Dynamic Azure Automation with Ansible

Recently I came across a requirement wherein we were supposed to do the end-to-end automation in the Azure virtual machine. The requirement was to:

  1. Install and configure Virtual Machine: Installing and configuring Virtual Machine, Open specific ports, and VM template.
  2. Install Mongo DB software and perform post-install configurations: Installing Mongo DB and then configure it based on standard best practices. Restore Mongo DB Data, create users and perform post-install configurations.
  3. Install Tomcat and carry out the application-specific configurations: Deploy Tomcat and configure manager and admin access. Perform application-specific post-install configurations.
  4. Install and configure application-specific configurations: Deploy application binaries, change application files as per software requirements like URL, etc.

Here is the step-by-step video demo and instructions.

1. Create a CentOS 8.X VM in Azure with a Static IP address

First, we need to create Azure VM and then install an Ansible controller on the newly built VM.

2. Execute pre-installation tasks on the VM.

We need to execute pre-installation steps so we can install ansible :

     dnf update
     which python3
     alternatives --set python /usr/bin/python3
     pip3 --version
     yum install python3-devel
    yum groupinstall 'development tools'
    pip3 install --upgrade pip
    pip3 --version

3. Installing Ansible on Virtual Machine for Azure Automation

We need to install ansible with PIp and when you use PIP for ansible installation you will not have the ansible.cfg file so you need to create this directory structure /etc/ansible/ and then copy the ansible.cfg from this link. https://github.com/ansible/ansible/blob/devel/examples/ansible.cfg once the cfg file content is copied we need to change the deprecation_warnings = False.

       pip3 install ansible[azure]

       ansible-galaxy collection install azure.azcollection
       ansible --version
       wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ansible-collections/azure/dev/requirements-azure.txt
       pip3 install -r requirements-azure.txt
       pip install msrestazure

       vi /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
       #Update this value in the cfg file 
       deprecation_warnings = False

4. Create Azure Credentials to login to Azure via Ansible

Ansible uses the Azure service principle to execute the commands on azure. So we need to execute these commands in azure-CLI (you can use Azure portal) to create the service principle.

Step1: az ad sp create-for-rbac –name ansible

The above command will provide the app ID put the appid in the following command and execute it 

Step 2: az role assignment create –assignee <appID> –role Contributor

Step3: az account show –query ‘{tenantId:tenantId,subscriptionid:id}’;

Step4: Create Service principal secret as shown below:

Now populate the credential file with subscription, client_id, secret, and tenant info retrieved from the above sections. First, we need to create the azure directory in this path ~/.azure. then we need to create the credential file.

       mkdir ~/.azure
       vi ~/.azure/credentials

#Now copy these settings into the credentials file


5. Creating Ansible Automation Playbook

We have used ansible playbooks to create the Azure Virtual Machine with service principles. The entire code can be accessed from the GitHub repo: https://github.com/rajaniesh/dynamic-azure-automation

5.1 Deploy_vm_and_software Playbook.

This is the main playbook that creates the azure VM and imports other playbooks provided below. This is the main controller playbook. In this playbook, we have populated azure VM-specific variables and used them while creating the VM. We have used add host task in ansible to dynamically create the in-memory inventory since we do not know the IP address of the VM beforehand.

Once we have the IP address we can use that IP address to log in to the VM and deploy the software via roles. I have created two roles:

