Sample Ansible setup
You have learned about playbooks, inventory, roles, and variables. This section combines all those elements and outlines a sample setup for automating a web service. You can find more example playbooks that illustrate these patterns in our ansible-examples repository. (NOTE: These examples do not use all of the latest features, but are still an excellent reference.).
The sample setup organizes playbooks, roles, inventory, and files with variables by function. Tags at the play and task level provide greater granularity and control. This is a powerful and flexible approach, but there are other ways to organize Ansible content. Your usage of Ansible should fit your needs, so feel free to modify this approach and organize your content accordingly.
This layout organizes most tasks in roles, with a single inventory file for each environment and a few playbooks in the top-level directory:
production # inventory file for production servers
staging # inventory file for staging environment
group1.yml # here we assign variables to particular groups
hostname1.yml # here we assign variables to particular systems
library/ # if any custom modules, put them here (optional)
module_utils/ # if any custom module_utils to support modules, put them here (optional)
filter_plugins/ # if any custom filter plugins, put them here (optional)
site.yml # main playbook
webservers.yml # playbook for webserver tier
dbservers.yml # playbook for dbserver tier
tasks/ # task files included from playbooks
webservers-extra.yml # <-- avoids confusing playbook with task files
common/ # this hierarchy represents a "role"
main.yml # <-- tasks file can include smaller files if warranted
main.yml # <-- handlers file
templates/ # <-- files for use with the template resource
ntp.conf.j2 # <------- templates end in .j2
bar.txt # <-- files for use with the copy resource
foo.sh # <-- script files for use with the script resource
main.yml # <-- variables associated with this role
main.yml # <-- default lower priority variables for this role
main.yml # <-- role dependencies and optional Galaxy info
library/ # roles can also include custom modules
module_utils/ # roles can also include custom module_utils
lookup_plugins/ # or other types of plugins, like lookup in this case
webtier/ # same kind of structure as "common" was above, done for the webtier role
monitoring/ # ""
fooapp/ # ""
By default, Ansible assumes your playbooks are stored in one directory with roles stored in a sub-directory called
roles/. With more tasks to automate, you can consider moving your playbooks into a sub-directory called
playbooks/. If you do this, you must configure the path to your
roles/ directory using the
roles_path setting in the
You can also put each inventory file with its
host_vars in a separate directory. This is particularly useful if your
host_vars do not have that much in common in different environments. The layout could look like this example:
inventories/ production/ hosts # inventory file for production servers group_vars/ group1.yml # here we assign variables to particular groups group2.yml host_vars/ hostname1.yml # here we assign variables to particular systems hostname2.yml staging/ hosts # inventory file for staging environment group_vars/ group1.yml # here we assign variables to particular groups group2.yml host_vars/ stagehost1.yml # here we assign variables to particular systems stagehost2.yml library/ module_utils/ filter_plugins/ site.yml webservers.yml dbservers.yml roles/ common/ webtier/ monitoring/ fooapp/
This layout gives you more flexibility for larger environments, as well as a total separation of inventory variables between different environments. However, this approach is harder to maintain, because there are more files. For more information on organizing group and host variables, see Organizing host and group variables.
These sample group and host files with variables contain the values that apply to each machine or a group of machines. For example, the data center in Atlanta has its own NTP servers. As a result, when setting up the
ntp.conf file, you could use similar code as in this example:
--- # file: group_vars/atlanta ntp: ntp-atlanta.example.com backup: backup-atlanta.example.com
Similarly, hosts in the webservers group have some configuration that does not apply to the database servers:
--- # file: group_vars/webservers apacheMaxRequestsPerChild: 3000 apacheMaxClients: 900
Default values, or values that are universally true, belong in a file called
--- # file: group_vars/all ntp: ntp-boston.example.com backup: backup-boston.example.com
If necessary, you can define specific hardware variance in systems in the
--- # file: host_vars/db-bos-1.example.com foo_agent_port: 86 bar_agent_port: 99
If you use dynamic inventory, Ansible creates many dynamic groups automatically. As a result, a tag like
class:webserver will load in variables from the file
You can access host variables with a special variable called
hostvars. See Special Variables for a list of these variables. The
hostvars variable can access only host-specific variables, not group variables.
With this setup, a single playbook can define the entire infrastructure. The
site.yml playbook imports two other playbooks. One for the webservers and one for the database servers:
--- # file: site.yml - import_playbook: webservers.yml - import_playbook: dbservers.yml
webservers.yml playbook, also at the top level, maps the configuration of the webservers group to the roles related to the webservers group:
--- # file: webservers.yml - hosts: webservers roles: - common - webtier
With this setup, you can configure your entire infrastructure by running
site.yml. Alternatively, to configure just a portion of your infrastructure, run
webservers.yml. This is similar to the Ansible
--limit parameter but a little more explicit:
ansible-playbook site.yml --limit webservers ansible-playbook webservers.yml
Ansible loads any file called
main.yml in a role sub-directory. This sample
tasks/main.yml file configures NTP:
--- # file: roles/common/tasks/main.yml - name: be sure ntp is installed yum: name: ntp state: present tags: ntp - name: be sure ntp is configured template: src: ntp.conf.j2 dest: /etc/ntp.conf notify: - restart ntpd tags: ntp - name: be sure ntpd is running and enabled ansible.builtin.service: name: ntpd state: started enabled: true tags: ntp
Here is an example handlers file. Handlers are only triggered when certain tasks report changes. Handlers run at the end of each play:
--- # file: roles/common/handlers/main.yml - name: restart ntpd ansible.builtin.service: name: ntpd state: restarted
See Roles for more information.
The basic organizational structure described above enables a lot of different automation options. To reconfigure your entire infrastructure:
ansible-playbook -i production site.yml
To reconfigure NTP on everything:
ansible-playbook -i production site.yml --tags ntp
To reconfigure only the webservers:
ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml
To reconfigure only the webservers in Boston:
ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml --limit boston
To reconfigure only the first 10 webservers in Boston, and then the next 10:
ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml --limit boston[0:9] ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml --limit boston[10:19]
The sample setup also supports basic ad hoc commands:
ansible boston -i production -m ping ansible boston -i production -m command -a '/sbin/reboot'
To discover what tasks would run or what hostnames would be affected by a particular Ansible command:
# confirm what task names would be run if I ran this command and said "just ntp tasks" ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml --tags ntp --list-tasks # confirm what hostnames might be communicated with if I said "limit to boston" ansible-playbook -i production webservers.yml --limit boston --list-hosts
The sample setup illustrates a typical configuration topology. When you do multi-tier deployments, you will likely need some additional playbooks that hop between tiers to roll out an application. In this case, you can augment
site.yml with playbooks like
deploy_exampledotcom.yml. However, the general concepts still apply. With Ansible you can deploy and configure using the same utility. Therefore, you will probably reuse groups and keep the OS configuration in separate playbooks or roles from the application deployment.
Consider “playbooks” as a sports metaphor – you can have one set of plays to use against all your infrastructure. Then you have situational plays that you use at different times and for different purposes.
If a playbook has a
./library directory relative to its YAML file, you can use this directory to add Ansible modules automatically to the module path. This organizes modules with playbooks. For example, see the directory structure at the start of this section.
- YAML Syntax
Learn about YAML syntax
- Working with playbooks
Review the basic playbook features
- Collection Index
Browse existing collections, modules, and plugins
- Should you develop a module?
Learn how to extend Ansible by writing your own modules
- Patterns: targeting hosts and groups
Learn about how to select hosts
- GitHub examples directory
Complete playbook files from the GitHub project source
- Mailing List
Questions? Help? Ideas? Stop by the list on Google Groups