Ansible Roles, Integration with Jenkins in DevOps, and EC2 Modules

An in-depth look at Ansible Roles, Integration with Jenkins, and Ansible S3 and EC2 modules:

In part 2 of the series on Ansible tutorials, we learned how Ans1ible playbooks are used to execute multiple tasks and get all the target machines or servers to a particular desired state.

                           Recommended Read => Exponential DevOps Training Series

Ansible playbooks are primarily YAML files which contain multiple tasks in one single huge file which is not modular and reusable. But if you need to break up your entire configuration and be more modular and reusable then Ansible roles will help a lot.

In this Ansible Tutorial, we will look at Ansible roles, Integrate Ansible with Jenkins for continuous delivery from a DevOps point of view and most importantly look at Ansible S3 and EC2 modules for managing AWS EC2 instances (Create and Terminate EC2 instances).

Ansible Roles, Modules, and Integration with Jenkins in DevOps

Ansible Roles

With Ansible roles you can group your variables, tasks, handlers etc., which increase reusability and most certainly reduce syntax errors. It helps to de-clutter the whole code.

Ansible roles are similar to modules in Puppet and cookbooks in Chef.

In order to create roles, you use the ansible-galaxy command which has all the templates to create it.

Example Scenario

I have been a DevOps specialist for most of my life and have been working only in CI and CD.

So for Example in Continuous Delivery where I am deploying a new build of my J2EE application (WAR file) to tomcat my steps would be as follows:

  • Stop the application
  • Uninstall the application
  • Deploy the new build of an application
  • Start the application

So I would be creating a role with at least 4 tasks and one main file calling it. This way I am making my code more modular and reusable. So let’s call this role as tomcat and create it.

$ cd /etc/ansible/roles
$ sudo ansible-galaxy init tomcat --offline

1.Creating the role, tomcat

Once the role is created you can see the directory structure which it has created.

The main components we will use in this section include:

  • tasks/main.yml – This is the starting point for tasks created for the role. You can use the main.yml file to point to the other task files.
  • vars – This is to define any variables used.
  • meta – This is to define information about yourself or the author.

Step 1: Create the main list of all tasks

Edit the tasks/main.yml file and add the below code. As per the example scenario mentioned above, we are defining 4 different tasks. In most cases, the deploy application will also start the application so the last one of the starting application may not be required.

# tasks file for tomcat
- import_tasks: stop_app.yml
- import_tasks: uninstall_app.yml
- import_tasks: deploy_app.yml
- import_tasks: start_app.yml

Step 2: Create all the 4 files as per the scenario

In the below tasks action: ec2_facts is used to get facts from remote EC2 instances and call them in plays/tasks

tasks/stop_app.yml file

- name: Gather EC2 instance metadata
  action: ec2_facts

- name: Stop application on {{ansible_hostname}}
  command: wget "http://{{tomcat_user}}:{{tomcat_pwd}}@{{ansible_ec2_public_ipv4}}:8080/manager/text/stop?path=/HelloWorld-Maven" -O - -q


- name: Gather EC2 instance metadata
  action: ec2_facts

- name: Undeploy application on {{ansible_hostname}}
  command: wget "http://{{tomcat_user}}:{{tomcat_pwd}}@{{ansible_ec2_public_ipv4}}:8080/manager/text/undeploy?path=/HelloWorld-Maven" -O - -q


- name: Deploy the new WAR file to target servers
  copy: src=/var/lib/jenkins/workspace/Demo-Maven-Project/target/HelloWorld-Maven.war dest=/home/ansible/tomcat/webapps

In the deploy code if JENKINS is used to build the WAR file then you need to provide the source directory of the WAR file in the copy module and the destination is the target server webapps location of tomcat.


- name: Gather EC2 instance metadata
  action: ec2_facts

- name: Start application on {{ansible_hostname}}
  command: wget "http://{{tomcat_user}}:{{tomcat_pwd}}@{{ansible_ec2_public_ipv4}}:8080/manager/text/start?path=/HelloWorld-Maven" -O - -q

Step 3: Define Variables

Edit the vars/main.yml file and add the code as shown below.

# vars file for tomcat

tomcat_user: tomcat
tomcat_pwd: tomcat

Step 4: Define information in the meta folder

Edit the meta/main.yml file and add your information like author, description, and company.


 author: V Niranjan
 description: Devops specialist
 company: <Company Name>

Step 5: Create a main site.yml file

Lastly, create the main site.yml file to call the role created which in turn will help to deploy the application to the servers or a list of hosts as per the inventory file. Create the file as /etc/ansible/site.yml

- hosts: webservers
  become: true
  - apache

Step 6: Run playbook file site.yml

$ ansible-playbook site.yml

2.Run playbook file site.yml

Launch the Tomcat URL to see if the application has been deployed and started.