  1. MongoDB deployment role
  2. Tomcat deployment role
- name: Create Azure VM
  hosts: localhost
    FinalUrl: :8080/
    httpString: http://
    resource_group: rg_az_dynamic_automation
    azure_location: eastus
    vnet_name: azure_vnet
    address_prefix: ""
    subnet_prefix: ""
    public_ip_name: vm_public_ip
    nsg_name: az_NSG
    nic_name: az_NIC
    vm_name: azautomationvm
    username: azureuser
    password: Welcome@123456
    vm_offer_name: UbuntuServer
    vm_publisher_name: Canonical
    vm_sku_name: '18.04-LTS'
    size_of_vm: Standard_DS1_v2
  connection: local
  - name: Create resource group
      name: "{{resource_group}}"
      location: "{{azure_location}}"
  - name: Create virtual network
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      name: "{{vnet_name}}"
      address_prefixes: "{{address_prefix}}"
  - name: Add subnet
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      name: default
      address_prefix: "{{subnet_prefix}}"
      virtual_network: "{{vnet_name}}"
  - name: Create public IP address
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      allocation_method: Static
      name: "{{public_ip_name}}"
    register: output_ip_address
  - name: Dump public IP for VM which will be created
      msg: "The public IP is {{ output_ip_address.state.ip_address }}."
  - name: Create Network Security Group that allows SSH
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      name: "{{nsg_name}}"
        - name: SSH
          protocol: Tcp
          destination_port_range: 22
          access: Allow
          priority: 1001
          direction: Inbound
        - name: allow-tomcat
          protocol: Tcp
          destination_port_range: 8080
          access: Allow
          priority: 1002
          direction: Inbound
        - name: allow-MongoDB
          protocol: Tcp
          destination_port_range: 27017
          access: Allow
          priority: 1003
          direction: Inbound
  - name: Create virtual network interface card
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      name: "{{nic_name}}"
      virtual_network: "{{vnet_name}}"
      subnet: default
      public_ip_name: "{{public_ip_name}}"
      security_group: "{{nsg_name}}"
  - name: Create VM
      resource_group: "{{resource_group}}"
      name: "{{vm_name}}"
      vm_size: "{{size_of_vm}}"
      admin_username: "{{username}}"
      admin_password: "{{password}}"
      network_interfaces: "{{nic_name}}"
        offer: "{{vm_offer_name}}"
        publisher: "{{vm_publisher_name}}"
        sku: "{{vm_sku_name}}"
        version: latest

  - name: add host
      name: vmServer
      ansible_ssh_host: "{{output_ip_address.state.ip_address}}"
      groups: vm
      ansible_connection: ssh
      ansible_ssh_pass: Welcome@123456

  - name: set teamsMsg
      teamsMsg: "{{httpString + output_ip_address.state.ip_address + FinalUrl}}"

  - name: set ipaddressToSend
      ipaddressToSend: "{{output_ip_address.state.ip_address}}"

  - name: Creating a vmtargetIPAddress.txt
      dest: "/home/azureuser/vmtargetIPAddress.txt"
      content: |

- name: Import install_softwares.yml playbook
  import_playbook: install_softwares.yml

- name: Include WebHook playbook
  import_playbook: teams_webhooks.yml
     teamsMsgToSend: "{{teamsMsg}}"

- name: Import Delete IP address
  import_playbook: deleteIPaddress.yml

5.2 DeleteIPaddress Playbook

DeleteIP address playbook is used to delete the IP address file. While creating the VM we are storing the IP address of the newly created VM in the text file and later on we are using this IP address to send the messages to the Teams webhook. Once the playbook is executed we are deleting this file so that when the next time playbook runs it generates the new IP address instead of using the old IP address.

- name: Delete IP address file
  hosts: localhost

  - name: set address variable
      address: "{{lookup('file', '/home/azureuser/vmtargetIPAddress.txt') }}"

  - name: update address variable
      address: "{{address | replace('\"','') }}"

  - name: Display the Application URL
     msg: " The sketch url is : http://{{address }}:8080"

  - name:  delete IPAddress file
      path: /home/azureuser/vmtargetIPAddress.txt
      state: absent

5.3 Install_softwares playbook

Install_softwares playbook is used to deploy MongoDB and Tomcat via ansible roles. Ansible provides the prewritten roles in ansible-galaxy and you can use preexisting roles from ansible-galaxy.

I have created two ansible roles to deploy the software:

  1. MongoDB deployment role
  2. Tomcat deployment role
- name: install Mongo and Tomcat
  hosts:  vm
  become: yes
  become_method: sudo       # Set become method
  remote_user: azureuser         # Update username for remote server

    tomcat_ver: 9.0.30                          # Tomcat version to install
    ui_manager_user: manager                    # User who can access the UI manager section only
    ui_manager_pass: Str0ngManagerP@ssw3rd      # UI manager user password
    ui_admin_username: admin                    # User who can access bpth manager and admin UI sections
    ui_admin_pass: Str0ngAdminP@ssw3rd
    # UI admin password
    - install_mongodb
    - install_tomcat

You can extend this code by adding your own software deployment logic.

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