Several companies today are striving for digital transformation, enabling higher productivity through configuration management and server automation. According to a 2020 survey on Mckinsey, 80% of enterprises automate at least one or more tasks or business functions.
By leveraging modern server automation tools, you can automate the process of provisioning, patching, and managing. These tools allow you to configure and manage multiple servers and systems simultaneously, and they can also help you avoid configuration errors.
Several organizations leverage Linux systems to manage their infrastructure and operations. To improve efficiency and ensure Linux operations run smoothly, IT administrators seek to automate routine procedures and processes to save time, reduce workload, and manage resources better. Although Linux infrastructure has some automation capabilities, it isn’t always easy to automate. Some administrators may face a rather arduous challenge using just Linux for automation without taking advantage of additional Linux automation tools.
In this article, you’ll learn about Linux server automation and some of the tools that system admins can use to run Linux tasks.
What Is Linux Server Automation?
Linux Server Automation is the process of automating the provisioning, patching, scheduling, security, compliance, and other Linux-based tasks across virtual and physical servers. Most large enterprises employ Linux system infrastructure. To efficiently manage them, IT administrators must monitor, update, and secure the servers to ensure they are operating at their best. Some of these processes include:
Controlling user access is a critical part of Linux security activities. The first step to gaining access to Linux servers is managing SSH keys and user credentials such as usernames and passwords. By blocking ports and restricting network access, you can limit access and keep out attackers of Linux server infrastructure.
Keeping all servers and systems updated is crucial to the success of any Linux system. As a result, Linux administrators need to customize their Linux infrastructure initially to fit their environment. In the meantime, all endpoints need patching continuously as new updates and applications become available.
IT admins need to have the ability to monitor their system after the security and configuration management operations are in place. Additionally, Cyber security technicians can assess the performance of a system to determine whether more comprehensive maintenance and monitoring are needed or if a replacement is necessary.
Role Of Linux Server Automation
If you want to become a Linux server administrator, there are a few repetitive tasks you’ll need to complete. The repetitive nature of some tasks made tracking the servers impossible. That was one of the reasons why there was a need for automation tools.
You can use them to manage and maintain multiple servers or systems concurrently, and some of them make it easy to perform specific tasks by simply clicking on a button or typing in a command. As a system administrator, you can focus more energy on other valuable tasks by automating some tasks.
Attune is a server automation tool that runs across multiple platforms including Linux, Windows, and Mac Os environments. With Attune, you can automate Linux builds, provision, patch, secure, and monitor deployment across physical and virtual servers.
Similarly, Attune also supports PowerShell, Bash, and CMD procedures. By leveraging its node automation capabilities, you can automate tasks like setting up Home Labs or Docker configuration on Raspberry Pi. In addition to this, Attune has a user-friendly interface for managing all Linux servers.
Features of Attune
It’s a Python-based automation tool that runs on a cross-platform such as Mac OS, Windows, and Linux for Attune Enterprise
Modern interface with an agentless architecture
Streamlined task schedule management
High portability and sharable procedures
Enables existing scripts implementation for:
PowerShell script, Windows batch file, or script for specific Windows server interpreter
Bash, Perl, and Python scripts
Run SQL and PL/SQL scripts
Generate reports and documentation
Chef is a popular and well-established infrastructure and configuration management software. It has widespread across several large enterprises that include Yahoo, Etsy, Facebook, and more.
Chef simplifies the configuration management, helps to provision servers, automates complex infrastructure, and makes security and compliance easier. In addition to that, it integrates seamlessly with several cloud platforms such as Azure, GCP, and Amazon EC2.
Chef offers extensive, detailed documentation encompassing links to several community users, support guides, and resources. On top of that, you have many other extensions and procedures available to you.
Features of Chef
Cross-platform software that can run across several operating systems such as Linux, Windows, Mac OS, and Solaris
Impressive features such as data bags, cookbook versioning, and shared repositories
Handles complex configuration tasks effortlessly with Ruby and Erlang based syntax
Scales flexibly and consistently as the business grows
InSpec automated testing tools are available to examine Chef scripts
Puppet is another Linux server automation tool for managing server builds, configuration, and deployment. It’s a cross-platform solution; works on Windows, Solaris, and Unix-like operating systems.
Puppet uses a Master-Slave architecture to communicate via a secure encrypted SSL channel. With the orchestrator and code manager, you can seamlessly transition from continuous integration to continuous delivery. On top of that, you can automate deployments and ensure consistency across several data centers while retaining flexibility in modifying code, parameters, and environment settings.
Puppet helps you remain compliant as your business changes, allowing you to maintain consistency while making changes. The Puppet community has contributed or supported more than 5,000 modules for Puppet that detect desired states and provide situational awareness.
Features of Puppet
Ruby and C++ based applications that run on Linux, Unix-like operating systems, and Windows
Monitor all hosts continuously and assign a unique configuration to each
Supports scaling and reduces error
Providing centralized management of all machines, such as automatic change propagation–master server and repository-based
Widely used by over 30,000 firms including Google, Siemens, Stanford, Red Hat, and Harvard.
Large collection of extensive documentation and references
SaltStack is a cross-platform configuration management software that runs on Linux, Windows, and Unix-based operating systems. It’s a powerful infrastructure management tool that helps to automate and manage configurations remotely and run commands in Python.
SaltStack offers both agentless & agent-based configuration management with Salt via the ability to simultaneously push configuration codes to multiple nodes. In addition to that, it ensures compliance and security by providing extensive SecOps capabilities.
Features of SaltStack
Reproducible server configuration
Global community of open and friendly developers to help
Readable YAML based output
Uses SSH or agents for agentless communication
Multiple Salt minions can connect simultaneously to multiple Salt masters using the Salt Master parameter
Easily manage thousands of minions simultaneously on a highly scalable platform
Ansible is a Linux automation tool for automating and managing servers. You can use Ansible to deploy and update your application, patch your servers, and manage compliance and governance. Other features that Ansible provides include cloud provisioning, Infrastructure orchestration, and security management.
You can manage your project with Ansible modules –nodes for connecting to Ansible. Because Ansible is agentless, modules can run across any system or server. As a result, you don’t need to install any client/server software or agents to use it. Ansible distinguishes itself from other configuration management tools with its simplicity, ease of use, and rapid deployment.
Features of Ansible
Ansible connects seamlessly with other CI/CD tools such as Jenkins
Enables rapid application deployment
Reduces complexity and streamlines software releases
Uses SSH to carry out all agentless architecture action
Feature-rich with custom modules and extendable features
Reduces workload complexity with simple release procedures
Managing complex applications and environments on Linux can seem like a daunting task without a Linux task automation tool. By leveraging industry-standard solutions, you can manage configurations, provision servers, enable security, and automate compliance checks across physical and virtual servers.