You can now use Ansible for configuration management, deployment, and orchestration of Cisco UCS servers, storage, fabric, hyperconverged infrastructure and converged infrastructure as well as Nexus switches.

Guest Blogger: David Soper, Technical Marketing Engineer

Benefits of Ansible and UCS Manager Integration

Our new integration of Cisco UCS Manager and Ansible by Red Hat provides a software-defined approach to the management of the entire hardware and software stack. This solutions delivers some significant benefits. You can to orchestrate all of the steps needed to configure the full range of Cisco UCS, HyperFlex and converged infrastructure products. As a result, you to achieve faster build times, because the entire application stacks can be provisioned automatically in minutes. You can also automate UCS Manager policy, resource pool, and resource profile configuration and ongoing management including the ability to detect and remediate unintended changes.

Composing the Full Range of Cisco Infrastructure

All Cisco UCS servers and Cisco HyperFlex™ Systems are fully programmable infrastructure. The unified API makes it possible to treat the physical infrastructure as code. Unlike some competing systems, the UCS unified API applies to all platforms, so you don’t need composable infrastructure or a composable API to realize the advantages of Ansible for automating the provisioning of your infrastructure in minutes.

Figure 1: Overview of Ansible- UCS Manager Integration

UCS Manager allows you to create re-useable profiles that consist of policies established by subject matter experts. The service profiles are a software definition of a server and its LAN and SAN network components. They allow you to define infrastructure configuration and settings across servers, storage, and networking. The service profiles and policies created in UCS Manager allow you to create logical infrastructure from available resource pools.

How It Works

Figure 1 provides a conceptual overview of how Ansible, the Ansible module for UCS Manager, and the unified UCS API work together. Ansible allows the user to simply describe what they want the infrastructure to look like, and Ansible will determine how to “make it so”. It performs automation and orchestration of IT environments via Playbooks. The Playbooks are a human readable markup language (YAML) definition of a series of ‘plays’ that define automation across a set of hosts, known as the ‘inventory’. Each ‘play’ consists of multiple ‘tasks,’ that can target one, many, or all of the hosts in the inventory. Each task is a call to an Ansible module. Cisco and Red Hat have worked together to develop an Ansible module for UCS Manager. This module works with the UCS API.

I developed a video that provides a more detailed explanation of how you can use this integration. It’s worth noting that the video shows something only UCS is capable of – programming the infrastructure on UCS Platform Emulators that allows you to fully program and test Ansible playbooks on emulated hardware before moving to the real thing.

Click here to watch the video.

Ansible for Standalone Servers and Nexus Switches

You can also use Ansible to support all your standalone Cisco UCS servers and Nexus switches. This allows you to use one tool to enable greater automation and simplify daily tasks in your environment. Cisco has published an Ansible module for managing standalone Cisco UCS C-Series servers using the remote management frameworks in Cisco Integrated Management Controller (IMC). Here’s a link to a blog I’ve written on this topic.

The Cisco support for Ansible and the Nexus® 9000 and Nexus 3000 series switches use Ansible’s open and extensible framework along with the NX-API. The NX-API is a REST-like API for NX-OS based systems. Ansible modules make API calls against the NX-API to gather real-time state data and to make configuration changes on Cisco Nexus devices.

You can now realize the advantages of Ansible to automate all your Cisco UCS, HyperFlex and Nexus devices.

For more information:

Cisco UCS Manager Ansible Module Overview

Cisco IMC Ansible Module Overview

Network Automation with Ansible and Cisco Nexus Switches




Ken Spear

Sr. Marketing Manager, Automation

UCS Solution Marketing