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Automation execution environments

Make automation tasks consistent and portable with packaged container images.

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Pick and choose where your Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform playbooks run by packaging them in automation execution environments.

These container images include the operating system kernel (Red Hat Enterprise Linux® Universal Base Image), automation engine (ansible-core), programming language (Python), as well as all necessary dependencies. Together, they create an isolated execution environment that can interact with—and run on—almost any IT platform.

Ansible execution environments. Video duration: 21:48.

Features and benefits

Independent module upgrades

Get the latest features on specific modules and collections by upgrading environments independently—reducing impacts to other parts of your automation deployment.

Portable, consistent environments

Move Ansible Playbooks across DevOps pipelines consistently, knowing the automation engine, programming language, and dependencies are transported with it.

Streamlined management

The containers can be created, updated, and distributed through registries like Podman, which keeps you from managing multiple repos or merging changes from different contributors.

Enhanced inspection

A content navigator works alongside automation execution environments to inspect each container, making it easier to understand and debug environments without manually navigating through file trees.

Automated builds

Ansible Playbooks can use the ansible-builder command-line utility to define each environment's base and builder images, dependencies, and build steps so you can automate updates and new builds.

Customizable open source software

Use specific Python or system dependencies and any additional tools—such as Git capability or certificates—to tailor your automation execution environments to your specific needs.

Red Hat named a leader in infrastructure automation

Forrester Research named Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform a leader in The Forrester WaveTM: Infrastructure Automation, Q1, 2023—with the highest score in the strategy category.

How do automation execution environments work?

Run the builder

The ansible-builder command-line utility works with your container engine (like Podman) to build environments, manage dependencies and configurations, and create images.

Choose an image

A YAML file contains the base image. That image can either be built from scratch or picked from a presupplied selection.

Customize configurations

Define any additional configurations that should be included in the execution environments—like system-level configurations or specific version control systems.

Push the environment

Once built, the execution environment is pushed to a private automation hub (a location to publish and download automation content—including execution environments—within your organization) or container registry, allowing you to store and share the environment.

Check for consistency

The ansible-navigator text-based user interface (similar to a command-line shell) can run playbooks against an execution environment—making playbooks more portable between users’ systems and the automation controller.

Frequently asked questions

Are automation execution environments preinstalled?

Some simple execution environments come preinstalled with every Ansible Automation Platform subscription, but custom environments are created using ansible-builder. Installing the builder simply requires the following command: dnf install ansible-builder. See what Ansible Automation Platform includes in this blog post.

Do I have to know containers to use automation execution environments?

Using ansible-builder limits how much users need to know about Linux® containers, their creation, and how to manage them, and a basic knowledge of container engines is enough to create an execution environment using the builder component.

How do I create an automation execution environment?

In short, creating an automation execution environment requires installing and configuring ansible-builder; defining, customizing, then building the environment; pushing the environment to a registry; and finally running ansible-navigator to verify the environment has everything it needs and runs as it should. Give ansible-builder and other development tools a try in an interactive lab.

Keep learning


Unlocking efficiency: Harnessing the capabilities of ansible-builder 3.0

Review the new features of ansible-builder 3.0, which improves efficiency by reducing image size and build time.


Execution environments

Check out the documentation for building execution environments.


The automated enterprise

Learn the basics of automation, how to develop an enterprise-wide automation strategy, 6 common automation use cases, and more.

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