“Siri, write an Ansible Playbook to create an Azure resource group, a SQL server and an instance of a SQL database.”

Seems a bit much for your phone’s assistant, right? Even so, imagine if this is the future of enterprise IT, where the command line and even graphical user interfaces are replaced by writing (or saying!) a sentence in plain English. Do this, then that and finally this. That’s it - no complicated syntax required.

It’s this future that Red Hat and IBM Research envision, and it’s why we’ve launched Project Wisdom, a project based around the Ansible community to help bring automation to a wider range of users through artificial intelligence (AI). By simply typing in a sentence, we intend to make it easier to create automation content, find automation content, improve automation content and, perhaps most importantly, explain what a playbook does without running it.

Why put another “I” in “automation?”

As IT systems expand into heterogeneous environments, the complexity of managing workloads can be more than what human teams can handle. Automation tools are critical to maintain sprawling footprints at the necessary scale and help drive business initiatives. And while Ansible is lauded for its ease of use and human readable code, the challenges of a growing skills gap can be daunting. Not only are IT teams busy, they are also frequently short-staffed, with an ongoing difficulty to recruit and retain a skilled IT staff while preserving existing morale. These workers need to work even harder to keep the lights on and often spend valuable hours simply maintaining existing content. To get to the top of the proverbial hill, either the boulder needs to shrink, the hill needs to level, or there needs to be a stronger force in play.

Lowering the barrier to automation is this force multiplier. Enabling automation to a far larger set of users helps the automation owner innovate while not limiting normal requests. It makes the power of automation a strategic, accessible asset for more users than just the experts. 

IT’s future is intelligent

Deeming AI as the future of IT isn’t a unique stance. But talking about AI’s role in the future of infrastructure and operations is - in fact, it’s groundbreaking. Imagine extending Project Wisdom out to other operations tasks, like patching, load balancing or networking. Or writing a playbook is as feasible as translating a foreign language online.

Project Wisdom is applied AI, and it’s not being built in a vacuum. Red Hat and IBM Research are applying our own expertise and muscle to fine tune the AI model, but the Ansible community will be the subject matter experts and testers. They will determine how well Project Wisdom functions, and if it functions. The AI models and underlying engines will be open, so the community can stay heavily involved. This involvement for a project of this potential magnitude is paramount for Red Hat. 

How you can get involved

Community participation is still being worked through; we’ll share progress and more information as it develops here. We look forward to advancing this technology with you, and exploring the realms of what open source technology can achieve.

About the author

Ashesh Badani is Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Red Hat. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s overall product portfolio and business unit groups, including product strategy, business planning, product management, marketing, and operations across on-premise, public cloud, and edge. His product responsibilities include Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, Red Hat OpenShift®, Red Hat Ansible Automation, developer tools, and middleware, as well as emerging cloud services and experiences.

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