How NASA Increased Simplicity in the Cloud

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and aeronautics and aerospace research, is widely recognized as one of the government’s most technologically advanced agencies. But as advanced as it is, even NASA can get bogged down with its technology environments.

The Problem

NASA needed to move roughly 65 applications from a traditional hardware-based data center to a cloud based environment for better agility and cost savings. The agency migrated many of its applications “as-is” to a cloud environment as a result of the rapid timeline. This created an environment spanning multiple virtual private clouds and AWS accounts it could not easily manage.

Even simple things, like ensuring every system administrator had access to every server or simple patching, were extremely burdensome.

The Fix

To remedy this, NASA turned to Red Hat and Ansible Tower to manage and schedule the cloud environment. Ansible by Red Hat is a simple-to-use IT automation engine that transforms the repetitive, inefficient tasks of software release cycles into predictable, scalable and simple processes. It automates cloud provisioning, application deployment, configuration management and service orchestration to let developers spend more time on their work and help operations more easily support deployment pipelines.


As a result of implementing Ansible Tower, NASA is better equipped to manage its AWS environment.

“Ansible Tower has allowed us to provide better operations and security to our clients. It has also increased our efficiency as a team,” a NASA IT leader concluded.

Other results included:

  • Updating nasa.gov took over one hour, but now takes under five minutes
  • Patching updates, which used to be a multi-day process, now takes 45 minutes
  • Achieving near real-time RAM and disk monitoring (accomplished without agents)
  • Provisioning OS accounts across the entire environment in under 10 minutes
  • Baselining standard AMIs went from one hour of manual configuration to becoming an invisible and seamless background process
  • Application stack set up went from one to two hours to under 10 minutes per stack

This blog post is an excerpt from our new report, End-to-End Security Automation in Government Today. Explore why automation is critical for government agencies and how they can implement it to stay secure here. 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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