Original article
Ansible and Terraform: Better Together

## Why do you need more than Ansible?

Ansible doesn’t necessarily have to own and do every single task that it sets out to do; Like an instrument in an orchestra, others may be better positioned for particular tasks.

## Ansible Vault vs Terraform Vault

I would assume, since Terraform is a Hashicorp product, then the recommended secret solution would their Vault.

 1  ewwlinks +/"The Vault provider allows Terraform to read from, write to, and configure Hashicorp Vault." "https://www.terraform.io/docs/providers/vault/index.html"

### Using Ansible Vault outside the context of ansible

• Put secrets.tf.vault in the repo.
• Put secrets.tf in the .gitignore.
• ansible-vault decrypt secrets.tf.vault --output=secrets.tf

## Super brief GPT-3 summary of first half of transcript

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37  We will show you how our tools work together, and how they are synergistic. So Red Hat Ansible Automation is a toolset that makes other tools work better together. And we'll show you how to use three of them today. Ansible vault is a tool to protect your secrets. It is a tool that helps you keep your secrets safe. Terraform is a tool that allows you to automate the management of your infrastructure. This means that you can use terraform to build your servers, install software, and configure it just like you would with ansible. The difference is that the code is written in HCL instead of YAML. vault is a tool that protects sensitive data, like passwords and tokens, that you want to use in a playbook. vault is easy to use and works with ansible and terraform. when we talk about ansible vault it is like a feature to us, it is a place where you can take sensitive data and store it in a safe place.

