New Course: Ansible Essentials

CBT Nuggets trainer Shawn Powers released his new Ansible Essentials course, which introduces you to Ansible, the open source automation platform used to automate application deployment, cloud provisioning, and configuration management, just to mention a few.

In this 17-video course, Shawn addresses IT pros who are looking to develop careers in DevOps, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to install, configure, and manage Ansible while learning about playbooks, roles, templates, loops and conditionals, Ansible Tower, and more.

We asked Shawn all about his new course (and a few other things).

Q: Why should companies train their IT professionals on Ansible Essentials? What value does developing Ansible skills bring to an organization and the IT pro?
Ansible is similar to the other DevOps configuration management tools in concept, but the way it’s implemented makes a world of difference when it comes to efficiency. There’s nothing to install on managed servers, and no central server required at all. That means it can be utilized from day one, and save valuable time, even if it’s only used occasionally!

Q: Who should learn Ansible? What kind of career will Ansible skills set you up for in the IT industry?
Ansible is ideal for anyone currently maintaining servers, or anyone interested in doing so in the future. I think Ansible has more of an operations slant to it than other DevOps tools. It is certainly something that can be managed programmatically, but it “thinks” like a system administrator.

Q: From a learner perspective, what did you keep in mind when creating this course?
I wanted our learners to be able to use Ansible in a real and useful way from the very beginning. Ansible can be built up into large, elaborate roles in your environment, but it’s also very useful as a one-liner, ad-hoc tool.

Q: Any out-of-the-box tips for learners to get the most out of your course?
The labs included with the course are the same machines I use when teaching. I encourage learners to experiment and expand on my examples. I like to teach how a command works, and let the learner adapt the why to their own situation. So play, play, play!

Q: What was your favorite Nugget to create in this course?
I think when we create our own roles later in the course (Ansible Roles: Form & Function and Ansible Roles: Ansible Galaxy), it’s neat to see all the things we’ve learned work together in order to do some really cool things.

Q: What’s the most important thing you hope learners take away from this course?
That Ansible is useful, literally useful, even if you only use it for ad-hoc commands from your laptop. Ansible accomplishes in a few simple commands what system administrators would traditionally have to write long scripts in order to do. I can’t imagine anyone NOT using Ansible!

Q: What course(s) or certification(s) should learners complete before diving into your Ansible Essentials course?
An understanding of Linux, especially working on the commandline is important. We don’t do anything terribly complicated to the systems themselves, but I don’t go out of my way to explain the nuances of Linux while working on the commandline. I think the Linux Essentials course would suffice for a prerequisite.

Q: What course(s) or certification(s) should learners look to jump into after they complete your Ansible Essentials course?
The LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 courses will introduce you to all sorts of things you can do with a Linux system, and with an understanding of Ansible, you’ll realize how much easier those things can be with DevOps tools!

Q: How does Ansible stack up against Puppet, Chef, and Docker? Are Ansible skills transferable to other automation platforms?
It’s most like Puppet and Chef in terms of what it does. That said, it takes a less programmatic approach to DevOps than those two. It’s also easier to implement since there’s nothing to install on the remote computers! Docker is a different beast altogether, but is something that can easily be integrated with Ansible since it’s managed from the same command line that Ansible is so deft at controlling!

Q: How does Ansible fit into a career pathway for an IT pro who is looking to get into DevOps?
Ansible is so simple to use, I think everyone should learn it. Really. From a DevOps standpoint, it’s heavier on the “ops” than the “dev,” but still fits squarely into the DevOps landscape. Developers might be more comfortable with Chef or Puppet, but everyone owes it to themselves to learn how much time Ansible can save, regardless of their career focus.

Q: Open Source technologies seem to be earning a lot more respect these days. As a long-time Linux pro and fan, what do you think is contributing to the new acceptance we’re seeing?
People are finally seeing the light? I’m only teasing, sorta. I think Linux and Open Source have proven themselves over time, and it’s hard to beat a rock-solid track record. Like always, however, when licensing is no longer a financial concern, it’s easier to focus your time and resources on creating. And that is money well spent.

Q: In the very first video Nugget of your Ansible Essentials course, you claim to be a science fiction nerd. Prove it.
I’ll prove it by not answering each with a one-word answer…
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek, because science.
1984 or Dune? Dune, but truth be told I didn’t really like Dune. It’s just a (bit) less depressing, so I’ll pick it.
Spock or Yoda? Yoda, oddly enough. I love Spock, but Yoda’s concept of strength and wisdom appeals to me. He could kick anyone’s butt, yet rarely felt the need to do so.
Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone? Black Mirror. Because it is realistic enough to creep me right out.
Picard or Kirk? Picard every day and twice on Sunday. Captain Picard (fictional) and Fred Rogers (real, but on tv) were my “father figures” growing up. I could have done a lot worse. 🙂
George R. R. Martin or J. R. R. Tolkien? Tolkien
Light saber or blaster? Light saber. It’s a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age. (But I’d probably have picked phasers if that was an option.)
Stranger Things or Firefly? Firefly, but I do *love* Stranger Things.
R2D2 or BB-8? R2

Would you rather:
Be alive in the past or in the future? Future.
Survive the zombie apocalypse or the singularity? I guess zombies because they’re easier to outsmart.
Be a dragon or have a dragon? Have a dragon. Opposable thumbs are *really* nice.
Play a board game or a video game? Sigh, a board game. Because I suck at video games. Like, really, really suck.

(Editor’s note: Based on Shawn’s answers to our sci-fi grilling, we concur. Shawn is, indeed, a science fiction nerd. And we love him for it.)

Begin your DevOps journey with Ansible Essentials with Shawn Powers today!

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