Ansible Up & Running – A Book Review

Just over a month ago, I purchased a paperback copy of Lorin Hochstein’s Ansible Up & Running book from O’Reilly. Encouragement from Matt Oswalt’s Network Automation With Ansible and Python workshop is to blame, as it gave me the bug to go deeper with Ansible. While Matt was able to provide an excellent starting point in half a day’s effort, I felt it was important to go deeper in smaller bites as I often do with books.

ansible-up-and-runningLorin’s book stood out for a number of reasons. Chief among them was the endorsement by Michael DeHaan, the creator of Ansible, in the form of a foreword. He implies that Lorin provides a solid perspective on working with Ansible and was one of the early adopters of the platform. Sold.

Ansible Up & Running covers much of the behind-the-scenes details on how the platform arrived into the state that it exists in today. Fireball Mode being replaced by Accelerated Mode would be one example. Additionally, much of the non-Ansible pieces – YAML construction, host naming, Amazon VPCs, and so on – make for interesting asides that offer a thirst for exploration along with use cases to stand up in a lab. The entire book is constructed upon Vagrant, resulting in a near zero investment for the reader to follow along.

I’ve enjoyed the journey to deploy a test application, Mezzanine, which begins in the fifth chapter after numerous background components are introduced, explained, explored, and pondered upon. The book is chocked full of code snipets and playbook examples, aiding the understanding of how to build out a proper environment with Ansible. There’s an entire chapter on making your Ansible deployment speedier. And an appendix that deep dives into SSH.

Attention to detail at this level is what makes Ansible Up & Running a great book. If you’re at all interested in configuration management with Ansible, or just curious how it all works, I’d suggest grabbing a copy.