Ansible Based Operator Scaffolding

A new Ansible operator project can be created using a command that looks like the following:

operator-sdk init --plugins ansible \
  --domain=my.domain \
  --group=apps --version=v1alpha1 --kind=AppService \
  --generate-playbook \

The new project directory has many generated folders and files. The following table describes a basic rundown of each generated file/directory.

File/Folders Purpose
Dockerfile The Dockerfile for building the container image for the operator.
Makefile Contains make targets for building, publishing, deploying the container image that wraps the operator binary, and make targets for installing and uninstalling the CRD.
PROJECT A YAML file containing meta information for the operator.
config/crd The base CRD files and the kustomization settings.
config/default Collects all operator manifests for deployment, used by make deploy.
config/manager The controller manager deployment.
config/prometheus The ServiceMonitor resource for monitoring the operator.
config/rbac The role, role binding for leader election and authentication proxy.
config/samples The sample resources created for the CRDs.
config/testing Some sample configurations for testing.
playbooks/ A subdirectory for the playbooks to run.
roles/ A subdirectory for the roles tree to run.
watches.yaml The Group, Version, and Kind of the resources to watch, and the Ansible invocation method. New entries are added via the ‘create api’ command.
requirements.yml A YAML file containing the Ansible collections and role dependencies to install during build.
molecule/ The Molecule scenarios for end-to-end testing of your role and operator

The Deployment

The default Deployment manifest generated for the operator can be found in the config/manager/manager.yaml file. By default, the Deployment is named as ‘controller-manager’. It contains a single container named ‘manager’, and it may pick up a sidecar patch from the config/default directory. The Deployment will create a single Pod.

For the container in the Pod, there are a few things to note. The default Deployment contains a placeholder for the container image to use, so you cannot create a meaningful operator using the YAML file directly. To deploy the operator, you will run make deploy IMG=<IMG>. The image name and tag are then patched using kustomize.

The Volume Mount Path

The default EmptyDir volume mounted at /tmp/ansible-operator/runner is used to serve the input directory in ansible-runner’s terms. The mount path can NOT be changed to other paths, or else the Operator will fail to communicate with ansible-runner.

The Environment Variables

You can customize the behavior of the Ansible operator by specifying the environment variables for the container. Please refer to the Ansible Documentation for a list of environment variables that can be used to tune the behavior of the Ansible engine.

In addition to the Ansible environment variables, Operator SDK also support some special environment variables:

  • WATCH_NAMESPACE: This is the namespace your operator will watch for resource changes, i.e. resource create, update or delete operations. In the scaffolded operator Deployment, this is set to the same namespace in which the operator is deployed. This variable can be set to one of the following types of values:

    • ‘': An empty string means that the operator will watch all namespaces. This is the default value if the WATCH_NAMESPACE environment variable is not set. It is especially useful for watching cluster-scoped resources.

    • foo: The operator will watch the namespace named foo. This is the setting you will use if you are operating a namespaced resource which is deployed into a specific namespace.

    • foo,bar: The operator checks the value of the environment variable and realizes that it is a comma-separated list. This means the operator will watch for resources in each of the listed namespaces.

  • ANSIBLE_DEBUG_LOGS: A boolean value for toggling the Ansible output during reconciliation. When set to True, the operator dumps the Ansible result into its standard output.

  • ANSIBLE_ROLES_PATH: The parent path(s) for the Ansible roles. When there are more than one path to set, you can use “:” to separate them. Given a path /opt/foo and a role name bar, the Ansible operator will check if the Ansible role can be found in either /opt/foo/bar or /opt/foo/roles/bar.

    This value overrides the setting from the ansible-roles-path flag.

  • ANSIBLE_COLLECTIONS_PATH: The base path for the Ansible collections which defaults to ~/.ansible/collections or /usr/share/ansible/collections when ANSIBLE_COLLECTIONS_PATH is not explicitly specified. When a fully qualified collection name in the watches file, the Ansible operator checks if the specified collection can found under the base path that can be customized using this variable. Suppose you have ANSIBLE_COLLECTIONS_PATH set to /foo and the fully qualified collection name set to, the Ansible operator searches for the roles under /foo/ansible_collections/example/com/roles/bar.

    This value takes precedence over the --ansible-collections-path flag.

  • MAX_CONCURRENT_RECONCILES_<kind>_<group>: This specifies the maximum number of concurrent reconciliations for the operator. It defaults to the number of CPUs. You can adjust this based on the cluster resources.

  • WORKER_<kind>_<group>: Deprecated. Use MAX_CONCURRENT_RECONCILES_<kind>_<group> instead.

  • ANSIBLE_VERBOSITY_<kind>_<group>: This is used to customize the verbosity of the ansible-runner command. The default value is 2. The value must be no less than 0 and no greater than 7. This value takes precedence over the global --ansible-verbosity flag, and it can be overridden by the per-resource annotation named ansible.operator-sdk/verbosity.