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Updated by edureka.co on May 21, 2019
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Top Ansible Interview Questions And Answers

Automation has become the most integral part of any software development cycle. From automating development systems to configuring the production environments, Ansible makes automation and Configuration Management seem like a walk in the park. In this Ansible Interview Questions blog, I have collected the most frequently asked questions by interviewers. These questions are collected after consulting with DevOps Certification Training Experts.

1

What is Configuration Management and how does it help an organization?

Configuration Management is the practice of handling updates and changes systematically so that a system maintains its integrity over time. Configuration Management (CM) keeps a track of all the updates that are needed in a system and it ensures that the current design and build state of the system is up to date and functioning correctly.

Configuration Management can help an organization by overcoming the following challenges:

Finding out what changes need to be implemented when user requirements change.
Redoing and updating an implementation due to change in the requirements since the last implementation.
Reverting to an older version of the component because the latest version is flawed.
Replacing the wrong component because you couldn’t accurately determine which component needed replacing.
To better understand this consider the NYSE example:

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) encountered a glitch in their software which prevented them from trading stocks for approx 90 minutes. On the night before, new software was installed on 8 of its 20 trading terminals. Unfortunately, the software failed to operate properly on the 8 terminals.

Therefore, by using Configuration Management tools such as Ansible and Puppet, they reverted back to the old software. Had they not implemented CM, they would’ve taken a much longer time to fix the issue which would lead to a much bigger loss.

2

How would you install Ansible on a CentOS system?

This can be done in two simple steps:

Step 1: Set up EPEL Repository

EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) is an open source and free community-based repository project from Fedora team which provides high-quality add-on software packages for Linux distribution including RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), CentOS, and Scientific Linux.

The Ansible package is not available in the default yum repositories, so we will enable EPEL repository by using the below command:

sudo rpm -ivh http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/i386/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm

This will download all the necessary packages which will be required to install Ansible.

Step 2: Install Ansible

Now that your EPEL repository has been added, all you have to do now is install Ansible using the command below:

yum install ansible -y

That’s all! It’s a two-step process that barely takes a minute!

If you wish to check the version of Ansible installed on your system, use the command below:

ansible –version

3

Explain a few of the basic terminologies or concepts in Ansible.

Few of the basic terms that are commonly used while operating on Ansible are:

Controller Machine: The Controller machine is responsible for provisioning the servers that are being managed. It is the machine where Ansible is installed.

Inventory: An inventory is an initialization file that has details about the different servers you are managing.

Playbook: It is a code file written in the YAML format. A playbook basically contains the tasks that need to be executed or automated.

Task: Each task represents a single procedure that needs to be executed, e.g. Install a library.

Module: A module is a set of tasks that can be executed. Ansible has 100s of built-in modules, but you can also create custom ones.

Role: An Ansible role is a pre-defined way for organizing playbooks and other files in order to facilitate sharing and reusing portions of provisioning.

Play: A task executed from start to finish or the execution of a playbook is called a play.

Facts: Facts are global variables that store details about the system, like network interfaces or operating system.

Handlers: Are used to trigger the status of a service, such as restarting or stopping a service.

4

Explain the concept behind Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a process for managing and operating data servers, storage systems, system configurations, and network infrastructure.

In traditional configuration management practices, each minute configuration change required manual action by system administrators and the IT support team. But with IaC, all the configuration details are managed and stored in a standardized file system, wherein the system automatically manages infrastructure changes and deals with system configurations.

Therefore, we do not require most of the manual effort since everything is managed and automated by following the IaC approach. Tools such as Ansible can be used to implement IaC approach.

5

What is Ansible Galaxy?

Galaxy is a website that lets Ansible users share their roles and modules. The Ansible Galaxy command line tool comes packed with Ansible, and it can be used to install roles from Galaxy or directly from a Source Control Management system such as Git. It can also be used to build new roles, remove existing ones and perform tasks on the Galaxy website.

You can use the below command to download roles from the Galaxy website:

$ansible-galaxy install username.role_name

6

What are variables in Ansible?

Variables in Ansible are very similar to variables in any programming language. Just like any other variable, an Ansible variable is assigned a value which is used in computing playbooks. You can also use conditions around the variables. Here’s an example:

- hosts : your hosts
vars:
port_Tomcat : 8080

Here, we’ve defined a variable called port_Tomcat and assigned the port number 8080 to it. Such a variable can be used in the Ansible Playbook.

7

What are Ansible Modules? Explain the different types.

Ansible modules are a small set of programs that perform a specific task. Modules can be used to automate a wide range of tasks. Modules in Ansible are considered to be idempotent or in other words, making multiple identical requests has the same effect as making a single request.

There are 2 types of modules in Ansible:

Core modules
Extras modules

Core Modules

These are modules that the core Ansible team maintains and will always ship with Ansible itself. They will also receive a slightly higher priority for all requests than those in the “extras” repos. The source of these modules is hosted by Ansible on GitHub in the Ansible-modules-core.

Extras Modules

These modules are currently shipped with Ansible but might be shipped separately in the future. They are also mostly maintained by the Ansible community. Non-core modules are still fully usable but may receive slightly lower response rates for issues and pull requests.

Popular “extras” modules may be promoted to core modules over time. The source for these modules is hosted by Ansible on GitHub in the Ansible-modules-extras.

8

How would you access a variable of the first host in a group?

