Using Plugins for Dynamic Inventory in Ansible

Plugins provide a flexible and powerful way to create dynamic inventory sources in Ansible. By using plugins, you can easily integrate external systems or APIs to generate inventory information dynamically. In this tutorial, we will explore how to use plugins for dynamic inventory in Ansible.

Introduction to Plugins for Dynamic Inventory

Plugins in Ansible allow you to extend the functionality of the inventory system. Dynamic inventory plugins are designed to fetch inventory information from various sources and generate the inventory data dynamically. Ansible provides a variety of built-in dynamic inventory plugins, and you can also create your own custom plugins to suit your specific needs.

Example: Using the AWS EC2 Plugin

One of the most commonly used dynamic inventory plugins is the AWS EC2 plugin. This plugin fetches inventory data from Amazon EC2 and dynamically generates the inventory based on your EC2 instances. To use this plugin, you need to configure your AWS credentials and specify the plugin in your Ansible commands or configuration.

$ ansible-inventory -i aws_ec2.yml --list

This command uses the AWS EC2 plugin and the provided configuration file (aws_ec2.yml) to fetch and list the inventory data from your EC2 instances.

Steps for Using Plugins for Dynamic Inventory

Follow these steps to use plugins for dynamic inventory in Ansible:

1. Select a Dynamic Inventory Plugin

Determine the appropriate dynamic inventory plugin for your desired data source. Ansible provides several built-in plugins for popular platforms and systems.

2. Configure the Plugin

Configure the plugin by providing the necessary parameters or credentials for accessing the external system or API. Each plugin has its own set of configuration options.

3. Test the Plugin

Run the plugin with a test command or use the Ansible inventory command to verify that the plugin retrieves the expected inventory data.

4. Specify the Plugin in Ansible Commands

Specify the plugin in your Ansible commands or inventory configuration files using the appropriate syntax and options.

Common Mistakes with Plugins for Dynamic Inventory

  • Incorrect configuration of the plugin, such as missing or invalid credentials.
  • Using outdated versions of the plugin that are not compatible with your Ansible version.
  • Failure to install required dependencies or modules for the plugin to function correctly.
  • Not testing the plugin thoroughly before using it in production environments.
  • Overlooking security considerations when handling sensitive information or credentials.

FAQs about Using Plugins for Dynamic Inventory

  1. Q: Can I create my own custom dynamic inventory plugin?

    A: Yes, Ansible allows you to create custom plugins to fetch inventory information from any external source or API.

  2. Q: Are dynamic inventory plugins limited to cloud platforms?

    A: No, dynamic inventory plugins can be used with a wide range of systems, including cloud platforms, configuration management databases, monitoring systems, and more.

  3. Q: How can I debug issues with dynamic inventory plugins?

    A: You can enable verbose logging in Ansible to get more detailed information about the plugin's execution and any errors encountered.


Using plugins for dynamic inventory in Ansible allows you to seamlessly integrate external systems or APIs to generate inventory information dynamically. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial and considering best practices, you can leverage the power of plugins to automate the management of your infrastructure in a more flexible and efficient manner.