Ansible for edge remote Linux IoT devices

Ansible is an Open-Source software provisioning, configuration management and application deployment tool developed and maintained by Red Hat Software. Ansible runs on many Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, MacOS and Debian, and also spans into the realm of Microsoft Windows as well. As complicated as it may sound, simply, it’s a remote device management tool designed to remotely control and manage an edge device, which in most cases is a Linux computer.

How Does Ansible Work?

Ansible can act as an Linux Edge Device management tool that works from a central Management Node (a.k.a. Ansible Server), which can connect to the other edge devices through Secure Shell (SSH) tunnel. The Ansible Server can connect to those ‘nodes’ and push out a small program called Ansible Module, which is then executed within the nodes and cleaned up afterwards.

The Ansible Server node acts as the controlling node by reading the playbook and executing the tasks and plays listed in it on the specific groups of hosts, as described in the Inventory. Ansible Server monitors the execution of the modules on each host and makes sure that once the modules are installed properly, the unwanted files are removed during the cleanup process.

Ansible for IoT; Is it a Good Choice?

Ansible is primarily used in remote software provisioning, configuration management and application deployment purposes and is NOT intended to be used in Linux Edge Devices, although most of our potential customers have had interest in using it for the same. For the most part, Ansible executes the playbook, cleans everything up and closes the connection to the host after everything is done. Although, managing an edge linux device requires much more than that. Some of the few key drawbacks in using Ansible as an edge linux IoT device management tool are:

  • Ansible works through SSH connections, which means it does not require a constantly running daemon/agent service in your edge linux device. Opening such connections through firewalls are difficult to implement and to make things worse, a double NAT would cause the Ansible node practically inaccessible.
  • There is no native failsafes to address any SSH connection errors on nodes, therefore if a node’s SSH server goes offline for some reason, the Ansible Server will be unable to communicate with the node.
  • Running an SSH server in the edge linux devices can pose a potential security risk over time and if left unattended, the edge linux devices may be subjected to attacks.
  • Ansible does not offer Remote Monitoring, Location Information Fetching and Real Time Resource Monitoring and Data Logging features, which are must-haves for managing edge linux IoT devices.

And that’s where us, JFrog Connect comes into play!

JFrog Connect VS Ansible

We provide you with a dedicated linux edge IoT device management platform, which is specifically built around the customers’ needs revolving around managing their linux based IoT edge devices, plus almost all the features Ansibles offers. We have analyzed the customer needs throughout the years, and have been perfecting our platform to provide a better service to our customers by integrating,

  • Secure connection to their Linux Edge IoT devices with the JFrog Connect dashboard
  • Easy Device Enrollment, Grouping
  • Realtime Remote Device Health Monitoring (Resource Usage, Process Monitoring, Data Logging, Uptime, Deployment Status, Alert Facilities, Location Tracking etc.)
  • Straightforward, easy to deploy, secure Remote Update Functionalities with advanced customizations such as pre/post-update execution of scripts, along with Update Rollback functionalities
  • Customizable Alerts for Processes, Device Health and Data Logging
  • Tailor-made subscription plans to scale upto your needs in managing your edge linux devices
  • 24/7 Customer Support

And above all, a  background agent in your edge devices that can be configured to handle almost any unpredictable circumstances such as connection losses and update interruptions designed with the philosophy: “Set-up Once, Manage Forever.

Feel like moving from Ansible into a more complete solution, specially designed for Internet of Things? Try out our remote IoT edge device management platform by signing up for the Free Trial! 

JFrog Connect is a modern Linux-first IoT platform designed to efficiently update, control and monitor edge and IoT devices at scale.