Ansible architecture

21 feb 2024 4 min di lettura
Ansible architecture
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In terms of IT automation, Ansible stands out for its simplicity, versatility and powerful features. As organizations strive for efficiency and seamless IT operations, understanding Ansible's architecture becomes crucial. This article delves into the core components, workflows, and nuances of Ansible's architecture, providing a comprehensive guide to its architecture.

Introduction to Ansible

Ansible is an open source automation tool that automates software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. Developed by Michael DeHaan and acquired by Red Hat in 2015, it has grown to become one of the most popular automation tools, thanks to its agentless architecture, the simplicity of its YAML syntax, and its capabilities to facilitate DevOps practices.

Why use Ansible?

Ansible has become a go-to automation tool for many organizations, and its popularity can be attributed to several compelling reasons:

  1. Simplicity and ease of use: One of the most significant advantages of Ansible is its simplicity. Playbooks are written in YAML, a human-readable format, which allows anyone with basic IT knowledge to easily understand and create automation scripts.
  2. Agentless Architecture: Unlike other automation tools that require installing agents on managed nodes, Ansible uses SSH and WinRM, eliminating the need for agents. This reduces complexity and overhead on network resources.
  3. Powerful and flexible: Ansible's modular design, combined with a large collection of modules and plugins, makes it extremely versatile. It can manage configurations, deploy applications and orchestrate workflows across different environments.
  4. Consistency: Ansible playbooks can be run multiple times without affecting the state of the system, unless changes are needed. This ensures that configurations are consistent and reduces the risk of errors during automation.
  5. Community and Support: Ansible benefits from a strong community and commercial support from Red Hat, providing a wide range of resources, modules, and plug-ins to extend its capabilities.

The Ansible architecture

Ansible's architecture is designed to be simple yet powerful, comprising several key components that work together to facilitate automation. Here's a breakdown of its architecture:

1. Control node

At the heart of Ansible's architecture is the control node, a machine where Ansible is installed and runs. From this node, administrators and automation engineers run Ansible playbooks, which are scripts written in YAML that describe the automation tasks to be performed. There is no need to install any agents on remote hosts, making Ansible highly scalable and reducing overhead on network resources.

2. Managed nodes

Managed nodes are servers, systems, or devices that are managed and automated using Ansible. These nodes are accessed from the control node over SSH (for Linux/Unix systems) or WinRM (for Windows systems). Ansible does not require installing any agents on managed nodes, leveraging existing security and authentication frameworks for communication and execution.

3. Inventory

The inventory is a list of managed nodes that Ansible can automate. It can be defined in a simple text file or can be dynamically generated from external sources. The inventory specifies how to reach nodes and can classify them into groups for easier management and targeting in playbooks.

4. Forms

Modules are units of code that Ansible runs on managed nodes. There are hundreds of modules available in Ansible for a wide range of tasks, from managing files and services to working with cloud platforms and APIs. Modules can be run directly from the command line or via playbook.

5. Playbooks

Playbooks are the cornerstone of Ansible's automation capabilities. Written in YAML, they are easy to read, write and share. Playbooks describe the desired states of your systems, the tasks to achieve those states, and the order in which those tasks should be performed. They can include variables, templates, and control structures, making them powerful tools for complex automation scripts.

6. Plugins

Plugins augment Ansible's core functionality, allowing users to add custom functionality or integrate with other software and APIs. There are several types of plug-ins, including connection plug-ins to manage communication with managed nodes, search plug-ins to retrieve data from external sources, and filter plug-ins to manipulate data within playbooks.

7. API and extensibility

Ansible's architecture is designed for extensibility. The tool can be easily integrated with other applications and systems via its API. Custom modules and plugins can be developed to further extend its capabilities, making Ansible adaptable to almost any automation scenario.

Execution flow

The Ansible execution flow is simple:

  1. Define inventory - Specify which hosts to automate.
  2. Write playbooks: Describe automation tasks in YAML.
  3. Run playbooks - Run playbooks from the control node.
  4. Connect to nodes - Ansible connects to managed nodes using SSH or WinRM.
  5. Run Modules - Tasks run on managed nodes.
  6. Report Back: Results are collected and reported to the control node.

Advantages of the Ansible architecture

Ansible's architecture offers several advantages that make it an efficient and scalable choice for automation:

  1. Scalability: Ansible's agentless nature and lightweight operations allow it to scale seamlessly across large numbers of nodes, from a few servers to thousands, without significant performance degradation.
  2. Security: Using existing authentication and authorization mechanisms like SSH and WinRM means that Ansible adheres to security policies and practices already in place, improving overall system security.
  3. Reduced Complexity: With no agents to manage on managed nodes and using simple YAML for playbooks, Ansible reduces the complexity typically associated with automation tools, making them accessible to a wider range of users.
  4. Extensibility: The modular design and availability of APIs allow for easy integration with other tools and systems, making Ansible a versatile tool that can adapt to any IT environment or workflow.
  5. Efficiency: By running modules directly on managed nodes and collecting the results, Ansible minimizes the amount of data transferred over the network, leading to faster execution times and reducing the impact on network performance.

Together, these features highlight why Ansible is a favorite tool for automating complex IT tasks, offering both the simplicity needed for quick tasks and the power needed to manage large-scale operations.


Ansible's architecture is based on principles of simplicity, efficiency and power. By understanding its components and how they work together, IT professionals can leverage Ansible to automate complex IT workflows, streamline operations, and achieve high levels of efficiency and reliability in their environments. Whether you're new to automation or a seasoned DevOps professional, Ansible offers a flexible and powerful toolset to address the challenges of modern IT automation.

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