Automatically launching and configuring an EC2 instance with ansible

Ansible makes it easy to configure an EC2 instance from soup to nuts when it comes to launching the instance and configuring it.  Here's a complete playbook I use for this purpose:

$ cat ec2-launch-instance-api.yml
- name: Create a new api EC2 instance
  hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: False
    keypair: api
    instance_type: t2.small
    security_group: api-core
    image: ami-5189a661
    region: us-west-2
    vpc_subnet: subnet-xxxxxxx
    name_tag: api01
    - name: Launch instance
         key_name: "{{ keypair }}"
         group: "{{ security_group }}"
         instance_type: "{{ instance_type }}"
         image: "{{ image }}"
         wait: true
         region: "{{ region }}"
         vpc_subnet_id: "{{ vpc_subnet }}"
         assign_public_ip: yes
           Name: "{{ name_tag }}"
      register: ec2

    - name: Add Route53 DNS record for this instance (overwrite if needed)
         command: create
         record: "{{name_tag}}"
         type: A
         ttl: 3600
         value: "{{item.private_ip}}"
         overwrite: yes
      with_items: ec2.instances

    - name: Add new instance to proper ansible group
      add_host: hostname={{name_tag}} groupname=api-servers ansible_ssh_host={{ item.private_ip }} ansible_ssh_user=ubuntu ansible_ssh_private_key_file=/Users/grig.gheorghiu/.ssh/api.pem
      with_items: ec2.instances

    - name: Wait for SSH to come up
      wait_for: host={{ item.private_ip }} port=22  search_regex=OpenSSH delay=210 timeout=420 state=started
      with_items: ec2.instances

- name: Configure api EC2 instance
  hosts: api-servers
  sudo: True
  gather_facts: True
    - base
    - tuning
    - postfix
    - monitoring
    - nginx
    - api

The first thing I do in this playbook is to launch a new EC2 instance, add or update its Route53 DNS A record, add it to an ansible group and wait for it to be accessible via ssh. Then I configure this instance by applying a handful or roles to it. That's it.

Some things to note:

1) Ansible uses boto under the covers, so you need that installed on your local host, and you also need a ~/.boto configuration file with your AWS credentials:

aws_access_key_id = xxxxx
aws_secret_access_key = yyyyyyyyyy

2) When launching an EC2 instance with ansible via the ansible ec2 module, the hosts variable should point to localhost and gather_facts should be set to False

3) The various parameters expected by the EC2 API (keypair name, instance type, VPN subnet, security group, instance name tag etc) can be set in the vars section and then used in the tasks section in the ec2 stanza.

4) I used the ansible route53 module for managing DNS. This module has a handy property called overwrite, which when set to yes will update a DNS record in place if it exists, or will create it if it doesn't exist.
5) The add_host task is very useful in that it adds the newly created instance to a hosts group, in my case api-servers. This host group has a group_vars/api-servers configuration file already, where I set various ansible variables used in different roles (mostly secret-type variables such as API keys, user names, passwords etc). The group_vars directory is NOT checked in.

6) In the final task of the playbook, the [api-servers] group (which consists of only the newly created EC2 instance) gets the respective roles applied to it. Why does this group only consist of the newly created EC2 instance? Because when I run the playbook with ansible-playbook, I indicate an empy hosts file to make sure this group is empty:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts/myhosts.empty ec2-launch-instance-api.yml

If instead I wanted to also apply the specified roles to my existing EC2 instances in that group, I would specify a hosts file that already has those instances defined in the [api-servers] group.


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