Deploying an SDDC with Ansible

The small effort I started at the end of last year using Ansible to deploy NSX components has snowballed a bit and found its way into a project at work. As we are working to deploy a new HCI architecture internally, one of the efforts we are embarking on is a fully automated, infrastructure-as-code architecture design. There are several components that are working in conjunction with one another to be able to accomplish that task, but the part I am going to talk about today is automation through Ansible.

As many of you have seen, I’ve recently been automating NSX component delivery and configuration using the open source VMware NSX Ansible modules. I’ve been fortunate enough to put my meager coding skills to work and enhance those models this year — adding new capabilities exposed through the API for NSX Edge configuration. In addition to the NSX Ansible modules, there are a multitude of upstream Ansible modules for VMware components. The first step was evaluating what the current upstream modules were capable of performing and putting together a small demo for my colleagues to observe both the power of Ansible and the ease of use.

My initial impressions of Ansible is that it is probably the most user-friendly of the configuration management/automation tools currently available. And for the VMware SDDC components, it appears to be rather robust. I have identified a few holes, but nothing insurmountable — the great thing is if something is exposed via an API, creating an Ansible module to leverage said API is rather simplistic.

The Ansible playbooks are a first step, I really want to convert most of them into Ansible roles. I’ve started committing the code in my Github space. You can download the playbooks and start using them if you’d like.

I currently have playbooks for creating a datacenter, cluster, adding hosts, configuring several advanced settings on each ESXi host, creating a DVS with port groups and performing a few other configuration tasks. The bit that I want to work out next is deployment of the vCenter server through Ansible. It’s currently a work in progress, but it has been a fun effort thus far.