This post builds on the theory from Introduction to Automation in the Cloud. It explains how the DevOps environment is build and used.
Cloud for testing
Creating a user account in the cloud of your choice is the best start. My choice was AWS and all infrastructures are built on AWS. When doing Proof of Concept (PoC) in the cloud on your own, you adopt the logic of companies who are entering the cloud era – you wish to minimize the costs. That means two things:
- build services in the cloud when needed and destroy them once done using them
- create a work/development environment on your own machine – Docker container is my choice.
AWS offers instance types (EC2 services in AWS world) called “t2.micro”, which are perfect for testing infrastructure scripts. For example, they will not get you further than installing services and starting a few services in your infrastructure, but they will be helpful letting you know if your install and configuration works as it should. That is where dynamic configuration comes in handy: once ready to run on bigger scale, just change the input configuration file (more on this later).
Now we know we are planning to provision on AWS, we have access to the cloud, all we need is the work environment.
The tools needed are PowerShell, Docker and GitHub Desktop.
Interaction between the tools used to prepare the work environment. Once the container is created, the user accesses it from PowerShell, except that now it is not Command Prompt anymore, but the operating system defined in the DockerFile.
GitHub Desktop connects you to the GitHub repositories you wish to clone or work on. This tool is used to push and pull changes to and from your repository on GitHub.
PowerShell is a Command Prompt on steroids, it is used to work with Docker images and containers. I am most certain you will try to maximize the experience and use PowerShell ISE. It will not work, since it is not compatible with Docker for Windows.
With Docker, you can create an environment on your operating system but independent of the system. In worst case scenario, you can delete the container and build it again. The DockerFile is the definition of the IMAGE you wish to use to create a container. An example of DockerFile with necessary files can be found here. This repository creates the Docker container with the tools needed for IaC work.
The Docker needs to be built from this folder since it picks up configuration from the DockerFile. I use PowerShell to build Docker containers which then serve me as an entry point to infrastructure-as-code development. Details about how to get started are in the README.md file. My flavour of Linux in the container is Centos.
Inside the container
The container consists of Ansible, Terraform, Consul and some other installations used to support the work (git2consul, awscli…). It also starts a local Consul server which can be reached at localhost:8501 (depending on the port you expose when running the container) from the browser on the client computer. The Consul server is populated from a GitHub repository which is a dedicated configuration repository – configuration in Consul. This means that configuration changes are pushed to the GitHub using GitHub Desktop and a process inside the Docker container called git2consul updates the Consul server.
Before being able to provision anything on AWS from the container, the AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY should be set as environmental variables.
At this point the DevOps environment should be in place: Terraform and Consul are installed, Ansible is installed, git2consul is setup and local Consul server is running and ready to serve configuration settings.
Simple representation of the DevOps (work) environment with its main services.
Next post covers the configuration services (git2consul and Consul) and the key-value configuration files in GitHub.
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