Red Hat adds Ansible to its stable

Nick Chase - October 20, 2015 - ,

Red Hat will add to its portfolio by acquiring Ansible, Inc. In a move that is “designed to help enterprises move toward frictionless IT.” Terms weren’t disclosed, but VentureBeat is reporting that the deal is worth more than $100 million, and Techcrunch says that “a source very close to the deal tells us that the price is close to $150 million.” The purchase is expected to close by the end of the month.

Ansible is a configuration management tool that enables users to specify tasks using YAML, a text-based format that is considered to be “writing in English” rather than actually coding.  YAML is a common format, also used by tools such as Puppet, which also does configuration management. It is designed to modular, and according to Red Hat’s release, currently ships with more than 400 modules that make it possible to easily perform tasks such as managing OpenStack resources. Although the learning curve is certainly less steep than technologies that require actual coding, it does still require familiarity with the syntax and resources.

Ansible, Inc. provides support for Ansible the product, fostering the open source project, providing support, and also selling its own commercial version, Ansible Tower, which provides additional functionality not provided in the open source version. Red Hat plans to continue both tracks, shepherding the community and developing and selling the commercial product.

Red Hat plans to integrate Ansible playbooks into its CloudForms orchestration product, which is aimed at the hybrid cloud market. It also plans to use Ansible in Red Hat Satellite, which currently uses Puppet. Joe Fitzgerald, vice president of management at Red Hat, told eWEEK that they have “no plans to change that.”

Ansible, Inc. currently has 50 employees worldwide, but most of the company works in Durham, NC, essentially down the street from Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh. More than that, however, Ansible co-founder and CEO Said Ziouani spent 2000 to 2010 as vice president of business development and sales for Red Hat. Two former Red Hat Fedora Linux project leaders, Greg DeKoenigsberg and Robyn Bergeron, also work at Ansible.

The company was started in 2013 with a $6 million investment from Menlo Ventures, partner Doug Carlisle, and, according to TechCrunch. TechCrunch also reports that other companies were approaching Ansible while Red Hat was negotiating a deal, which makes sense; earlier this year, Ansible made headlines by heading up an OpenStack initiative with Cisco, HP, CSC and RackSpace. That said, SiliconAngle calls Red Hat’s decision to buy the company “mostly a practical one.  The startup’s two larger rivals, Puppet Labs Inc. and Chef Inc., both boast a bigger market share and more outside funding than its humble $6 million, which would have made an acquisition that much pricier.”

And what does it mean for Red Hat?  Techcrunch says “Red Hat’s acquisition of Ansible is the company’s signal of how it hopes to expand further into OpenStack itself, as part of its wider ambitions in hybrid cloud management, OpenStack and containers.”


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