This can be done by executing the below command:

{{ hostvars[groups['webservers'][0]]['ansible_eth0']['ipv4']['address'] }}

In the above command, we’re basically accessing the hostname of the first machine in the webservers group. If you’re using a template to do this, use the Jinja2 ‘#set’ or you can also use set_fact, like shown below:

**_- set_fact: headnode={{ groups[['webservers'][0]] }}

  • debug: msg={{ hostvars[headnode].ansible_eth0.ipv4.address }}_**
9

What is Ansible role and how are they different from the playbook?

Ansible Roles is basically another level of abstraction used to organize playbooks. They provide a skeleton for an independent and reusable collection of variables, tasks, templates, files, and modules which can be automatically loaded into the playbook. Playbooks are a collection of roles. Every role has specific functionality.

Let’s understand the difference between Ansible roles and playbook with an example.

Suppose you want your playbook to perform 10 different tasks on 5 different systems, would you use a single playbook for this? No, using a single playbook can make it confusing and prone to blunders. Instead, you can create 10 different roles, where each role will perform one task. Then, all you need to do is, mention the name of the role inside the playbook to call them.

10

How to keep secret data in a playbook?

Suppose you have a task that you don’t want to show the output or command given to it when using -v (verbose) mode, the following task can be used to do it:
_**

  • name: secret task shell: /usr/bin/do_something --value={{ secret_value }} no_log: True**_

This can be used to keep verbose output but hide sensitive information from others who would otherwise like to be able to see the output.

The no_log attribute can also apply to an entire play:

- hosts: all
no_log: True

11

What are Ansible Vaults and why are they used?

Ansible Vault is a feature that allows you to keep all your secrets safe. It can encrypt entire files, entire YAML playbooks or even a few variables. It provides a facility where you can not only encrypt sensitive data but also integrate them into your playbooks.

Vault is implemented with file-level granularity where the files are either entirely encrypted or entirely unencrypted. It uses the same password for encrypting as well as for decrypting files which makes using Ansible Vault very user-friendly.

12

What features does Ansible Tower provide?

Ansible Tower Dashboard – The Ansible Tower dashboard displays everything going on in your Ansible environment like the hosts, inventory status, the recent job activity and so on.

Real-Time Job Updates – As Ansible can automate the complete infrastructure, you can see real-time job updates, like plays and tasks broken down by each machine either been successful or a failure. So, with this, you can see the status of your automation, and know what’s next in the queue.

Multi-Playbook Workflows – This feature allows you to chain any number of playbooks, regardless of the usage of different inventories, utilizes various credentials, or runs different users.

Who Ran What Job When – As the name suggests, you can easily know who ran what job where and when as, all the automation activity is securely logged in Ansible Tower.

Scale Capacity With Clusters – We can connect multiple Ansible Tower nodes into an Ansible Tower cluster as the clusters add redundancy and capacity, which allow you to scale Ansible automation across the enterprise.

Integrated Notifications – This feature lets you notify a person or team when a job succeeds or fails across the entire organization at once, or customize on a per-job basis.

Schedule Ansible Jobs – Different kinds of jobs such as Playbook runs, cloud inventory updates, and source control updates can be scheduled inside Ansible Tower to run according to the need.

Manage & Track Inventory – Ansible Tower helps you manage your entire infrastructure by letting you easily pull inventory from public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and more.

Self-Service – This feature of Ansible Tower lets you launch Playbooks with just a single click. It can also, let you choose from available secure credentials or prompt you for variables and monitor the resulting deployments.

REST API & Tower CLI Tool – Every feature present in Ansible Tower is available via Ansible Tower’s REST API, which provides the ideal API for a systems management infrastructure. The Ansible Tower’s CLI tool is available for launching jobs from CI systems such as Jenkins, or when you need to integrate with other command line tools.

Remote Command Execution – You can run simple tasks such as add users, restart any malfunctioning service, reset passwords on any host or group of hosts in the inventory with Ansible Tower’s remote command execution.

13

How is Ansible used in a Continuous Delivery pipeline? Explain.

How is Ansible used in a Continuous Delivery pipeline? Explain.

It is well known that in DevOps development and operations work is integrated. This integration is very important for modern test-driven applications. Hence, Ansible integrates this by providing a stable environment to both development and operations resulting in a smooth delivery pipeline.

When developers begin to think of infrastructure as part of their application i.e as Infrastructure as code (IaC), stability and performance become normative. Infrastructure as Code is the process of managing and provisioning computing infrastructure and their configuration through machine-processable definition files, rather than physical hardware configuration or the use of interactive configuration tools. This is where Ansible automation plays a major role and stands out among its peers.

In a Continuous Delivery pipeline, Sysadmins work tightly with developers, development velocity is improved, and more time is spent doing activities like performance tuning, experimenting, and getting things done, and less time is spent fixing problems.

14

Suppose you’re using Ansible to configure the production environment and your playbook uses an encrypted file. Encryp...

Yes, Ansible uses a feature called password file, where all the passwords to your encrypted files can be saved. So each time the user is asked for the password, he can simply make a call to the password file. The password is automatically read and entered by Ansible.

$ ansible-playbook launch.yml --vault-password-file ~/ .vault_pass.txt

Having a separate script that specifies the passwords is also possible. You need to make sure the script file is executable and the password is printed to standard output for it to work without annoying errors.

$ ansible-playbook launch.yml --vault-password-file ~/ .vault_pass.py

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