## Transcript from video

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 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527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 543 544 545 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 555 556 557 558 559 560 561 562 563 564 565 566 567 568 569 570 571 572 573 574 575 576 577 578 579 580 581 582 583 584 585 586 587 588 589 590 591 592 593 594 595 596 597 598 599 600 601 602 603 604 605 606 607 608 609 610 611 612 613 614 615 616 617 618 619 620 621 622 623 624 625 626 627 628 629 630 631 632 633 634 635 636 637 638  I'm Sean Carolyn solutions engineer with Hashi Corp and I'm based out of Austin Texas and I'm Dillon Silva I'm the product manager for ansible engine or ansible core or just ansible project whatever you want to call it and I'm out of this fair bay area of San Francisco all right so today we're gonna present to you our musings on the subject of how our tools work better together yeah so you know a lot of you and a lot of our users pretty much like the Pegasus as an either/or story and our goal here is to really tell you how these two tools or how the hasha corp suite of tools and the ansible suite of tools are really very synergistic with each other and pretty much just kick back enjoy the ride with us and kind of hear us our our mutterings amongst ourselves on how these work together how many folks in the room today are using terraform ok good and then keep your hands up how many of you are actually ansible users as well alright so paramount nice so I'll apologize in advance I got a boring slide coming but we'll get passed through that one yeah pretty quickly we'll try to spice it up all right so the first question why well we look at it this way from Red Hat ansible Automation side which really is the culmination of engine tower galaxy ansible vault it's it's how do we take that toolset and take the community that comes from it and extend it out to the rest of the ecosystem so occasionally you'll hear us mention ansible is the glue of all that as automation all that is the you know the DevOps tool ecosystem that we all work with well taking that step back ansible doesn't necessarily have to own and do every single task that it's set out to do so being that glue or being the orchestrator think of it as the composer of a nice symphonic piece we can reach out until other tools and work with other tools to do the tasks that it's best suited for so we're not that big instrument that owns the whole piece there are other instruments that can do the job better than us or can actually do it in a sense that we wouldn't actually be able to tackle it with so that being said today we'll be showing you how three different Hoshi Corp tools can benefit the ansible user first we'll take a look at how Hoshi court vault our secrets management product and how it compares to ansible vault next we'll show you how ansible can be combined with terraform or Packer to enable powerful and efficient build pipelines there are many products and projects that contain vault in their name when you think of a vault you might think of a giant you know safe in a bank the big door and you can lock your secrets inside of the vault Hacha core vault can certainly be used to store your secrets but it can also generate new secrets or even encrypt your data on the fly think of a modern multi-cloud distributed API driven secrets management engine and we have a lot of those same concepts as well with our ansible vault but we want to expand on this by saying a couple of things Hacha core vault comes in both open-source and enterprise versions the vault cluster can store secrets or generate dynamic credentials multiple authentication methods are possible so vault is easy to integrate with the provisioning and config management tools like ansible or terraform and when we talk about ansible vault it really is just a feature to us it's a place where you can take protected sensitive data and have it vaulted to use in a playbook run that's pretty much it when we think of places to succour secure your passwords or tokens or other authentication methods that's really something that hashey core vault is really good for and we actually suggest you users to push towards something like that how many of you are using ansible vault today show hands ok yep good handful where do you store the password ok we have a thing for that in case you need a place to store the password all right so brief review some of this will be review for most of you what is terraform in case any of you are brand new to terraform here's a real quick brief introduction terraform is an open source command-line tool that can be used to provision any kind of infrastructure on dozens of different platforms and services terraform code is written in HCl or the Hashi Corp config language you can see an example of that up here HCl is easy to learn and easy to troubleshoot it's meant to strike a balance between human friendly and machine readable code with terraform you simply declare resources and how you want them configured and then terraform will map out the dependencies and build everything for you in a moment we'll show you a demo where terraform stands up a server and then calls on ansible to configure it and then when we talk about ansible there's two things that we like to touch on one it's the project itself the engine that's what drives the automation forward for ansible and everything is perfectly described in that ansible playbook as you guys know and then tower as the second part is the framework that sits on top of the engine to drive that automation so that is our pretty much our glue between all of the different tools in the ecosystem to work together in harmony and then here is an example of a playbook for those of you that don't know it I won't read it to you but it's in Y amel syntax so very human readable as well from top to bottom runs tasks sequentially by default so then moving forward you can see all the different highlights of the things that make up a part of a playbook so moving on to terraform well back to terraform does everybody know what this is yeah this is a graph of a bunch of terraform code so when you run terraform it very quickly and efficiently crawls through your code and puts everything in the correct order I used a free open-source tool called blast radius to this graph when you run terraform plan it builds the graph before it actually goes and deploys your infrastructure so this graph represents all the variables resources and dependencies required to stand up a single VM in Azure now just imagine how complicated this can get when you need to stand up entire networks of machines including load balancers and platform services terraform automatically maps out all these dependencies in the correct order for you let's talk about Packer who's