Chapter 7. Roles: Scaling Up Your Playbooks

One of the things I like about Ansible is how it scales both up and down. I’m not referring to the number of hosts you’re managing, but rather the complexity of the jobs you’re trying to automate.

Ansible scales down well because simple tasks are easy to implement. It scales up well because it provides mechanisms for decomposing complex jobs into smaller pieces.

In Ansible, the role is the primary mechanism for breaking a playbook into multiple files. This simplifies writing complex playbooks, and it makes them easier to reuse. Think of a role as something you assign to one or more hosts. For example, you’d assign a database role to the hosts that will act as database servers.

Basic Structure of a Role

An Ansible role has a name, such as database. Files associated with the database role go in the roles/database directory, which contains the following files and directories:

roles/database/tasks/main.yml

Tasks

roles/database/files/

Holds files to be uploaded to hosts

roles/database/templates/

Holds Jinja2 template files

roles/database/handlers/main.yml

Handlers

roles/database/vars/main.yml

Variables that shouldn’t be overridden

roles/database/defaults/main.yml

Default variables that can be overridden

roles/database/meta/main.yml

Dependency information about a role

Each individual file is optional; if your role doesn’t have any handlers, there’s no need to have an empty handlers/main.yml file.

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