Exploring New Possibilities with the AWS Cloud Control Collection

Exploring New Possibilities with the AWS Cloud Control Collection

We recently made available an experimental alpha Collection of generated modules using the AWS Cloud Control API for interacting with AWS Services. This content is not intended for production in its current state. We are making this work available because we thought it was important to share our research and get your feedback.

In this post, we'll highlight how to try out this alpha release of the new amazon.cloud content Collection

The AWS Cloud Control API

Launched in September 2021 and featured at AWS re:Invent, AWS Cloud Control API is a set of common application programming interfaces (APIs) that provides five operations for developers to create, read, update, delete, and list (CRUDL) resources and make it easy for developers and partners to manage the lifecycle of AWS and third-party services in a standard way.

The Cloud Control API provides support for hundreds of AWS resources today with support for more existing AWS resources across services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) in the coming months.

AWS delivers a broad and deep portfolio of cloud services. It started with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and grew over 200+ services. Each distinct AWS service has a specific API with its own vocabulary, input parameters, and error reporting. As these APIs are unique to each service, developers have to understand the behavior (input, responses, and error codes) of each API they use. As applications have become increasingly sophisticated and developers work across more AWS services, it can become challenging to learn and manage distinct APIs for developers.

With the launch of AWS Cloud Control API, developers have a consistent method to manage supported services that are defined as part of their cloud infrastructure throughout their lifecycle, so there are fewer APIs to learn as developers add new services to their infrastructure.

Why AWS Cloud Control API is important to Ansible

While not directly affecting Ansible content authors automating AWS services, we believe the Cloud Control API will be beneficial in providing a better cloud automation experience.

The most noteworthy is that it enables the rapid introduction of new AWS services and implementation of new features to existing ones. This will also enable more comprehensive coverage of the vast number of AWS services available. This can be further extended to include third-party services running in the AWS cloud that have adopted the Cloud Control API.

The modules contained in this Collection are generated using a tool called amazon_cloud_code_generator - developed and open sourced by the Ansible Cloud team.

amazon.cloud collection generation flow diagram

As you can see in the flow diagram, the Collection can be easily deployed using tox -e refresh_modules, and it is generated in the cloud subdirectory by default.

Basically, the generation process leverages some Python utility scripts that wrap the AWS CloudFormation client to scrape Resource Type Definition Schema or meta-schema for each Amazon-supported resource and performs the necessary processing to generate module  documentation.

Additional processing logic generates all utilities including modules, modules_utils, and tests.

For example, module_utils contains a base class that can be used by all resource modules to provide all the necessary methods to create, update, delete, describe and list with the appropriate logic to wait, paginate, and gracefully handle botocore exceptions. 

Using the amazon.cloud Collection

All the modules of this Collection use boto3 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Software Development Kit (SDK) for Python and AWS Cloud Control API (CloudControlApi) client. It requires:

The basic task example

Let's take a look at a practical example of how to use the amazon.cloud Collection. Perhaps you need to provision a simple AWS S3 bucket and then describe it.

If you are already using the amazon.aws and community.aws Collections, you can see the tasks syntax is pretty much similar.

You may notice that we no longer have info modules, but the "get" or "describe" and "list" features that the info modules were doing are handled in the main module. This certainly simplifies the Collection usage and improves user experience.

- name: Create a simple S3 bucket with public access block configuration
    state: present
    bucket_name: {{ local_bucket_name }}
      block_public_acls: true
      block_public_policy: true
      ignore_public_acls: true
      restrict_public_buckets: true
  register: _result_create

- name: Gather information about the S3 bucket
    state: get
    bucket_name: {{ local_bucket_name }}
  register: _result_info
- name: Create a simple S3 bucket with public access block configuration
    state: present
    name: {{ local_bucket_name }}
      block_public_acls: true
      block_public_policy: true
      ignore_public_acls: true
      restrict_public_buckets: true
  register: _result_create

- name: Gather information about the S3 bucket
    name: {{ local_bucket_name }}
  register: _result_info

Another relevant feature of the amazon.cloud content Collection is the structure of the returned result. Particularly, the result returned by all the available operations (present, absent, list and get or describe) is well-structured and uniform across all the modules. It always contains the identifier of the resource and a dictionary of resource-specific properties. 

In this way, we can straightforwardly get the identifier of each resource and re-use it in multiple dependent resources.

This feature has definitely a positive impact on the user experience.

    "identifier": "090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb",
    "properties": {
        "arn": "arn:aws:s3:::090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb",
        "bucket_name": "090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb",
        "domain_name": "090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb.s3.amazonaws.com",
        "dual_stack_domain_name": "090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb.s3.dualstack.us-east-1.amazonaws.com",
        "regional_domain_name": "090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com",
        "website_url": "http://090ba2aa-cc0c-5a40-9b5f-a2d2b8fc6ceb.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com"

Known issues and shortcomings

  • Generated modules like these are only as good as the API and its schema. Documentation may not be complete for all the modules options.