using Packer today all right nice Packer is the third hoshi Corp tool that we mentioned Packer builds machine images on different platforms the modern operations team is actually a software delivery team and servers are no longer physical machines that you you set up and build instead they're software artifacts that we deliver with CIC be pipelines why might you want to build your images with Packer well first of all Packers easy to use and it works great with your existing ansible code it allows you to create security hardened images or pre install large software packages for quick deployments or auto scaling you can bake the latest OS patches into your images on multiple platforms and you can ensure that the same OS image is being used on Prem and in the cloud our first use case here is building a simple Amazon machine image or ami as they're called using packer and ansible Packer works with all the major cloud platforms as well as VMware OpenStack and docker so we're gonna break here real quick to demo actually we just saved the demo for the end right that might be better lost my slide put it back present there we go and we're back in business we'll save the demo for the end of course we need our notes now to multi-monitor is so fun okay and we're back in business all right so here I'll let you take this slide yeah the idea is is basically taking the creation of any image and extending that next step onto ansible so the the concept of configuring and making that beautiful golden image that we all look towards deploying in our environments right that's the step that ansible can do for Packer when you're building that image but then the the concept that we'd also like to talk about is the little interweaving of it is ansible working with Packer and telling Packer to take that step to build an image so basically building an ansible workflow to go through the process of building the golden image and then deploying it I like to call this DevOps ception so here's another use case you can use terraform to call ansible terraform is a great infrastructure provisioning tool but you may have noticed it doesn't come with a config management system that's where ansible comes in we use terraform to stand up VMs or cloud instances and then we hand over the reins to ansible to finish up the configuration of our OS and applications and then once again ansible calling terraform and ansible 2.5 we released a terraform module to do just that so within that module you can actually tell terraform to run a plan to actually apply and set up your terraformed environment right then and there so going through that flow you could start with Packer and then move on to terraform all through one ansible playbook speaking of DevOps ception we have this so here you got on the slide this is the idea that we're trying to to tell everybody let's think about it so you have to be one or the other yeah let's see if we can describe what's going on here all right so we have ansible well let's start with Packer we have Packer calling ansible to build our machine images those are gonna live in the artifact repo then ansible calls terraform to build an instance or multiple instances from those images that we created along the way you might fetch some secrets from vault then what happens next then we call ansible again to finish configuring the machine to do any last mile config that you need to do to get it ready for production so the two tools can actually be used you know very in a very complementary manner so I think this is where your yeah equal to your your actual let's do the demos and stuff all right so just a moment while we I'm gonna switch to mirrored mode so we don't have to play window hide-and-seek here it's always fun [Music] how do I use ansible with terraform let's walk through that example first pretty standard terraform code we're standing up a Google compute instance and then with terraform we have the concept of a provisioner the provisioner is the thing that's going to run your shell script or your ansible code to finish configuring the OS and applications that live on the machine you might notice that we have a remote exec and it's just doing an echo command why would that be there well the way you run ansible with terraform using local exec if you don't have a remote exec in here what will happen is the local exact attempts to run as soon as the machine is spun up ssh isn't ready yet and the command will fail so this is a little bit of a hack that we use the remote exec ensures that SSH is up and listening and so we just run this little echo command and you can put any command you want in there and that way once SSH is up you can run your ansible playbook the same way you always have so local exec is one method to run ansible on your machines using terraform and it's probably going to be the most comfortable and familiar if you're a long-time ansible user we're SSA Qing into the machine and we're running our playbook just like we always have so I've got an example of that down here I'll just go ahead and run it in my other terminal so I see an ansible cow that's a good sign right that was a previous run and as you know if we run terraform again we get the same result so I've deployed a simple cat app I heard you can score internet points with cats so we put a cat in our presentation second way you can run ansible and terraform together is using the remote exec method how's the text size from the back can you folks read this all this code is online by the way we'll give you the link and that will be posted later the remote exec can be handy when you don't have SSH access to the target host so you need to run ansible on that machine but you know I might not be able to ssh to it directly or you know you may not may not be able to connect to it we can use remote exact you just have to figure out a way to get your playbooks onto the machine so here I've kind of hacked together some code that will push all of the ansible code out there install ansible and now we're running it from the remote host itself so a little bit more work but there are some use cases and scenarios where this could be handy and then the final one is Packer Packers really easy to get started with so if you're not using Packer today go home and take it for a spin you can take an existing playbook drop it into a config file and then you run your Packer command as I've done here Packer build and you can see what happens Packer spins up a new instance it'll even create a temporary key pair for you so you don't have to worry about that or how to connect to the machine it'll get on the machine configure it and then snapshot it into an image that you can use and you can actually automate all of this too using like a CI CD build pipeline or something and this way you have an image factory maybe you'd like to have the same