Connection Types with Network Automation and Ansible

Ansible is a great platform for network automation, but one of its quirks is its sometimes obtuse errors. I was running a playbook which logs into various Arista leafs and spines and does some tests. I’m using SSH to issue the commands (versus eAPI). I got this error:

fatal: [spine1]: FAILED! => {"changed": false, "msg": "Connection type ssh is not valid for this module"}

One of the little things that trips me up when doing Ansible with network automation is the connection type.

When you’re automating servers (Ansible’s original use case) the connection type is assumed to be SSH, so the Ansible control node will log in to the node and perform some functions. The default connection type is “ssh”.

It’s a little counter-intuative, but even if you’re using SSH to get into network device, most network-centric modules won’t work. You need to use another connection type such as network_cli, which is part of the netcommon module collection. When you use network_cli, you also might have to specify a few other options such as network_os, become, and become_method.

        ansible_connection: network_cli
        ansible_network_os: eos
        ansible_become: yes
        ansible_become_method: enable

If your device has some sort of API, you can use httpapi as the connection type. You’ll almost always need to specify to use SSL and to set validate_certs to false (as in most cases devices have a self-signed certificate).

        ansible_connection: httpapi
        ansible_httpapi_use_ssl: True
        ansible_httpapi_validate_certs: False
        ansible_network_os: eos
        ansible_httpapi_port: 443

There’s also netconf and a few others.

So whether your network device is controlled via SSH/CLI or some type of API (JSON-RPC, XML-RPC, REST) make sure to set the connection type, otherwise Ansible probably won’t work with your network device.

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