With the fast pace of innovation in technology and the dynamic landscape introduced with the COVID-19 pandemic, new disruptions emerged across industries. Businesses continue to innovate to meet customer needs, but that can seem like an endless challenge. Consumers now have more options available, require better service at a faster pace, and use multiple channels, including social media and mobile applications, to interact directly with your company. 

Most consumer and operational data, valuable for making faster and better business decisions, is generated in remote locations, where physical security is lower and connectivity is intermittent. 

However, all these innovations require a major operational effort, considering the scale and the need to manage hundreds or thousands of devices consistently. 

Among all of our customers, across all industries, one challenge that surfaces frequently is the skills gap. This includes the challenge of hiring skilled personnel and onboarding them into the day-to-day operations faster. The goals are to reduce human error while training employees and promote employees without compromising operations.  

Edge computing enables you to allocate compute resources in remote locations in a distributed fashion. These resources support the data process in remote locations, where you need to gather and analyze it. In edge scenarios, automation is needed to deploy distributed applications across hundreds or thousands of small devices. 

Today, Red Hat announced the general availability of Red Hat Device Edge to support the operational needs of edge devices, combining new Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and MicroShift edge capabilities. In addition, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform enables simpler operations and Red Hat Device Edge deployments at scale to automate Day 0/1/2 application lifecycles.

A previous blog post described the manual workflow of building a zero-touch Red Hat Device Edge image with MicroShift and deploying it on a simulated edge device.

This blog shows you how to automate the process and how to automate the operational tasks with a single click. 

The workflow execution

The automation execution happens in the Ansible Automation Platform console from the Resources > Templates section by clicking the Rocket button next to the 00_ImageBuilder Workflow template. 

Kicking off the Image workflow Visualizing the workflow execution

A workflow template enables you to orchestrate a full process, including multiple job templates executing different tasks in a sequence order.

With a single execution, it orchestrates the following tasks:

  • Creates a virtual machine in Red Hat OpenShift, gets its IP address, and adds it to the Ansible Automation Platform hosts to run the additional job templates.
  • Registers the virtual machine in the Red Hat Customer Portal to access the latest updates and packages for the initial installation. 
  • Installs all requirements, enables services needed for image builder, and pulls additional packages for RHEL OS. 
  • Composes a Red Hat Device Edge image with MicroShift, builds it, and deploys it into a device. 

As you can see, each one of these steps handles multiple tasks and processes in the background.

One of the major benefits of deploying automation into these tasks is consistency. When the entire production environment process is automated, it not only helps teams decrease the risk of human error right now, but it also helps teams avoid missing dependencies, degradation, and failures in the future. With a single execution, you gain repeatability across all Red Hat Device Edge deployments with the execution of a fully tested process.  

Ansible-validated content for Red Hat Device Edge

There are two Ansible-validated content collections, fully tested for performance by Red Hat engineering, that allow you to automate most of the workflow, including roles to automate the following needs:

  • Create job templates in Ansible Automation Platform for OSBuild and MicroShift execution.
  • Deploy an OS Builder on top of RHEL systems.
  • Build Red Hat Device Edge OS images with or without MicroShift and deploy them to edge systems at scale across different locations.

You can find them in Ansible automation hub: infra.osbuild to automate the OSbuilder composer, and edge.microshift to automate the image creation and the MicroShift deployment.

See this detailed blog covering infra.osbuild collection for additional information about Ansible-validated content and edge collections.

Test this scenario

If you want to recreate the demo, check out the playbooks used for it. You can see the full execution with a detailed description in this video demo and the credentials we created to execute the whole task as described in detail in the following video.

And finally, the GitHub code is available in the following repository.

Wrap up

This blog covers automating the process of creating and deploying a Red Hat Device Edge image, including its operational tasks. This helps address the serious concerns surrounding skills gaps and onboarding new employees by reducing workloads. Edge deployments to remote locations can be distributed and automated, saving time and effort.

This blog covers automating the process of deploying Red Hat Device Edge images using a zero-touch approach to help address efficiency concerns.


About the author

Dafné is a Principal Technical Marketing Manager for Ansible Automation Platform Business Unit at Red Hat. Prior to Red Hat, Dafné worked at Cisco Systems, supporting Service Providers customers across US, Canada and Latin America to design, implement and adopt automation, orchestration and network management solutions. She brings over 15 years of experience in the IT field with specializations in DevNet, ITIL, SCRUM, consulting, networking and automation.

Read full bio