  • Missing supportability for important AWS resources like, EC2 instance, volume and snapshot, RDS instance and snapshot, Elastic Load Balancer, etc. Resources from some of these AWS services are expected to be supported in the coming months.

  • Idempotency (desired state) is a function of the API and may not be fully supported. In the Cloud Control API, the idempotency is achieved using the ClientToken. A ClientToken, which is valid for 36 hours once used. 

    • After that, a resource request with the same client token is treated as a new request. 
    • To overcome this limitation, the modules present in this Collection handle the idempotency by performing a first get_resource(TypeName='', Identifier='') operation using the resource identifier. 
  • Missing server-side pagination may have a severe impact on performance. As you may know, some AWS operations return results that are incomplete and require subsequent requests in order to attain the entire result set. Paginators are a feature of boto3 that act as an abstraction over the process of iterating over an entire result set of a truncated API operation. Cloud Control API lacks this functionality at the moment. This limitation is handled in this Collection by implementing manual client-side paginators.

  • Filtering to provide name based identification to support desired state (idempotency) logic like in amazon.aws is absent. In practice it means you cannot list all the resources and filter the result on the server-side. 

    • For example, several modules do not allow the user to set a primaryIdentifier at creation time. One possible solution would be to allow the user to set a resource name and use that name to set [Tag:Name, but as the API does not allow server-side resource filtering, we can only implement a client-side filtering using that tag information. This approach would definitely have a severe impact on performance. 
  • Not all the resources support the available states. In practice this means that some resources cannot be updated or listed.

What is next?

The new amazon.cloud auto-generated Collection, besides the fact that it can be easily generated using the generator tool and has a pretty abstract set of APIs for all modules, is very straightforward to use and to re-use resources across multiple dependent resources.

We continually strive to:

  • Make a Collection\'s API generated modules more usable and easier to work with. 
  • Increase resource supportability and cover wider use case scenarios more quickly.
  • Improve the overall Collection module's performance.

What can we do to improve provisioning AWS cloud resources with Ansible? More broadly, what can we do to make API generated modules more usable and easier to work with? We'd like to hear what you think.

You can provide feedback by reporting any issue against the amazon.cloud GitHub repository.

Because the modules are auto-generated, you can contribute with GitHub Pull Requests by opening them against the amazon_cloud_code_generator tool and not the resulting Collection.

In conclusion

Although in its alpha version, the new amazon.cloud content Collection shows enormous potential for automating your deployments on AWS with Ansible and greatly increasing the chances of your cloud initiative being successful. 

We hope you found this blog post helpful! But, more importantly, we hope it inspired you to try out the latest amazon.cloud Collection release and let us know what you think.

Automation at the Edge, Summit 2022

Automation at the Edge, Summit 2022

As some of you may know, Red Hat Summit was back in person in Boston last week. For those who are not familiar, Red Hat Summit is the premier enterprise open source event for IT professionals to learn, collaborate, and innovate on technologies from the datacenter and public cloud to the edge and beyond. Red Hat made a lot of exciting announcements, with several that included Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform. If you could not make the event or would like to revisit some of the content, you can access any session on demand

One of the big announcements at Summit was the unveiling of new levels of security from the software supply chain to the edge. In Ansible Automation Platform 2.2, Red Hat is introducing a technical preview of Ansible content signing technology. The new capability helps with software supply chain security by enabling automation teams to validate that the automation content being executed in their enterprise is verified and trusted. 

With the announcement of this new edge capability, we showcased a session for Ansible and edge that is available on demand. The session "GitOps your distributed edge computing model with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform" covers how Ansible Automation Platform, in combination with GitOps, can decrease the time to market and repair time to deploy and operate network edge infrastructure. It includes a demo that shows how to describe a deployment in Git, which works as a single source of truth. You will be able to see how Ansible Automation Platform enforces the correct state of the network infrastructure of a large-scale organization and its tracking through IT Service Management. 

Scaling automation anywhere using Ansible Automation Platform Red Hat introduced new cross-portfolio edge capabilities, including features in Ansible Automation Platform that solves the management and automation needs to drive visibility and consistency across an organization's edge deployments. 

The session "Ansible Automation Platform 2 automation mesh-starting locally, scaling globally" covers how to scale automation to successfully execute in distributed edge locations. 

Automating RHEL at the edge with Ansible

If you watched the keynote presentation, you heard about the release of a SaaS Edge Manager. However, we realize not everyone can use the cloud to manage their fleet. Below is how to add a postscript to your kickstart file to register your devices directly to an Ansible Automation Platform inventory so you can use it to manage your fleet.

