Ansible: Testing AWS Deployments using Localstack

Testing of playbooks for AWS deployments can be a challenge for an application developer. Within controlled environments, playbooks are generally executed via workflows/pipelines managed by DevOps teams.

The combination of Localstack and Ansible provides an app developer the capability for preliminary local/mock testing of playbooks without incurring AWS billing costs.

With the above context in mind, the following describes a procedure for local testing of AWS-based playbooks with Localstack.

Prerequisites

The examples and code used throughout the article have been tested using Ansible version 2.10.3. Some revisions may be required if you intend on using an alternate version.

$ ansible --version
ansible 2.10.3

Modules/collections for AWS can be installed using

$ ansible-galaxy collection install \
community.aws \
amazon.aws

The following sample docker-compose.yml can be used to launch a Localstack instance exposing AWS services at endpoint http://localhost:4566.

docker-compose.yml

version: '3.7'
services:
localstack:
container_name: "${LOCALSTACK_DOCKER_NAME-localstack_main}"
image: localstack/localstack:latest
ports:
- "4566:4566"
- "4571:4571"
networks:
- dev_ops
environment:
- SERVICES=${SERVICES- }
- DEBUG=${DEBUG-}
- LAMBDA_EXECUTOR=${LAMBDA_EXECUTOR-docker}
- KINESIS_ERROR_PROBABILITY=${KINESIS_ERROR_PROBABILITY-}
- DOCKER_HOST=unix:///var/run/docker.sock
- DATA_DIR=${DATA_DIR-/tmp/localstack/data}
- HOST_TMP_FOLDER=${TMPDIR:-/tmp/localstack}
- LAMBDA_REMOTE_DOCKER=false
- LAMBDA_REMOVE_CONTAINERS=false
- LAMBDA_DOCKER_NETWORK=dev_ops
- DEFAULT_REGION=us-east-1
volumes:
- "${TMPDIR:-/tmp/localstack}:/tmp/localstack"
- "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"

Bring up the stack using:

$ mkdir -p /tmp/localstack/data
$ docker-compose up -d

AWS Modules and endpoint_url

Under the covers, Ansible utilises boto3 to establish a client/connection to an AWS endpoint (endpoint_url). Depending on the AWS module being used, this address may be set via module parameters, or OS environment variables.

Before attempting to run an Ansible playbook against Localstack, it’s best to check the respective module’s documentation reference to determine whether custom endpoints are supported. Not all the modules for Amazon Cloud support this feature.

Documentation for a list of available Ansible AWS plugins/modules can be found at:

For example, to create an IAM user, we would first need to determine whether module community.aws.iam_user provides support for setting a custom AWS endpoint.

The following, taken from the module’s reference guide, lists the key parameters/environment variables we’re interested in.

We can see the module lists support for:

  • Parameter: ec2_url aliases aws_endpoint_url, endpoint_url
  • Environment variable: EC2_URL alias AWS_URL

This indicates we’ll be able to use the module with Localstack by setting either of these variables/parameters to our Localstack endpoint, http://localhost:4566.

The value supplied for module parameter ec2_url, or environment variable EC2_URL is used by Ansible to create the boto3 client/connection boto3.client(...,endpoint_url=ec2_url,...). Refer to "Appendix: boto3.client() endpoint_url and ec2_url/EC2_URL" for further details.

S3 modules aws_s3 and s3_bucket, provide support for custom endpoints via parameter s3_url, or environment variable S3_URL. Again, to use these modules with Localstack, set either of s3_url or S3_URL to http://localhost:4566.

Sample Playbook for Creation of IAM User on Localstack

The module community.aws.iam_user, described above, will be used to illustrate a basic example for creation of an IAM user on Localstack using a playbook.

The following playbook shows the module being used to create IAM user, testuser.

create_iam_user_noparam.yml

---
- name: Playbook to Create IAM User on Localstack
hosts: 127.0.0.1

tasks:
- name: Create user and attach managed policy
community.aws.iam_user:
name: testuser
managed_policies:
- arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/PowerUserAccess
state: present
register: new_user

- name: print all values returned
debug:
msg: "{{ new_user.iam_user.user }}"

The playbook can be executed locally, specifying Localstack endpoint via OS environment variable EC2_URL=http://localhost:4566:

$ EC2_URL=http://localhost:4566 ansible-playbook \
--connection=local create_iam_user_noparam.yml

Output:

TASK [print all returned values] ***************************************************************************
ok: [127.0.0.1] => {
"msg": {
"arn": "arn:aws:iam::000000000000:user/testuser",
"create_date": "2021-05-02T20:16:14.681000+00:00",
"path": "/",
"tags": [],
"user_id": "k6kp1mn0vs5td8mz20f4",
"user_name": "testuser"
}
}

This option gives us the benefit of not having to modify the playbook code when deploying to an AWS cloud account.

