Getting started with Jenkins for Network Automation

As I have mentioned my previous post about Getting started with Gitlab-CI for Network Automation, Jenkins is another continuous integration pipelining tool you can use for network automation. Have a look about how to install Jenkins:

To use the Jenkins with Vagrant and KVM (libvirt) there are a few changes needed on the linux server similar with the Gitlab-Runner. The Jenkins user account needs to be able to control KVM and you need to install the vagrant-libvirt plugin:

usermod -aG libvirtd jenkins
sudo su jenkins
vagrant plugin install vagrant-libvirt

Optional: you may need to copy custom Vagrant boxes into the users vagrant folder ‘/var/lib/jenkins/.vagrant.d/boxes/*’. Note that the Jenkins home directory is not located under /home.

Now lets start configuring a Jenkins CI-pipeline, click on ‘New item’:

This creates an empty pipeline where you need to add the different stages  of what needs to be executed:

Below is an example Jenkins pipeline script which is very similar to the Gitlab-CI pipeline I have used with my Cumulus Linux Lab in the past.

pipeline {
    agent any
    stages {
        stage('Clean and prep workspace') {
            steps {
                sh 'rm -r *'
                git ''
                sh 'git clone --origin master'
        stage('Validate Ansible') {
            steps {
                sh 'bash ./'
        stage('Staging') {
            steps {
                sh 'cd ./cumulus-lab-vagrant/ && ./'
                sh 'cd ./cumulus-lab-vagrant/ && bash ../'
        stage('Deploy production approval') {
            steps {
                input 'Deploy to prod?'
        stage('Production') {
            steps {
                sh 'cd ./cumulus-lab-vagrant/ && ./'
                sh 'cd ./cumulus-lab-vagrant/ && bash ../'

Let’s run the build pipeline:

The stages get executed one by one and, as you can see below, the production stage has an manual approval build-in that nothing gets deployed to production without someone to approve before, for a controlled production deployment:

Finished pipeline:

This is just a simple example of a network automation pipeline, this can of course be more complex if needed. It should just help you a bit on how to start using Jenkins for network automation.

Please share your feedback and leave a comment.

Ansible Automation with Cisco ASA Multi-Context Mode

I thought I’d share my experience using Ansible and Cisco ASA firewalls in multi-context mode. Right from the beginning I had a few issues deploying the configuration and the switch between the different security context didn’t work well. I got the error you see below when I tried to run a playbook. Other times the changeto context didn’t work well and applied the wrong config:

[email protected]:~$ ansible-playbook -i inventory site.yml --ask-vault-pass
Vault password:

PLAY [all] ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

TASK [hostname : set dns and hostname] ***********************************************************************************************************************************************
An exception occurred during task execution. To see the full traceback, use -vvv. The error was: error: [Errno 61] Connection refused
fatal: [fwcontext01]: FAILED! => {"changed": false, "err": "[Errno 61] Connection refused", "msg": "unable to connect to socket"}
ok: [fwcontext02]

TASK [interfaces : write interfaces config] ******************************************************************************************************************************************
ok: [fwcontext02]


After a bit of troubleshooting I found a workaround to limit the amount of processes Ansible use and set this limit to one in the Ansible.cfg. The default is five processes if forks is not defined as far as I remember.

inventory = ./inventory
forks = 1

In the example inventory file, the “inventory_hostname” variable represents the security context and as you see the “ansible_ssh_host” is set to the IP address of the admin context:

fwcontext01 ansible_ssh_host= ansible_ssh_port=22 ansible_ssh_user='ansible' ansible_ssh_pass='cisco'
fwcontext02 ansible_ssh_host= ansible_ssh_port=22 ansible_ssh_user='ansible' ansible_ssh_pass='cisco'

When you run the playbook again you can see that the playbook runs successfully but deploys the changes one by one to each firewall security context, the disadvantage is that the playbook takes much longer to run:

[email protected]:~$ ansible-playbook site.yml

PLAY [all] ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

TASK [hostname : set dns and hostname] ***********************************************************************************************************************************************
ok: [fwcontext01]
ok: [fwcontext02]

TASK [interfaces : write interfaces config] ******************************************************************************************************************************************
ok: [fwcontext01]
ok: [fwcontext02]

Example site.yml


- hosts: all
  connection: local
  gather_facts: 'no'

      username: "{{ ansible_ssh_user }}"
      password: "{{ ansible_ssh_pass }}"
      host: "{{ ansible_ssh_host }}"

    - interfaces

In the example Interface role you see that the context is set to “inventory_hostname” variable:


- name: write interfaces config
    src: "templates/interfaces.j2"
    provider: "{{ cli }}"
    context: "{{ inventory_hostname }}"
  register: result

- name: enable interfaces
    parents: "interface {{ item.0 }}"
    lines: "no shutdown"
    match: none
    provider: "{{ cli }}"
    context: "{{ inventory_hostname }}"
  when: result.changed
    - "{{ interfaces.items() }}"

After modifying the forks, the Ansible playbook runs well with Cisco ASA in multi-context mode, like mentioned before it is a bit slow to deploy the configuration if I compare this to Cumulus Linux or any other Linux system.