3.application has been deployed and started.

Jenkins Integration with Ansible

In this section, we will see how Jenkins can be integrated with Ansible. The WAR file built using the build process will be used to deploy to Tomcat on the target machine using Ansible. We will be calling the Ansible role created in the previous section in Jenkins using the Ansible plugin.

So once the build is done the deployment of WAR file will be automatically triggered using Ansible.

I am keeping this simple and have not configured Sonar or Artifactory or Junit during the continuous integration activities which can also be done.

Step 1: Create a Jenkins job and configure the SCM repo using the code in GitHub

4.Jenkins integration with Ansible

Step 2: Configure the build

5.Configure the build

Step 3: Create roles directory within the Jenkins workspace

6.Create roles directory

Step 4: Create the tomcat role in the Jenkins workspace location using the command shown below

$ sudo ansible-galaxy init tomcat –offline

7.Create the tomcat role in the Jenkins workspace location

Follow the procedure as in the previous section to create all the files for tasks, vars, meta and the main site.yml.

The main site.yml file is created in /var/lib/Jenkins/workspace/<Jenkins-Job-Name> directory.

Step 5: Configure the Jenkins post-build step to invoke the Ansible playbook and call the site.yml file. Save the job.

8.Configure the jenkins post-build step

Step 6: Trigger the build job and launch the Tomcat URL to verify if the application is deployed correctly.

9.Trigger the build job and launch the Tomcat URL

Manage AWS S3 Objects with Ansible

Ansible S3 module can be used to get or put a file to or from an S3 bucket. To use this module we will need to install and configure boto module of python which acts as an API(Application program interface) to access AWS. This has to be installed on the Ansible control machine.

On Redhat Linux

$ sudo yum install -y python python-dev python-pip

On Ubuntu

$ apt-get install -y python python-dev python-pip

Once the above is done install boto

$ sudo pip install boto boto3

If not able to install then you will need to enable EPEL repo. The procedure can be found in part 1 of the article series in the installing ansible section.

Once the above is done we also have to provide AWS user credentials. You can export the AWS Access and Secret Key environment variables

export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID='AK123'
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY='abc123'

If in case even after setting the above environment variables you get an error as the credentials not found then you may also specify the same in the playbook.

Let’s now look at some examples of how to use Ansible with S3 buckets and later on to create and terminate instances.

Example 1: Create an empty bucket with a folder

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  - name: Create an S3 bucket
    s3: aws_access_key=<Access Key> aws_secret_key=<Secret Key> bucket=ansiblevnbucket object=/development mode=create permission=public-read region=ap-south-1

Note: Here the mode is created for creating bucket and Permission can be public-read or public-read-write

Run the playbook and view the bucket created with the development folder within it.

10.bucket created with the development folder

11. ansiblevnbucket

Example 2: To copy (upload) a file to S3 bucket

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  - name: Copy file to S3 bucket
    s3: aws_access_key=<AccessKey> aws_secret_key=<Secret Key> bucket=ansibleniru object=/niru.txt src=/home/ansible/niru.txt mode=put

Here the object is the file created within the bucket. It can be a file or folder. In this case, it is a file. The source is the file that is picked up from the local machine which is the Ansible control machine.

Note: Here the mode is put for uploading object

Run the playbook and look at the S3 bucket.

12.S3 bucket.

Example 3: Get (download) the file from S3 bucket

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  - name: Download file from S3 bucket
    s3: aws_access_key=<AccessKey> aws_secret_key=<Secret Key> bucket=ansibleniru object=/niru.txt dest=/home/ansible/niranjan.txt mode=get

Note: Here the mode is get for download object

Example 4: Delete an object or file from S3 bucket

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  - name: Delete an S3 bucket
    aws_s3: aws_access_key=<AccessKey> aws_secret_key=<Secret Key> bucket=ansiblevnbucket object=/development/niranjan.txt mode=delobj

Note: Here the mode is delobj for delete object

Example 5: Delete a bucket and all contents

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  - name: Delete an S3 bucket
    s3: aws_access_key=<AccessKey> aws_secret_key=<Secret Key> bucket=ansiblevnbucket mode=delete

Note: Here the mode is delete for the delete bucket

Provision an AWS EC2 instance using Ansible

Lastly, I will leave you with one of the most important features of Ansible which is to create or spin up an AWS EC2 instance and also how to terminate the instance. Of course, do not forget to install boto which is a pre-requisite and also ensure to export the user “AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID” and “AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY”.