# Create ansible playbook to register device to Ansible automation platform
cat > /tmp/add_to_aap.yml <<EOF
- hosts: localhost
 gather_facts: true
   - name: create hostname from regex of mac address
       edge_hostname: "{{ ansible_default_ipv4.macaddress | replace(':','') }}"
   - name: set hostname to mac ansible_all_ipv4_address
       name: "summit-demo-{{ edge_hostname }}"
       use: systemd
   - name: Update Ansible Tower inventory
      url: "{{ aap_url }}"
      user: "{{ aap_ks_user }}"
      password: "{{ aap_ks_password }}"
      method: POST
        name: "{{ ansible_hostname }}"
        variables: '{ipaddress: "{{ ansible_all_ipv4_addresses }}", macaddress: "{{ ansible_default_ipv4.macaddress }}" }'
      force_basic_auth: yes
      status_code: 201
      body_format: json
      validate_certs: no
ansible-playbook /tmp/add_to_aap.yml

Step 1: Inventory creation

  • Create the inventory in Ansible Automation Platform, and get the inventory number.

  • Get the URL: in this example, the inventory ID is 2:

    url example


  • Assign aap_url in vars section: aap_url = https://AAPHOST.fqdn.com/api/v2/inventories/2/hosts/

Step 2: Create credentials in Ansible Automation Platform

Assign credentials to aap_ks_user and aap_ks_password in the Access Users tab in Ansible Automation Platform.

Step 3: Check Ansible Automation Platform

You should now see your devices in Ansible Automation Platform after they boot up.


Introducing a brand new way to automate your Azure cloud

Introducing a brand new way to automate your Azure cloud

In December of 2021, Red Hat and Microsoft announced Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Microsoft Azure

This year during Red Hat Summit 2022, Red Hat announced the general availability of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Microsoft Azure across North America with global availability coming soon.  

I'd like to spend some time providing some more details about this offering and why you should consider Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure.

Azure Marketplace deployment

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure deploys from the Azure Marketplace as a managed application.  It deploys directly into your Azure subscription, but as the publisher of the application, Red Hat has access to a shared and secured managed resource group to support, maintain, and upgrade your deployment. More specifically, a dedicated Red Hat SRE team deals with all the ongoing management of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, while you focus on expanding your automation strategy within your organization across the hybrid cloud.


Azure Integrations

For many organizations using Azure today, there are huge benefits to take advantage of with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure. It runs in your Azure subscription. It integrates seamlessly with many of the Azure services, including Azure billing. Also, if you have a Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment agreement (MACC), the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure deployment costs will count towards your MACC, and will be reflected on your Azure bill.  Oh, and did I mention that Red Hat supports the deployment, and you can automate, automate, and automate some more!

Once you've deployed Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, with a few simple configuration steps you can integrate into your Azure active directory (AD) environment for authentication.


There's great automation content available for you to leverage with examples to learn from if you're new to Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure.

Here's a GitHub repository that has automation content for automating many Azure resources, like Azure Load Balancers, Azure PostgreSQL, Azure Networking, Azure Security groups, and more. Shortly, I'll highlight some more as we discuss the Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for Microsoft Azure.

Here's an image of some sample content.


Content is King!

Anyone using Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure will definitely want to use the Red Hat Ansible Certified Content Collection for Microsoft Azure. But with your subscription, you have access to all the Red Hat Ansible Certified Content at your fingertips!


The Azure Collection includes over 250 modules to interrogate, manage, and automate numerous Azure resource types. From Azure AD, to networking, to DB, to AKS, to storage, to backup, to VMs, to security groups, to IAM... and so much more.  


If you'd like to see the full list of modules you can check it out here on the Automation automation hub.  

Here's an example of an Ansible Automation Platform workflow template linking together many job templates to perform a larger automation task.  In this case, spinning up a full development environment for the DevOps team.


Go deeper, go wider, and achieve more!

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure includes an automation execution environment already tailored for cloud automation so you have everything you need to get started on Azure immediately. Having said that, a question that often comes up is:  "if I'm using Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, does that mean I can only perform automation against Azure resources?" The great thing about Ansible Automation Platform in general is that it doesn't matter where you are running it from. In the case Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, you are able to automate public cloud, private cloud, physical and virtual environments, and edge resources.  Obviously, one of the requirements here is having proper networking connectivity to other environments. Deploy Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform on Azure, and automate anywhere!

Often, when people think about the Ansible Automation Platform they think configuration Management. However, configuration management is just one of the many use cases that Ansible Automation Platform can accomplish. So many organizations today take advantage of Ansible Automation Platform to automate network and security use cases, integrate into IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions like ServiceNow, Linux automation, Windows automation, and monitoring and analytics solutions.  

Additionally, with the aggressive push to application modernization, many organizations use Ansible Automation Platform to integrate into their DevOps CI/CD pipelines. Are you using Azure DevOps, Jenkins, or other CI/CD tools? Cool, have your pipelines at any phase kick off Ansible Automation Platform automation jobs!  

The automation use cases are endless, and there are so many efficiencies and savings to be gained by leveraging Ansible Automation Platform, not to mention the reduction in human errors, and the increased cross-silo collaboration.