version of Red Hat in both your cloud and your on-prem environments Packer can enable that for you so this is the code this will be posted later if you want to get a copy of this also we have tutorials on our website that explained how to use these two tools together and just real quick - we hadn't shown a demo on this but from a hash to court vault side of things ansible we provide a lookup plugin for those of you who don't know that exists so you're able to take data out of hash your core vault and use it in your playbook runs as well so there's some documentation on that as well yeah that's documented here it's actually called the Hashi vault plugin yep and when I see a lovely typo that we can get fixed right there you got good eyes yeah all right I think that stickler for that yeah so that brings us to questions what I need to keep it simple for questions do you have for us I see some hands right there as of right now no that's actually something from a tower side of things that were actually adding as a feature in the future so stay tuned for that yeah if you didn't catch it the question was can you use ansible tower with Hoshi core vault it was more of the question was can you utilize the credentials within Hoshi core vault as a credential within tower right now no but that's something that we're working towards good I see a question there yeah a little bit more in the way of moving parts right because you need obviously the ansible binary that command itself to be able to run and you've got to have a way to feed your playbooks or get them somehow onto that machine so if you can do those two things either with a shell script or you know a little wrapper you can run the remote way where all of the ansible activity is happening on the machine itself and you're just doing it to localhost instead of doing it remotely over SSH I'm gonna defer to doing on it yeah that would definitely be one thing if it were systems that only had access to like that DMZ per se that's that's one route that you would be taking another use case that I would be thinking of is when you actually had a terraform enterprise system and an ansible tower type system that's the remote exec right there most of that will be done over API most likely but from a call back side of things there may be some instances where ansible itself has to be interacted with terraform itself so that's that's that I think the main use case though would be DMZ related things like you only have access to that host from that location and that part of the network that's a good question on the ansible cider on the that's a good one I never actually thought of that thank you I'll put the host name put it in the inventory yeah but it's it's more to of I'm wondering if there's a way that we could leverage enterprise to to generate a dynamic inventory because all of the data that's coming from terraform as the source of truth at that point that's right so you could with terraform enterprise have you know remote workspaces advertising or have those outputs available you could just fetch them with an API call yeah and and since that API is presenting it in Jason there's there's the way that ants will consumes that data already right so it would just be the the basic key value pairs that would come from any dynamic inventory plug-in and put it there but I'd I like that as an idea that's something that will we'll definitely be talking about together because I hadn't thought about that yeah if you want you want to chat some more after and just come and see us after the talk any other questions there's a question here here here okay we'll get to each one yeah please mmm-hmm I think that's that's pretty much the whole point of this right is is kind of building that awareness and getting people to realize that there is a lot of synergy between the tools as far as us building those integrations together that's something that's of work in progress with each other work we've got a full list of roadmap items as to companies to work towards and start delivering so you'll start seeing all of that over time as they come so got a request to repeat the beach questions okay for the recording yeah got it okay who's next question here and then there was one gentleman in the second row hi Kevin yeah so it was more of a statement of this this is a good way to to prove that there is still value for configuration management outside of system policy or infrastructure as code my views on the subject are definitely akin to that I also I mean it always gets to the Bakke versus FRA discussion right you know our are we baking a fully golden image or are we getting all the pieces together and frying it at the end I'm more of the latter in my past of operations I feel like it's better to get as much together as you possibly could and build that image and then do your deployments at the end because there is always going to be that little bit of configuration management you have to do and then when I think advancable at in the bigger scheme of things there's more to it than just the system's being set up right you have your your application monitoring you have to do an orchestrate you have to tell that to set up and set up the alerts for all of that I always think of that bigger picture and I think from a policy standpoint that's always one thing that's lacked when it comes to to to talking about that policy to you know your your actual reviewers of of your let's say that you're actually about to go public and you need everything reviewed over those are some things that are overlooked that I always liked to highlight when I was in operations I like Kevin's approach because it's very practical there are gonna be shared services that you stand up and just leave alone and and you know it's important to have good config tools for building and maintaining those things with that kind of Splunk for example yeah that's a good one Samson there's I mean and that's the thing right is there are so many tools in this ecosystem that we all have to work with and it's just a matter of how do you get them all working with each other and that's kind of the story here today good yes yes good okay so to kind of sum up the question we showed you how to use ansible and Terra forum and terraform and ansible or ansible to call terraform and then call ansible what are some recommended patterns about how to do that and use you know to get the but the most of both tools with that kind of I think one of the most effective ways is that we could actually have an ansible provisioner so that's that's one thing that we're actively working on as to companies and getting that built so stay tuned for that along those other lines I'd I would say it's it's more dogma at that point I wouldn't necessarily want to prescribe to any person to say to use one or the other because it really comes down