Blog DevOps How-to’s to Maximize Your Ansible Skills?
Ansible skills

How-to’s to Maximize Your Ansible Skills?

Automation is the buzzword of the existing business environment. Almost every business process gains simplification and assurance of improved ROI with automation. Therefore, the demands for opensource automation tools are increasing considerably. So, you could easily find a wide-ranging demand for ansible skills in the present IT labor market. Why ansible? The most evident answer to this question clearly lies in the role of ansible as a DevOps tool. If you want to enhance ansible skills, then you must aspire for high-payout jobs. 

The following discussion aims at presenting different recommendations on ways to improve your skills in ansible. The discussion would include insights regarding the importance of Ansible in the existing job market. However, the highlight aspect of this discussion refers to the practices for improving your ansible skills.

Ansible Basics Video Course

The first concern that comes to the mind of IT professionals aspiring to enhance ansible skills is the necessity. DevOps roles are currently one of the high-paying jobs in the tech industry. DevOps job positions earn the highest salaries presently, and Ansible is one of the DevOps skills in high demand.

As per ZipRecruiter, the average salary of an Ansible professional in United States is $124,581 USD.

The staggering salary estimate may be sufficient reason to focus your attention on improving skills in Ansible. 

IT organizations need to improve their flexibility and collaboration with each other to ensure their survival. Ansible is an opensource tool or platform that helps in automation, configuration management, and IT orchestration. The major applications of ansible open-source tools are evident in the configuration of servers and the installation of software. Ansible follows a one-to-many agentless mechanism in which all instructions run from a control machine. The control machine communicates with remote clients through the supported protocols, especially SSH. 

Ansible skills are important because of the wide range of functionalities Ansible provides. Ansible performs diverse tasks, thereby implying the variety of skills required for using Ansible. It can integrate effectively with core modules for managing system configuration, cloud resource creation, and network management.

In addition, ansible also offers the flexibility for writing custom modules for Ansible, thereby improving its functionality. Users could also leverage Ansible for installation, customization, and running games. The ability of Ansible for provisioning, controlling, configuring, and deploying applications to multiple servers from a single machine is also another prominent reason to consider learning skills in Ansible. 

Also Read: Ansible Tutorial – How Ansible Works?

Components of Ansible

Before we move further in the discussion on earning top ansible skills, let us find out the components of Ansible. The notable components in Ansible are Tasks, Plays, Playbooks, Roles, and the Ansible Galaxy. 

The task is the smallest unit of work in Ansible, such as installing a database or installing a server. 

Plays are the collection of different tasks. For example, a play for preparing a database would involve different tasks like installing a database package, setting a password for database administration, and the creation of the database. 

The Playbook is a collection of different plays. For example, the playbook for preparing a website with database backend would include the plays for setting up a database server and setting up the webserver. 

Roles in Ansible are essential elements for saving and organizing playbooks alongside ensuring the sharing and reuse of playbooks. 

Finally, the most important element in the structure of the Ansible open-source tool is Ansible Galaxy. Ansible Galaxy is the online repository for uploading roles and sharing them with others. Ansible Galaxy integrates effectively with GitHub for the reliable organization of roles into Git repositories and flexible sharing through Ansible Galaxy. 

Here is an image that depicts the relationship between all components in Ansible.

Ansible components

How-to Tasks that can Enhance Your Ansible Skills

Now, we know that Ansible has a lot to offer, and learning Ansible skills is a reasonable option for aspiring IT professionals. The facility of different courses to learn Ansible effectively can be the perfect option for candidates to improve their skills. However, you can grab expertise in top ansible skills only through practical experience. Understanding and practicing some of the real-world tasks with Ansible are proven approaches for learning the skills to use Ansible. So, let’s get ahead without any further due!

1. How to use Ansible for patching systems and installing applications?

The first how-to for improving your ansible skills involves the process of using Ansible for patching systems and installing applications. Ansible runs packaging modules for patching systems. Ansible can help in installation, updates, or removal or installation from another location. Here is an example of an Ansible task for updating the system in the yum module. 

- name: update the system

   yum:

     name: "*"

     state: latest

The first line shows the task ‘name’, thereby ensuring certainty about what Ansible is trying to achieve. The use of practical how-to tasks to enhance your Ansible skills can help in learning about the intricacies of each process. The next line in the above example involves the ‘yum module’ updating the CentOS virtual machine. The name: “*” provides information to yum for updating everything. The final line ‘state: latest’ ensures updating back to the latest RPM. 

2. How to use Ansible for simplifying repetitive tasks?

The next important how-to for improving your Ansible skills involves different methods for simplifying tasks using Ansible. Actually, this segment would cover the use of Ansible for automating repetitive tasks for users. The different tasks include the management of users, package installation, and provisioning a system. 

Ansible and Terraform are the two names that are prominent in the DevOps landscape now. Let’s understand the Ansible vs Terraform battle!

