Ansible for Network Automation: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you tired of manually configuring your network devices? Do you want to automate your network infrastructure and save time? If yes, then Ansible is the tool for you!

Ansible is an open-source automation tool that can be used for network automation, configuration management, and application deployment. It is easy to learn, scalable, and can be used to manage networks of any size.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore Ansible for network automation. We will cover the basics of Ansible, how to install and configure it, and how to use it for network automation. So, let's get started!

What is Ansible?

Ansible is an open-source automation tool that can be used for configuration management, application deployment, and network automation. It was created by Michael DeHaan in 2012 and is now maintained by Red Hat.

Ansible uses a simple and easy-to-learn language called YAML (Yet Another Markup Language) for defining automation tasks. It uses SSH (Secure Shell) for communication with remote devices and does not require any agents or additional software to be installed on the target devices.

Ansible is agentless, meaning that it does not require any software to be installed on the target devices. This makes it easy to use and deploy, as there is no need to install any additional software on the target devices.

Installing Ansible

Before we can start using Ansible for network automation, we need to install it. Ansible can be installed on any Linux distribution, including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, and Red Hat.

To install Ansible on Ubuntu, run the following command:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ansible

To install Ansible on CentOS, run the following command:

sudo yum install epel-release
sudo yum install ansible

Once Ansible is installed, we can start using it for network automation.

Ansible Playbooks

Ansible uses playbooks to define automation tasks. Playbooks are written in YAML and define a set of tasks that Ansible will execute on the target devices.

A playbook consists of one or more plays, and each play consists of one or more tasks. A task is a single action that Ansible will perform on the target device.

Here is an example playbook that configures a Cisco router:

- name: Configure Cisco Router
  hosts: cisco
  gather_facts: no
  connection: network_cli

    - name: Configure hostname
          - hostname R1
      register: result

    - name: Configure interface
          - interface GigabitEthernet0/0
          - ip address
          - no shutdown
      register: result

This playbook configures the hostname and interface of a Cisco router. The hosts parameter specifies the target device, and the ios_config module is used to configure the device.

Ansible Modules

Ansible uses modules to perform automation tasks. Modules are small pieces of code that can be used to perform specific tasks, such as configuring a device or installing software.

Ansible has a large number of built-in modules for network automation, including modules for configuring Cisco, Juniper, and Arista devices.

Here are some examples of Ansible modules for network automation:

Ansible Inventory

Ansible uses an inventory to define the target devices for automation tasks. An inventory is a file that lists the target devices and their connection details.

Here is an example inventory file:

[cisco] ansible_user=admin ansible_password=secret

[juniper] ansible_user=admin ansible_password=secret

This inventory file defines two target devices, a Cisco router and a Juniper router. The ansible_user and ansible_password parameters are used to specify the login credentials for the devices.

Ansible Ad-Hoc Commands

Ansible can also be used to run ad-hoc commands on target devices. Ad-hoc commands are one-time commands that are run on the target devices without the need for a playbook.

Here is an example ad-hoc command that pings a target device:

ansible cisco -m ping

This command pings the target device specified in the inventory file.


Ansible is a powerful tool for network automation that can save time and reduce errors. It is easy to learn and can be used to manage networks of any size.

In this comprehensive guide, we have covered the basics of Ansible, how to install and configure it, and how to use it for network automation. We have also covered Ansible playbooks, modules, inventory, and ad-hoc commands.

We hope that this guide has been helpful in getting you started with Ansible for network automation. If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know in the comments below. Happy automating!

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