Please share your feedback.

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Getting started with Gitlab-CI for Network Automation

Ken Murphy from asked me to do a more detailed post about how to setup Gitlab-Runner on your local server to use with Gitlab-CI. I will not get into too much detail about the installation because Gitlab has a very detailed information about it which you can find here:

Once the Gitlab Runner is installed on your server you need to configure and register the runner with your Gitlab repo. If you are interested in information about this, you can find the documentation here: but lets continue with how to register the runner.

In your project go to ‘Settings -> CI / CD’ to find the registration token:

It is important to disable the shared runners:

Now let’s register the gitlab runner:

[email protected] ~ # sudo gitlab-runner register
Running in system-mode.

Please enter the gitlab-ci coordinator URL (e.g.
Please enter the gitlab-ci token for this runner:
Please enter the gitlab-ci description for this runner:
Please enter the gitlab-ci tags for this runner (comma separated):
Whether to run untagged builds [true/false]:
[false]: true
Whether to lock the Runner to current project [true/false]:
[true]: false
Registering runner... succeeded                     runner=xxxxx
Please enter the executor: docker-ssh, parallels, ssh, virtualbox, kubernetes, docker, shell, docker+machine, docker-ssh+machine:
Runner registered successfully. Feel free to start it, but if it's running already the config should be automatically reloaded!
[email protected] ~ #

You will find the main configuration file under /etc/gitlab-runner/config.toml.

When everything goes well the runner is registered and active, and ready to apply the CI pipeline what is defined in the .gitlab-ci.yml.

To use the runner with Vagrant and KVM (libvirt) there are a few changes needed on the linux server itself, first the gitlab-runner user account needs to be able to control KVM, second the vagrant-libvirt plugin needs to be installed:

usermod -aG libvirtd gitlab-runner
sudo su gitlab-runner
vagrant plugin install vagrant-libvirt

Optional: you may need to copy custom Vagrant boxes into the users vagrant folder ‘/home/gitlab-runner/.vagrant.d/boxes/*’.

Here the example from my Cumulus CI-pipeline .gitlab-ci.yml that I have already shared in my other blog post about Continuous Integration and Delivery for Networking with Cumulus Linux:

    - validate ansible
    - staging
    - production
    stage: validate ansible
        - bash ./
        - git clone
        - cd cumulus-lab-vagrant/
        - python ./ ./
          -p libvirt --ansible-hostfile
    stage: staging
        - bash ../
        - git clone
        - cd cumulus-lab-vagrant/
        - python ./ ./
          -p libvirt --ansible-hostfile
    stage: production
    when: manual
        - bash ../
        - master

The next step is the shell script which boots up the vagrant instances and executes the Ansible playbooks. It is better to use a script and report the exit state so that if something goes wrong the Vagrant instances are correctly destroyed.


vagrant up mgmt-1 --color <<< 'mgmt-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up netq-1 --color <<< 'netq-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
sleep 300
vagrant up spine-1 --color <<< 'spine-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up spine-2 --color <<< 'spine-2 boot' || EXIT=$?
sleep 60
vagrant up edge-1 --color <<< 'edge-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up edge-2 --color <<< 'edge-2 boot' || EXIT=$?
sleep 60
vagrant up leaf-1 --color <<< 'leaf-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up leaf-2 --color <<< 'leaf-2 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up leaf-3 --color <<< 'leaf-3 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up leaf-4 --color <<< 'leaf-4 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up leaf-5 --color <<< 'leaf-5 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up leaf-6 --color <<< 'leaf-6 boot' || EXIT=$?
sleep 60
vagrant up server-1 --color <<< 'server-1 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up server-2 --color <<< 'server-2 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up server-3 --color <<< 'server-3 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up server-4 --color <<< 'server-4 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up server-5 --color <<< 'server-5 boot' || EXIT=$?
vagrant up server-6 --color <<< 'server-6 boot' || EXIT=$?
sleep 60
ansible-playbook ./helper_scripts/configure_servers.yml <<< 'ansible playbook' || EXIT=$?
ansible-playbook ../site.yml <<< 'ansible playbook' || EXIT=$?
sleep 60
ansible-playbook ../icmp_check.yml <<< 'icmp check' || EXIT=$?
vagrant destroy -f
echo $EXIT
exit $EXIT

Basically any change in the repository triggers the .gitlab-ci.yml and executes the pipeline; starting with the stage validating the Ansible syntax:

Continue with staging the configuration and deploying to production. The production stage is a manual trigger to have a controlled deployment:

In one of my next posts I will explain how to use Jenkins instead of Gitlab-CI for Network Automation. Jenkins is very similar to the runner but more flexible with what you can do with it.