to your actual corporate policies at that point and there are some cases where users may want to go through terraform enterprise as a pair as opposed to ansible Tower and vice versa if it's really really specific that I personally wouldn't want to self-prescribed that but at least from the to the two tools together there are some improvements I have a question I'd like to turn this around folks who raised their hands for using both terraform and ansible is there anyone calling terraform with ansible and doing orchestrating terraform runs with ansible how many are using the terraform module today yeah I see a hand there how do you do it what's it look like okay great okay good so a couple just to repeat a couple of options they have terraform calling jenkins and then jenkins will call ansible and that way they know if there's a failure in the build one more yeah okay good yep with principles alone correct so the the point was that terraform enterprise has a good audit log of what's happening in the cloud I think you know we have the same thing to a point and ansible tower as well but that's more just access to to tower and and who is running ansible jobs in there but that's that's more of the data that's shared between the tools there's a lot that could be done there about getting that data somewhere that can can do it you know think of things like Splunk or ELQ right going back to that previous discussion there's there's a lot of work that we can do there together that we're thinking about - oh yeah oh yeah gentlemen and second row had had a question he's been so patient yep so the question was have we used remote exec to call tower and do ansible yeah so that that's actually stuff that we're working on today is seeing how we can get terraform enterprise to integrate it with with ansible tower to do that that callback functionality right yep yep definitely I mean and I also think of it this way right you could have terraform enterprise call ansible tower after those systems are up and running and then there can be that data sent back in that call back to terraform and say you know this is the current state of the the terraformed world and this is how all my systems are set up and this is what's been deployed to them yeah totally can see that how does an option see some folks back here how about you and the docker shirt console integration points with ansible if I if I recall correctly there is somewhere out in the ecosystem that has a a consul of entry but I think it was a dynamic script what I would love to see is somebody in the community actually come out and build an imagery plugin so for those of you that don't know there's a transition from imagery scripts or dynamic inventory scripts to imagery plugins and we've we've kind of we're remastering the whole ansible code base to be more plug-in based and what that's giving to you the end user is an imagery cache that you can pull data from and I think things like console will lend to having that cash available to them because that's already dynamic innovative in of itself right and we want to get more data out and usable by the end user in ansible playbook runs so that's one thing I would like to see there's also a lookup plugin that could be in there as well just pulling data out I mean the sky's the limit with console it's not something that we're actively working on right now because we wanted to tackle that the terraform provisioner issue first and kind of just tell this story from a terraform standpoint yep yep yeah yeah definitely so the the statement there was that there's there's also value on the flip side of things is it in an ansible playbook run once that's done the data that came from that you can put back into console I would even take it further and say Hashi core vault is another place they can put data into that's been generated so let's say that a systems been spun up and it has a key that's been generated as a part of that you could throw that into hash a court fault but you know both come into into play it's it's putting data back into it as well that's part of the orchestration flow that you can go through and definitely something to think about and what we're working towards there's another two questions over there yeah fire away the question was are we getting a terraform provider for ansible tower not sure if I understand the question a provision or a provider ah I see what you're asking we haven't talked about that yet but that's not a bad idea actually I'll go back to I'm not the ansible tower p.m. I'm not the ansible tower p.m. but I'll definitely talk to them about that and see what his thoughts are because there's a lot from an ansible tower side of things that we're thinking about for I don't want to say Federation but for a tower Federation on how we manage multiple tower instances - in your environment and we're taking the docker approach for that or a container approach so you know I think that's actually a a good idea from from a tower side of things because we have tower modules I don't see why we can have terraform providers for Tower as well so yeah not a bad idea yeah we'll go badger the people in the purple shirts yeah there is another question back there yeah yeah so the question was is there a recommended folder structure for your Packer code I generally like to break it up by cloud or platform and then I try to put all of the shared files and scripts or play books what- have-you into the same folder where you know each each of those individual Packer templates can reach them Oh yep I remember mine I I think I had them off to the side so what I what I did at my last job is I actually built new AM eyes every single day and those were CentOS images getting put into Amazon and I believe I did have the play books in the same repo on the side yeah that is what it was so we had one large code base and for our deployment scripts we had our we had three directories we had a Packer directory we had a terraform directory and then we had a playbook directory and then all the roles and everything playbooks wise lived in there and we would just walk our way up to Packer and start building those those am eyes and then provision them with terraform and then go back to ansible to do the application deployments at that point in time so that that worked well for me I will say just out of personal preference stay the hell away from get sub-modules but once again that's dogma I don't like sub modules that's me so we're just about at time we'd like to take one last opportunity to thank you all for coming without our users this conference wouldn't be possible I think this is the last session for the day is that correct is there one more okay so pound some coffee and work through the next session and then come join us in the Tonga room tonight for a party sponsored by thanks everybody [Applause ]