Red Hat has purchased software provider Ansible for a reported $100 million plus, with the plans of using Ansible's software to further help its customers set up and automate their operations in the cloud.

Red Hat will fold Ansible's software into its own considerable portfolio of cloud management software, notably Red Hat CloudForms and Red Hat Satellite.

The Ansible software actually has its roots in Red Hat, where Ansible creator Michael DeHaan worked as part of the company's research and development arm.

Ansible's software helps systems administrators automate the process of installing and updating system software.

Published reports, citing unnamed sources, are placing the value of the deal at more than $100 million. Red Hat did not disclose the terms of the deal but noted in the statement that “management expects GAAP operating expense to increase for fiscal 2016 by approximately $5 million, or ($0.02) per share, in the third quarter and approximately $6 million, or ($0.02) per share, in the fourth quarter as a result of the transaction.”


Assembling a stack of interconnected software to run some enterprise task or digital marketing routine can involve a lot of steps to configure and connect all the components. Using Ansible, the administrator can capture all these steps in a script, which Ansible can then execute to complete the steps automatically.

The scripts are particularly handy when the application needs to be run across multiple servers. Setting this up manually would be, at best, laborious for the administrator and at worst impossible for large deployments.

Ansible is one of a number of widely used applications for this task (oft called IT automation management), competing alongside Puppet and Chef.

The software has been praised for its ease-of-use in this category. Administrators can develop playbooks, or automated routines, using a simple programming language called YAML (Yet Another Multicolumn Layout). Unlike many other approaches, Ansible doesn't require software agents to be running on the servers upon which it installs software.

How It's Used

Ansible can be used in a number of different scenarios. It can help companies package their applications to run on public cloud computing services, such as those offered by Amazon. It can help if a company wants to run its own private cloud, using the OpenStack software, for instance.

It can also lend a hand in facilitating "devops," an emerging practice of developers working closely with IT operations folk so developers can get feedback more quickly about how well their creations are running.

Devops, in theory, allows companies to bring services and new features to the market much more quickly, compared to the traditional routines of software development.

What It Means

For Red Hat, the acquisition will help it compete with rivals VMware, Microsoft and IBM; all these companies are scrambling to build an integrated portfolio of software and services to make it easy as possible for their enterprise customers to run cloud workloads.

They are pursuing what could be a big market for such wares. Research firm IDC has estimated that the global software market for systems management software market achieved total revenue will grow to $8.3 billion of revenue in 2019, up from $2.3 billion in 2014.

"IT automation tools are a critical addition to any devops tool chain, as they can operate a large amount of changes to complex application architectures, and to a large number of application instances, in very short amount of time," wrote Alessandro Perilli, Red Hat general manager for cloud management strategy, in a blog post explaining the acquisition.

Based in Durham, N.C. — not far from Red Hat's Raliegh, N.C. headquarters — Ansible has approximately 50 employees worldwide. As an open source project, Ansible has been augmented by almost 1,200 outside developers.

Those interested in learning more about how this technology will work within the Red Hat ecosystem can check out an Oct. 22 webcast from the company.