Case Study on Ansible: How Companies Uses Ansible :: Schwarz Group

In this article, I discuss what is Ansible, How it is helping companies in their work. Let's start with What exactly is Ansible?

Source: Redhat

Ansible is an open-source software provisioning, configuration management, and application-deployment tool enabling infrastructure as code. It runs on many Unix-like systems, and can configure both Unix-like systems as well as Microsoft Windows.

It is agentless tool, It works on Master-Slave Architecture. Master is called as Control node, and Slave is called as Target node/Managed node. Ansible is a python based library. Only need in Target node is python.

source: medium

Playbooks can finely orchestrate multiple slices of your infrastructure topology, with very detailed control over how many machines to tackle at a time. This is where Ansible starts to get most interesting.

Ansible’s approach to orchestration is one of finely-tuned simplicity, as we believe your automation code should make perfect sense to you years down the road and there should be very little to remember about special syntax or features.

Playbooks are simple, human-readable, and self-documenting. They are also idempotent, meaning that a playbook can be run on a system at any time without having a negative effect upon it. If a playbook is run on a system that’s already properly configured and in its desired state, then that system should still be properly configured after a playbook runs.

  • Provisioning
  • Configuration Management
  • Application Deployment
  • Continous Delivery
  • Security Automation
  • Orchestration

Ansible has over 100 plus integration modules that work with different technologies like


  • VMware
  • Red Hat Virtualization (RHV)
  • Xenserver
  • Vagrant

Operating Systems


Ansible supports a wide variety of network providers today, including:

Ansible supports clouds, including:

Development: Github, Atlassian Bitbucket Pipelines, Gitlabs, Vagrant…

Integration/Test: Jenkins, Travis CI, Teamcity…

Deployment: Cloud Providers, Containers, ServiceNow, Systems, Virt Platforms…

Monitoring/Analytics: Splunk, AppDynamics, Dynatrace, LogicMonitor, InfluxDB…

About The Schwarz Group

The Schwarz Group is a German, privately owned retail group that operates more than 12,500 stores globally. It has two retail brands, Lidl and Kaufland, as well as production and waste management services brand Pre Zero. Lidl is a global discount supermarket chain consisting of 11,000 stores, while Kaufland is a hypermarket chain with 1,100 stores, focused on providing a large number of variety items at discount. The Schwarz Group is the fourth largest retailer in the world based on revenue.


Its internal IT service provider, Schwarz IT, employs more than 3,500 engineers to support more than 1,000 SAP systems and 28PB of datacenter-hosted storage. Each Schwarz store operates a Storeserver, a central operational system installed by the company’s local IT team that controls a range of store functions, from checkout kiosk systems and closed-captioning security (CCTV) to recycling and reward programs.

Initially, the retailer used Puppet automation technology to manage this centralized system. But to improve user management and authorization, Schwarz IT sought to introduce controlled, efficient self-service capabilities to speed deployment processes.

“The Storeserver environment has always been standardized, but we wanted an automation framework and self-service features to help us roll out new services and stores globally while still supporting local, decentralized management,” said Felix Kuehner, Compute & Runtime Services — Linux, Schwarz IT


The company decided to switch to a supported, enterprise solution: Red Hat Ansible Tower.

The group now runs more than 5,000 Ansible Automation Platform jobs each day to manage its Storeservers. Full migration of its Storeserver environment from Puppet is expected to be completed in 2021.


  • Improved delivery time for new applications
  • Enhanced in-house automation expertise to save management and development time
  • Improved risk management with role-based system access

Schwarz IT can now deploy applications to decentralized environments like Storeservers faster than before. After deployment, country administrators can automate and deploy services without needing to manage or access the Storeserver for their location.

Country administrators can automate and deploy services without root access to the store server. Clearly defined playbooks establish parameters, local teams spend less time duplicating efforts, leaving them more time to focus on local projects.

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