Introduction to Ansible Collections

Ansible is an open-source automation tool that allows you to define and manage infrastructure as code. It uses a simple YAML-based language called Ansible Playbooks to describe automation tasks and applies them to target systems. Ansible Collections, introduced in Ansible 2.10, are a way to package and distribute Ansible content such as modules, plugins, roles, and playbooks together. They provide a structured and reusable way to extend Ansible’s capabilities.

Benefits of Using Ansible Collections

Ansible Collections offer several benefits for users:

Modularity and Reusability

Collections enable modular organization of Ansible content, making it easier to manage and reuse roles, plugins, and modules across different projects. You can create and distribute collections specific to your organization’s needs, and others can easily consume and include them in their automation workflows.

Versioning and Dependency Management

Collections have their own versioning scheme, allowing you to manage dependencies on specific versions of content. This makes it easier to maintain and update your automation codebase without breaking existing workflows. You can also specify dependencies on other collections or external requirements, ensuring proper integration with other tools and libraries.

Centralized Distribution

Collections can be distributed via Ansible Galaxy, a centralized hub for sharing Ansible content. Ansible Galaxy provides a user-friendly interface to browse, search, and install collections, making it easier to discover and leverage community-contributed content. You can also host and distribute collections internally within your organization for private use.

Anatomy of an Ansible Collection

An Ansible Collection consists of the following components:


Roles are a fundamental unit of organization in Ansible. They encapsulate a set of tasks, handlers, variables, and files required to perform a specific automation task. Collections allow you to package and distribute roles as reusable components, making it easier to share and include them in different projects.


Modules are self-contained units of code that Ansible uses to perform tasks on managed nodes. Collections can include custom modules that extend Ansible’s functionality. These modules can be written in various programming languages, such as Python, and provide additional capabilities specific to your environment or infrastructure.


Plugins extend Ansible’s core functionality by adding new features and capabilities. Collections can include custom plugins, such as connection plugins, inventory plugins, and callback plugins, which enhance Ansible’s behavior and allow integration with external systems.


Playbooks are YAML files that define the automation tasks to be executed by Ansible. Collections can include playbooks that provide preconfigured automation workflows for specific use cases. These playbooks can be consumed as-is or serve as a starting point for customization.


Let’s walk through an example of creating and using an Ansible Collection.

1. Initialize a Collection

To create a new collection, use the ansible-galaxy command with the init subcommand:

ansible-galaxy collection init myorg.my_collection

This command initializes a new collection structure with the specified namespace (myorg) and collection name (my_collection).

2. Add content to the Collection

Within the collection structure, you can add roles, modules, plugins, and playbooks according to your requirements. For example, you can create a role by running the following command:

ansible-galaxy collection role init myorg.my_collection.my_role

This command initializes a new role structure within the collection.

3. Package and distribute the Collection

Once you have added the desired content to your collection, you can package it into a distributable archive file. Use the ansible-galaxy command with the collection build subcommand:

ansible-galaxy collection build myorg.my_collection

This command creates a tarball containing the collection’s content.

4. Install and use the Collection

To install a collection, use the ansible-galaxy command with the collection install subcommand:

ansible-galaxy collection install myorg-my_collection-1.0.0.tar.gz

This command installs the collection from the specified tarball.

To use the collection in your playbooks, include it in the collections section of your playbook:

  - myorg.my_collection

Ansible Galaxy Community Collections

Ansible Galaxy is a vibrant community-driven platform that hosts a vast collection of pre-built Ansible content. It serves as a centralized hub where users can discover, download, and contribute to a wide range of automation resources. Make sure to check it out!


Ansible Collections provide a powerful mechanism for organizing, packaging, and distributing Ansible content. They enable modular and reusable automation workflows, simplify dependency management, and facilitate collaboration within the Ansible community. By leveraging Ansible Collections, you can enhance your automation projects with custom modules, plugins, and roles, making your infrastructure as code more efficient and maintainable.

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