I am always interested in learning and playing with new technologies, solutions and tools. Ansible, a popular configuration management tool which was recently acquired by Redhat, is one such tool that I have had on my to do list for some time now. It is quite difficult to find extra free time and with a new 7month year old, it has gotten even harder. However, in the last week or so I have been waking up randomly at 4-5am and I figured I might as well put this time to go use and give Ansible a try.

As the title suggests, I will be using Ansible to deploy a Kubernetes Cluster running on top of VMware's Photon OS. The motivation behind this little project was after watching Kelsey Hightower's recorded session at HashiConf on Managing Applications at Scale and comparing HashiCorp's Nomad and Google's Kubernetes (K8s) scheduler. I knew there were already a dozen different ways to deploy K8s, but I figure I would try something new and add a VMware spin to it by using the Photon OS.

I had found an out dated reference on setting up K8s in the Photon OS documentation and though a few of the steps are no longer needed, it provided a good base for me on creating the Ansible playbook for setting up a K8s Cluster. If you are not familiar with Ansible, this getting started guide was quite helpful. For our K8s setup, we will have a 2-Node setup, one being the Master and the other the Minion. If you are interested in an overview of K8s, be sure to check out the official documentation here.

Step 1 - You will need to deploy at least 2 Photon OS VMs, one for the Kubernetes Master and one for the Minon. This can be done using either the ISO or by deploying the pre-packaged OVA. For more details on how to setup Photon OS, please refer to the documentation here. This should take only a few minutes as the installation or deployment of Photon OS is pretty quick. In my setup, I have as Master and as the Minion.

Step 2 - Download and install Ansible on your client desktop. There are several options depending on the platform you plan to use. For more information take a look at the documentation here. In my setup, I will be using a Mac OS X system and you can easily install Ansible by running the following command:

brew install ansible

Step 3 - Next, to verify and test that our installation of Ansible was successful, we will need to create our inventory host file (I called it hosts but you can name it anything you want) which will contain the mappings to our Photon OS VMs. The example below assumes you do not have DNS running in your environment and I am making use of the variable options in host file to specify a friendly names versus just using the IP Addresses which will be read in later. If you do have DNS in your environment, you do not need the last section of the file.

Step 3 - We will be performing a basic "ping" test to validate that Ansible is in fact working and can communicate with our deployed Photon VMs. Run the following command which will specify the inventory host file as input:

ansible -i hosts all -m ping --user root --ask-pass

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.45.12 PM
Step 4 - If the previous step was successful, we can now create our Ansible playbook which will contain the instructions on setting up our K8s Cluster. Download the kubernetes_cluster.yml to your desktop and then run the following command:

ansible-playbook -i hosts --user root --ask-pass kubernetes_cluster.yml

If you want to use SSH keys for authentication and if you have already uploaded the public keys to your Photon VMs, then you can replace --ask-pass with --private-key and specify the full path to your SSH private keys.

Step 5 - Once the Ansible playbook has been successfully executed, you should see summary at the end showing everything was ok. To verify that our K8s Cluster has been properly setup, we will check the Minon's node status state which should show "ready". To do so, we will login to the K8s Master node and run the following command:

kubectl get nodes

You should see that the status field shows "Ready" which means the K8s Cluster has been properly configured.

At this point you have a basic K8s Cluster setup running on top of VMware Photon. If you are interested in exploring K8s further, there are some nice 101 and 201 official tutorials that can be found here. Another handy reference that I used for creating my Ansible playbook was this article here which provided a way to create loops using the lineinfile param.

One thought on “Using Ansible to provision a Kubernetes Cluster on VMware Photon

  1. Thanks as always William. I had a Kubernetes cluster running on GCE, but once I saw the cost per month I decided to run it in my own lab. The only snag I ran into was that on a Photon Tech Preview 2 full install, Kubernetes was already installed so had this issue:

    TASK: [Installing Kubernetes] *************************************************
    failed: [] => {“changed”: true, “cmd”: “/usr/bin/tdnf -y install kubernetes”, “delta”: “0:00:00.271292”, “end”: “2016-02-20 15:37:49.575706”, “rc”: 137, “start”: “2016-02-20 15:37:49.304414”, “warnings”: []}
    stdout: Error(905) : Nothing to do

    I made the following change and it worked:

    # Tasks for both Master & Minon nodes
    – hosts: all
    #- name: Installing Kubernetes
    # shell: /usr/bin/tdnf -y install kubernetes

    I imagine I could have uninstalled kubernetes as well, but I’m not too familiar with the tdnf program and wanted to get up and running asap.

    Also, before I was able to create any pods on the kubernetes cluster I had to implement dchen1107’s fix at

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