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6 steps to automating code pushes with Ansible Automation Platform

Use a Git push to trigger an Ansible Automation Platform playbook execution in six easy steps.
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Automating code pushes with Ansible Tower

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Ansible Automation Platform (AAP) is an enterprise solution by Red Hat to make Ansible easier to use. It comes bundled with a lot of components to help you automate your processes across the entire Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It provides you with various features such as Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), workflows, third-party integration via an API, notifications, shared SSH key credentials, and more. It also integrates well with LDAP and comes with pre-configured logging.

[ You might also like: Using Ansible Automation Webhooks for GitOps ]

Understanding the problem

The process looks like this: The development team changes the code and pushes the code to the Git repository used by the product. Once the code has been updated, the DevOps team pulls the latest code and then pushes it to the required servers via a playbook. 
The problem? The latest code must be downloaded manually every time and then pushed to the required servers. I'm going to show you how to automate that process.

Bringing in the solution

AAP supports integration with GitHub and GitLab. This integration is accomplished using a webhook. A webhook is a user-defined HTTP callback action that is triggered by an event such as updating a piece of code and pushing it to a repository. The action triggered, in this case, is the execution of a playbook on the desired managed hosts.

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user to gitlab to ansible tower to servers
Figure 1: Changes go from user to GitLab to AAP to the target servers.

In the above diagram, the user pushes the latest code to the GitLab repository, triggering an event. The event is the code being pushed to the repository. This event further triggers an HTTP-based webhook that communicates with AAP via its API. This informs AAP to run the desired template on the selected inventory.

Configure an AAP webhook with GitLab:

So how does this process work? I've broken it down into six steps to make it easier to understand.

Step 1: Create a GitLab personal access token

Navigate to User Settings in your GitLab account and create a personal access token. This credential is used to establish an API connection to GitLab for use with webhook listener jobs to post status updates.

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create a personal access token
Figure 2: Create a personal access token.

Step 2: Configure the GitLab personal access token

Create a new credential in AAP with the type, GitLab Personal Access Token. Provide a relevant name and organization, and then input your token.

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web page to create a new credential
Figure 3: Create a new credential in AAP

Step 3: Enable webhooks in AAP Template

Go to your AAP Template and check the Webhook button. This will require you to enter the webhook service, which is GitLab. Choose your previously created credential in the Webhook Credential option. Copy the Webhook URL and Webhook Key you were given and save the settings.

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Enable webooks
Figure 4: Enable webhooks.

Step 4: Enable the webhook in the GitLab project

Navigate to the Webhook Settings of your GitLab project. Input the Webhook URL and Webhook Key you copied from the AAP Template. Choose Push events as the trigger because we wish to execute the template when the latest code is pushed. Disable SSL verification if your AAP does not have a valid SSL certificate.

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Managing webhooks
Figure 5: Managing webhooks.

Step 5: Make changes to your code and push to the repository

Push your changes to the GitLab repository via the GitLab interface or the Git CLI.

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A Git push
Figure 6: A git push command.

Step 6: Verify the Template execution

Navigate to Jobs in AAP. Your template should be in the process of execution or successfully executed. Notice the Launched By and the Extra Variables field. You will see the user as webhook and the extra variables employed by the webhook to complete the execution successfully.

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Verify the template execution
Figure 7: Verify the template execution.

[ Looking for more on system automation? Get started with The Automated Enterprise, a free book from Red Hat. ] 

Wrap up

Automation has become a necessity in any organization’s management of its infrastructure. Using technologies like webhooks will make it easier for a system administrator to automatically deploy the latest changes on their managed hosts via an enterprise solution such as Ansible Automation Platform.

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Author’s photo

Aryan Srivastava

Technological consultant and instructor for a Red Hat training partner based in India. Works on Ansible Tower, Red Hat Satellite, Python, and Ethical Hacking. Experience in delivering security and automation solutions as per business needs. More about me

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