3. How to manage users on Ansible?

One of the basic Ansible skills is comprehensive knowledge of managing users on Ansible. Loops on Ansible are the best alternative when it comes to creating a large list of users and groups where the users are in different groups. You can create a group by following the example mentioned below.

- name: create user groups

 group:

   name: "{{ item }}"

 loop:

   - postgresql

   - nginx-test

   - admin

   - dbadmin

   - Hadoop

Then, you can maximize your ansible skills by creating users with specific parameters like in the following example. 

- name: all users in the department

 user:

   name: "{{ item.name }}"

   group: "{{ item.group }}"

   groups: "{{ item.groups }}"

   uid: "{{ item.uid }}"

   state: "{{ item.state }}"

 loop:

   - { name: 'admin1', group: 'admin', groups: 'nginx', uid: '1234', state: 'present' }

   - { name: 'dbadmin1', group: 'dbadmin', groups: 'postgres', uid: '4321', state: 'present' }

   - { name: 'user1', group: 'hadoop', groups: 'wheel', uid: '1067', state: 'present' }

   - { name: 'jose', group: 'admin', groups: 'wheel', uid: '9000', state: 'absent' }

Referring to the user ‘jose’, you can clearly find that the “state: ‘absent’” implies deleting the account. So, why include all the parameters when you have to remove the user? The primary reason for the same is ensuring documentation of significant changes for the purpose of security compliance and audits. One of the important Ansible skills that you learn here is the ability for monitoring the history of changes. In addition, you can also gain the skill for the deployment of SSH keys for some users. A similar looping like in the previous example is applicable in this case too.

- name: copy admin1 and dbadmin ssh keys

 authorized_key:

   user: "{{ item.user }}"

   key: "{{ item.key }}"

   state: "{{ item.state }}"

   comment: "{{ item.comment }}"

 loop:

   - { user: 'admin1', key: "{{ lookup('file', '/data/test_temp_key.pub'), state: 'present', comment: 'admin1 key' }

   - { user: 'dbadmin', key: "{{ lookup('file', '/data/vm_temp_key.pub'), state: 'absent', comment: 'dbadmin key' }

In the case of this example, you can find the specification of ‘user’. In addition, the ‘lookup’ and ‘state’ provide insights into approaches for finding the key. Furthermore, the ‘comment’ attribute helps in defining the purpose of a key. 

Thinking to adopt Ansible as a configuration management tool? Let’s understand the advantages and disadvantages of Ansible.

4. How to install packages in Ansible

Package installation is also another notable task that can help you maximize your ansible skills. Ansible Facts could help in finding out the ideal module for a specific task. The generic module known as ‘package’ on Ansible using ‘ansible_pkg_mgr’ calls the appropriate package manager for the system. For instance, if you use Fedora, then the package module will call the DNF package manager. Here is an example that shows the use of a package module.

- name: install a package

   package:

     name: nginx

     state: installed

The following example can show how a yum module installs NGINX, skips the broken packages, disables ‘gpg_check’ from the repo, and ignores the repository certificates.

- name: install a package

   yum:

     name: nginx

     state: installed

     disable_gpg_check: yes

     validate_certs: no

     skip_broken: yes

Here’s How to Install and Configure Ansible?

5. How to provision a virtual machine

Provisioning a system using Ansible with the OpenStack cloud solution is another important how-to for improving your Ansible skills. Here is an example of provisioning a virtual machine (VM).

- name: create a VM in openstack

   osp_server:

     name: cloudera-namenode

     state: present

     cloud: openstack

     region_name: andromeda

     image: 923569a-c777-4g52-t3y9-cxvhl86zx345

     flavor_ram: 20146

     flavor: big

     auto_ip: yes

     volumes: cloudera-namenode

The above configuration leverages the osp-server module that helps in adding or removing an instance. The osp-server module contains information such as the name of the VM, cloud options, its state, and authentication to the API. You can delete the virtual machine by changing the “state:” to ‘absent.’ 

Preparing for an Ansible interview? Go through these top Ansible interview questions and get ready to crack the Ansible interview.

Final Words

On a concluding note, you can find that learning Ansible is easier through how-to tasks. The best thing about how-to tasks is that they offer insights into the recommended approaches for using Ansible for specific purposes. The increasing dominance of DevOps and the popularity of Ansible as a DevOps tool strengthen the motivations to pursue Ansible skills.

Apart from these information materials, you can also opt for online training courses. We at Whizlabs offer Ansible Basics online course for aspiring IT professionals. You need to brush up your basic knowledge of Ansible with hands-on tasks. Whizlabs offers promising guidance and support for all its learners. So, you should start your Ansible learning journey right away! 

About Neeru Jain

Technology Scientist by Mind and Passionate Writer by Heart!! With an enthusiasm for technological research and learning, Neeru turned out to be a technology expert. Her Belief: “Words are powerful enough to change Mind, Life, and the World; only the writer should have a real passion for Writing!!”
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