In case the export does not work ensure to add the same in the code as shown below.

The code below will show you how to create an EC2 instance along with creating a security group and key pair.

  • Create a security group
  • Create key pair and the PEM file
  • Create EC2 instance
  • Save the EC2 instance IP address to the ansible inventory file

I am assuming that the users doing this exercise are well versed with the AWS EC2 concepts.

Add the below code to a file and run the same to verify the EC2 instance creation in the AWS console. As the code is big, it is split into 2 pages but ensure you save all to a single yml file.

- hosts: localhost
  become: true
  gather_facts: False

  region: ap-south-1
  instance_type: t2.micro
  ami: ami-5b673c34 # RedHat Linux 7.5
  hosts_file: /etc/ansible/hosts

 - name: Create security group
  aws_access_key: <access key>
  aws_secret_key: <Secret key>
  name: "vniranjan"
  description: "V Niranjan Security Group"
  region: "{{ region }}"
    - proto: tcp
      from_port: 22
      to_port: 22

- name: Create an EC2 key
   aws_access_key: <access key>
   aws_secret_key: <Secret key>
   name: "vniranjan"
   region: "{{ region }}"
  register: ec2_key
- name: Save private key (PEM file)
  copy: content="{{ec2_key.key.private_key}}" dest=/home/ansible/vniranjan.pem mode=0600
  when: ec2_key.changed
- name: Create an ec2 instance
    aws_access_key: <access key>
    aws_secret_key: <secret key>
    key_name: vniranjan
    group: vniranjan # security group name
    instance_type: "{{ instance_type}}"
    image: "{{ ami }}"
    wait: true
    region: "{{ region }}"
    count: 1 # default
      Name: Demo
      Name: Demo
  register: ec2
- name: Save IP to inventory file
    dest: "{{hosts_file}}"
    insertafter: '\[webservers\]'
    line: "{{item.private_ip}}"
  with_items: "{{ec2.instances}}"

Run the playbook

13.EC2 instance creation in the AWS console

/etc/ansible/hosts inventory file updated with private IP

14.inventory file updated with private IP

Login to the instance

ssh -i “vniranjan.pem”

(Note: Click on the below image for an enlarged view)


Security Group created

16.Security Group created

Key Pair created

17.Key Pair created

Terminating EC2 Instances

In this section let’s know more about terminating EC2 instances.

In the following screen you can see that there are 2 instances running and the steps for terminating would be in the following order:

  • Terminate the EC2 instances using Instance id’s
  • Remove security group
  • Remove key pair

18.Terminating EC2 instances

Playbook to terminate both the EC2 instances

- hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: false
  connection: local
    - 'i-05945003313d20603' # Replace these with your EC2 instance id’s
    - 'i-0ce5ce5820bddf610'

  region: ap-south-1
  keypair_name: vniranjan
  securitygroup_name: vniranjan
 - name: Terminate EC2 instance
    aws_access_key: <access key>
    aws_secret_key: <Secret key>
    instance_ids: '{{instance_ids}}'
    region: '{{region}}'
    state: absent
    wait: true

- name: Remove EC2 Key
   aws_access_key: <access key>
   aws_secret_key: <Secret key>
   name: '{{keypair_name}}'
   state: absent
   region: '{{region}}'

- name: Remove Security Group
   aws_access_key: <access key>
   aws_secret_key: <Secret key>
   name: '{{securitygroup_name}}'
   state: absent
   region: '{{region}}'


Today, most of the IT organizations are looking at some kind of differentiators to win business and showcase the same to their clients. I would say automation is definitely one of the key differentiators.

With tools like Ansible, I am of the opinion that you should be able to automate most of the repetitive manual tasks.

Thus what we have learned from this 3-part Ansible Tutorial series showcases Ansible as a very popular and powerful configuration management tool which helps in different areas of automation ranging from task automation, application deployment, and cloud provisioning. Thereby, we are primarily talking about IT orchestration.

Hope you enjoyed the range of Ansible tutorials and I’m sure that you would have gained immense knowledge on the concept by now.

Next, we will learn how to Integrate Jenkins with Selenium which is also a part of our DevOps training series.

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