-evolving IT landscape.