The following is the same playbook, however, in this case the endpoint is set using module parameter ec2_url: http://localhost:4566.

create_iam_user.yml

---
- name: Playbook to Create IAM User on Localstack
hosts: 127.0.0.1

tasks:
- name: Create user and attach managed policy
community.aws.iam_user:
name: testuser
ec2_url: http://localhost:4566
managed_policies:
- arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/PowerUserAccess
state: present
register: new_user

- name: print all values returned
debug:
msg: "{{ new_user.iam_user.user }}"

To execute the playbook locally:

$ ansible-playbook --connection=local create_iam_user.yml

Conclusion

In summary, an Ansible AWS module which accepts parameter ec2_url or OS environment variable EC2_URL will provide the capability to connect to Localstack.

To use a module with Localstack, set either of the following to Localstack’s endpoint address (http://localhost:4566)

  • Parameter: ec2_url aliases aws_endpoint_url, endpoint_url
  • Environment variable: EC2_URL alias AWS_URL

Appendix: boto3.client() endpoint_url and ec2_url/EC2_URL

The following is an overview, showing how Ansible AWS modules use the value supplied for ec2_url/EC2_URL as the endpoint_url when creating the boto3 connection.

Using the module (community.aws.iam_user) for creation of an IAM user as an example, we first review the source code located at,

<collections_src_parent>/community/aws/plugins/modules/iam_user.py

where the parent directory hosting the collections/modules, <collections_src_parent>, can be found by running:

$ ansible-galaxy collection list
# /home/<username>/.ansible/collections/ansible_collections

The following snippets show the trail of calls made by the module to create the AWS boto3 connection.

  1. <collections_src_parent>/community/aws/plugins/modules/iam_user.py

Instantiate the module with provided parameters, and create connection to AWS by calling the client() function.

from ansible_collections.amazon.aws.plugins.module_utils.core import AnsibleAWSModule
...
module = AnsibleAWSModule(
argument_spec=argument_spec,
supports_check_mode=True
)

connection = module.client('iam')

...

2. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/core.py

client() function calls get_aws_connection_info(), which retrieves ec2_url.

from .ec2 import get_aws_connection_info
from .ec2 import boto3_conn
...
class AnsibleAWSModule(object):
...
def client(self, service, retry_decorator=None):
..., ec2_url, ...= get_aws_connection_info(self, boto3=True)
...

3. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/ec2.py

Values for parameter ec2_url and environment variable EC2_URL being retrieved.

...
def get_aws_connection_info(module, boto3=False):

ec2_url = module.params.get('ec2_url')
...
...
if not ec2_url:
if 'AWS_URL' in os.environ:
ec2_url = os.environ['AWS_URL']
elif 'EC2_URL' in os.environ:
ec2_url = os.environ['EC2_URL']
...
...
return region, ec2_url, boto_params
...

4. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/core.py

boto3_conn() being called with endpoint being set to ec2_url, as derived from the previous calls.

from .ec2 import get_aws_connection_info
from .ec2 import boto3_conn
...
class AnsibleAWSModule(object):
...
def client(self, service, retry_decorator=None):
...
conn = boto3_conn(self, conn_type='client', endpoint=ec2_url,...)
...
...

5. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/ec2.py

boto3_conn() calls _boto3_conn(), overriding default value of endpoint=None with endpoint=ec2_url`

try:
import boto3
import botocore
...

def boto3_conn(module, conn_type=None, resource=None, region=None, endpoint=None, **params):
try:
return _boto3_conn(conn_type=conn_type, resource=resource, region=region, endpoint=endpoint, **params)
...

6. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/ec2.py

_boto3_conn(), receives endpoint=ec2_url , overriding default value of endpoint=None.

endpoint_url is then set to the value of endpoint, which is equivalent to ec2_url.

...
try:
import boto3
import botocore
...
...
def _boto3_conn(conn_type=None, resource=None, region=None, endpoint=None, **params):
session = boto3.session.Session(
profile_name=profile,
)

...
elif conn_type == 'client':
return session.client(resource,..., endpoint_url=endpoint
...

7. <collections_src_parent>/amazon/aws/plugins/module_utils/core.py

Finally, the connection conn is returned to the calling module.

...
class AnsibleAWSModule(object):
...
def client(self, service, retry_decorator=None):
...
return conn if retry_decorator is None else _RetryingBotoClientWrapper(conn, retry_decorator)
...

Learner. Interests include Cloud and Devops technologies.

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