Ansible for Network Automation: Simplifying Network Management

Are you tired of manually configuring and managing your network devices? Do you wish there was a way to automate repetitive tasks and streamline network management? Look no further than Ansible for Network Automation!

Ansible is an open-source automation tool that allows you to automate IT tasks, including network device configuration and management. With Ansible's simple yet powerful syntax, you can easily create playbooks to automate network tasks like configuring switches, routers, and firewalls.

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into Ansible for Network Automation and explore how it can simplify network management for IT professionals.

Why Use Ansible for Network Automation?

Before we dive into the details of Ansible for Network Automation, let's take a look at why you might want to use it in the first place. Here are some of the benefits of using Ansible for network automation:

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

One of the key benefits of Ansible for network automation is increased efficiency and productivity. With Ansible, you can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up your time to focus on more important tasks. This can result in faster deployment times, fewer errors, and more reliable network configurations.

Standardization and Consistency

Another benefit of Ansible for network automation is improved standardization and consistency. With Ansible, you can create playbooks that ensure consistent network configurations across all of your devices. This helps to reduce errors and simplifies troubleshooting.


Ansible for network automation is also highly scalable. With Ansible, you can automate network tasks across thousands of devices, making it ideal for large enterprise environments.


Finally, Ansible for network automation is incredibly flexible. With its modular architecture, you can leverage existing modules or create your own to automate virtually any network task.

Getting Started with Ansible for Network Automation

Now that we know why we might want to use Ansible for network automation, let's take a look at how to get started with using Ansible for network automation.

Installing Ansible

The first step in getting started with Ansible for network automation is to install Ansible on your machine. Ansible can be installed on a variety of different systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows.

To install Ansible on Linux, you can use your system's package manager. For example, on Ubuntu, you can run the following command:

sudo apt-get install ansible

On macOS or Windows, you can install Ansible using a tool like Homebrew, Chocolatey, or the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Creating a Playbook

Once you have Ansible installed, the next step is to create a playbook. Playbooks are Ansible's way of describing IT tasks in a simple, yet powerful syntax.

To create a playbook for network automation, you'll first need to define a list of hosts that you want to manage. For example, you might have a list of switches that you want to configure.

- name: Configure Switches
  hosts: switches

Next, you'll need to define the tasks that you want to perform on those hosts. For example, you might want to configure the hostname and the interface IP addresses of your switches.

- name: Configure Switches
  hosts: switches
  - name: Set hostname
        - hostname {{ inventory_hostname }}
  - name: Set interface IP addresses
      name: GigabitEthernet1

In this example, we're using the ios_config and ios_interface modules to configure the hostname and interface IP addresses of our switches. These modules are part of the ansible-network collection, which includes a variety of different network automation modules for Ansible.

Running a Playbook

Once you've created your playbook, you can run it using the ansible-playbook command. For example, to run the playbook we just created, you might run the following command:

ansible-playbook -i inventory.yaml configure-switches.yaml

In this example, inventory.yaml is a file that lists the hosts we want to manage, and configure-switches.yaml is the name of our playbook.

Writing Custom Modules

In addition to using existing modules, you can also write your own custom modules for Ansible. This is a powerful way to extend Ansible's functionality and automate even more complex network tasks.

To create a custom module, you'll need to write a Python script that defines the functionality of your module. This script should be placed in the library directory of your Ansible project.

For example, here's a simple custom module that retrieves the SNMP interface description for a network device:


from ansible.module_utils.basic import AnsibleModule
from pysnmp.entity.rfc3413.oneliner import cmdgen

def main():
    module_args = dict(
        host=dict(type='str', required=True),
        community=dict(type='str', required=True),
        interface=dict(type='str', required=True)

    module = AnsibleModule(argument_spec=module_args)

    cmd_gen = cmdgen.CommandGenerator()

    error_indication, error_status, error_index, var_binds = cmd_gen.getCmd(
        cmdgen.UdpTransportTarget((module.params['host'], 161)),
        '' + module.params['interface']

    if error_indication:

    if error_status:
        module.fail_json(msg='%s at %s' % (
            error_index and var_binds[int(error_index)-1] or '?'

    for name, val in var_binds:
        if name.prettyPrint() == '' + module.params['interface']:

if __name__ == '__main__':

In this example, our custom module uses the pysnmp library to retrieve the SNMP interface description for a network device. We define three module arguments (host, community, and interface) that are passed in from our playbook.

To use this custom module in a playbook, we'd simply include it as a task and pass in the required arguments:

- name: Get interface description
    host: router1
    community: public
    interface: 1


In this article, we've explored how Ansible for Network Automation can simplify network management for IT professionals. With its simple yet powerful syntax, scalability, and flexibility, Ansible is an ideal tool for automating network tasks like configuring switches, routers, and firewalls.

If you're new to Ansible or interested in learning more, be sure to check out our other articles and resources on Happy automating!

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