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Running WordPress on OpenShift

This here is just a simple example deploying a web application like WordPress on an OpenShift cluster.

I am doing this via the command line because it is much quicker but you can also do this via the WebUI. First, we need to log in:

[[email protected] ~]$ oc login
The server is using a certificate that does not match its hostname: x509: certificate is not valid for any names, but wanted to match
You can bypass the certificate check, but any data you send to the server could be intercepted by others.
Use insecure connections? (y/n): y

Authentication required for (openshift)
Username: demo
Login successful.

You don't have any projects. You can try to create a new project, by running

    oc new-project 

[[email protected] ~]$

OpenShift tells us that we have no project, so let’s create a new project with the name testing:

[[email protected] ~]$ oc new-project testing
Now using project "testing" on server "".

You can add applications to this project with the 'new-app' command. For example, try:

    oc new-app centos/ruby-22-centos7~

to build a new example application in Ruby.
[[email protected] ~]$

After we have created the project we need to start creating the first app, in our case for WordPress we need MySQL for the database. This is just an example because the MySQL is not using persistent storage and I use sample DB information it created:

[[email protected] ~]$ oc new-app mysql-ephemeral
--> Deploying template "openshift/mysql-ephemeral" to project testing2

     MySQL (Ephemeral)
     MySQL database service, without persistent storage. For more information about using this template, including OpenShift considerations, see

     WARNING: Any data stored will be lost upon pod destruction. Only use this template for testing

     The following service(s) have been created in your project: mysql.

            Username: user1M5
            Password: 5KmiOFJ4UH2UIKbG
       Database Name: sampledb
      Connection URL: mysql://mysql:3306/

     For more information about using this template, including OpenShift considerations, see

     * With parameters:
        * Memory Limit=512Mi
        * Namespace=openshift
        * Database Service Name=mysql
        * MySQL Connection Username=user1M5
        * MySQL Connection Password=5KmiOFJ4UH2UIKbG # generated
        * MySQL root user Password=riPsYFaVEpHBYAWf # generated
        * MySQL Database Name=sampledb
        * Version of MySQL Image=5.7

--> Creating resources ...
    secret "mysql" created
    service "mysql" created
    deploymentconfig "mysql" created
--> Success
    Application is not exposed. You can expose services to the outside world by executing one or more of the commands below:
     'oc expose svc/mysql'
    Run 'oc status' to view your app.
[[email protected] ~]$

Next, let us create a PHP app and pulling the latest WordPress install from Github.

[[email protected] ~]$ oc new-app php~
-->; Found image fa73ae7 (5 days old) in image stream "openshift/php" under tag "7.0" for "php"

    Apache 2.4 with PHP 7.0
    PHP 7.0 available as docker container is a base platform for building and running various PHP 7.0 applications and frameworks. PHP is an HTML-embedded scripting language. PHP attempts to make it easy for developers to write dynamically generated web pages. PHP also offers built-in database integration for several commercial and non-commercial database management systems, so writing a database-enabled webpage with PHP is fairly simple. The most common use of PHP coding is probably as a replacement for CGI scripts.

    Tags: builder, php, php70, rh-php70

    * A source build using source code from will be created
      * The resulting image will be pushed to image stream "wordpress:latest"
      * Use 'start-build' to trigger a new build
    * This image will be deployed in deployment config "wordpress"
    * Ports 8080/tcp, 8443/tcp will be load balanced by service "wordpress"
      * Other containers can access this service through the hostname "wordpress"

-->; Creating resources ...
    imagestream "wordpress" created
    buildconfig "wordpress" created
    deploymentconfig "wordpress" created
    service "wordpress" created
-->; Success
    Build scheduled, use 'oc logs -f bc/wordpress' to track its progress.
    Application is not exposed. You can expose services to the outside world by executing one or more of the commands below:
     'oc expose svc/wordpress'
    Run 'oc status' to view your app.
[[email protected] ~]$

Last but not least I need to expose the PHP WordPress app:

[[email protected] ~]$ oc expose service wordpress
route "wordpress" exposed
[[email protected] ~]$

Here is a short overview of how it looks in the OpenShift web console, you see the deployed MySQL pod and the PHP pod which run WordPress:

Next, you open the URL and see the WordPress install menu where you start configuring the database connection using the info I got from OpenShift when I created the MySQL pod:

I can customise the DB connection settings if I want to have a more permanent solution:

A voilà, your WordPress is deployed in OpenShift:

This is just a very simple example but it took me less than a minute to deploy the web application. Read also my other post about Deploying OpenShift Origin Cluster using Ansible.

Please share your feedback.

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