Deploying Virtual Machines to vCenter with Ansible

During the #vDM30in30 challenge I started playing with Ansible to get to know it a bit better. One of the things I was curious about is the ability for Ansible to provision virtual machines directly to vCenter. After all if I am using Ansible to manage the configuration of my servers, it would certainly be nice to have a playbook that also deploys my virtual machine, rather than another provisioning tool.

If you don’t already have Ansible up and running, you can get the dependencies installed and Ansible project cloned from GitHub pretty easily with a vanilla CentOS box. Once Ansible is running and you have a playbook or two under your belt you can take a read at the Ansible vsphere_guest docs. This particular module is a bit lacking, I hope to add some updates soon and see if they get accepted.

As they mention in the docs, you will need to have pysphere installed; PySphere being a Python API to support interaction with vSphere/vCenter. PySphere is easy to install if you were able to follow along with my Installing Ansible from Git post; simply run

sudo pip install -U pysphere

With PySphere installed, you are now ready to create your playbook. The playbook example in the Ansible docs seemed to be missing something. Recall from my other posts you typically specify a host (linux box, not vSphere host) in your inventory file and direct the playbook that that host or groups of hosts, for example:

- hosts: db
  remote_user: virtxpert
  sudo: yes
  - name: update mysql-libs-latest 
    yum: pkg=mysql-libs state=latest

But, as you can see in the document ion, you specify the vSphere/ESXi host and vCenter server in the vsphere_guest task. So after a few iterations of trying to get that to work, I came across this page on GitHub. The hosts section is required for the playbook, but in this case the Ansible host will handle the work, instead of a remote host as you might typically see in a playbook to say configure a web server. So adding the following:

- hosts:
  connection: local
  user: root
  sudo: false
  gather_facts: false
  serial: 1

  - vsphere_guest:
      vcenter_hostname: vxprt-vc01.vxprt.local
      username: administrator@vxprt.local
      password: ********
      guest: testansible
      state: powered_on
        size_gb: 1
        type: thin
        datastore: vxprt-esxi01-gold-local
        type: vmxnet3
        network: vm
        network_type: standard
        memory_mb: 1024
        num_cpus: 1
        osid: centos64Guest
        scsi: paravirtual
        datacenter: dc01
        hostname: vxprt-esxi01.vxprt.local

With this playbook format in place, I am now able to run the playbook and have the virtual machine created in vCenter.

Up next, play around with vars_prompt in place of some of the item names so when the playbook is run, it will prompt the user for input and using Ansible to clone an existing vSphere template.