Getting started with Atmos

Learn what Atmos is and how you can start using it with stacks to simplify your DevOps Automation tasks.

Intro

atmos is part of the SweetOps toolchain and was built to make DevOps and Cloud automation easier across multiple tools. It has direct support for automating Terraform, Helm, Helmfile, and Istio. By natively utilizing stacks, atmos enables you to effortlessly manage your Terraform and Helmfile components from your local machine or in your CI/CD pipelines.

In this tutorial we’ll be looking at a simple (albeit contrived) example of automating multiple Terraform components together into a workflow. This will give you some understanding of what atmos can do while also giving you some experience with using it at the command line.

Prerequisites

System Requirements

To accomplish this tutorial, you’ll need to have Git and Docker installed on your local machine. That’s all.

Understanding

Prior to starting this tutorial, you should be sure you understand our various concepts and terminology and have gone through our Getting started with Geodesic tutorial because we’ll be using Geodesic as our means to run atmos.

Tutorial

1. Clone the tutorials repository + Run the tutorials image

As part of this tutorial (and others following in our tutorial series), we’ll be utilizing our tutorials repository. The repository includes code and relevant materials for you to use alongside this tutorial walk through.

Let’s clone it to your local machine and cd into it:

git clone [email protected]:cloudposse/tutorials.git

cd tutorials

Now that we’ve got our code, we’re going to want to interact with it using our standard set of tools. Following the SweetOps methodology, we’re going to do so using a docker toolbox, which is a Docker image built on top of Geodesic. This entire tutorials repository is actually Dockerized to make that part easy, so let’s run our cloudposse/tutorials image:

# Run our docker image
docker run -it \
          --rm \
          --volume "$HOME":/localhost \
          --volume "$PWD":/tutorials \
          --name sweetops-tutorials \
          cloudposse/tutorials:latest;

This will pull the tutorials image to your local machine, run a new container from that image, and mount the various tutorial folders so you can edit them on your host machine or in the container and the changes will propogate either direction.

Tutorial Shell

Now that we’re running inside of our container, let’s get into our specific tutorial directory:

cd /tutorials/02-atmos

This 02-atmos/ directory should look like the following:

.
├── README.md
├── components/
└── stacks/

2. Confirm our tools are working

Now that we have an interactive bash login shell open into our cloudposse/tutorials image with our home folder, stacks/, and components/ directories all mounted into it, let’s check that all is working correctly by invoking a couple commands to make sure things are install correctly:

terraform -v # Should return: Terraform v0.14.XX

atmos version # Should return a simple Semver number.

Awesome, we’ve successfully seen our first atmos command and we’re ready to start using it!

3. Terraform plan and apply a component

Now that we’ve got access to atmos, let’s do something simple like execute plan and apply on some terraform code! To do that, we need two things:

  1. Components – We’ve provided 3 small example components in our components/terraform/ directory, which is mounted to /tutorials/02-atmos/ inside your running container.
  2. A Stack configuration – We’ve provided a simple example stack located at stacks/example.yaml. This is similarly mounted to /tutorials/02-atmos/ inside your running container.

For our example in this step, we’ll check out the components/terraform/fetch-location component. To plan that component, let’s execute the following:

atmos terraform plan fetch-location --stack=example

If you properly entered your command, you should see a successful plan which resulted in “Terraform will perform the following actions” followed by “Changes to Outputs.” You’ll notice this first executes a terraform init before doing the plan. This is intentional to ensure atmos can be invoked without prior project setup. Note, we’ll discuss the currently unknown --stack parameter shortly.

So now that we’ve done a plan… let’s get this project applied. We could invoke atmos terraform apply ..., but our best option at this point would be to invoke deploy which will execute a terraform init, plan, and apply in sequential order:

atmos terraform deploy fetch-location --stack=example

Even though this component didn’t have any resources, your deploy’s apply step will utilize the http data source to invoke a request to https://ipwhois.app/json/ and output your city, region, country, and latitude + longitude (found by your IP address).

Awesome, we’ve got a component applied, but that would’ve been pretty trivial to do without atmos, right? We consolidated down 3 commands into one which is great, but we can do a lot better… Let’s show you where atmos really provides value: Workflows.

5. Invoke an Atmos Workflow

The SweetOps methodology is built on small, composable components because through experience practitioners have found large root modules to become cumbersome: They require long plan times, create large blast radiuses, and don’t foster reuse. The tradeoff with smaller root modules (components) however is that you then need to orchestrate them in an order that makes sense for what you’re building. That is where atmos workflows come in. Workflows enable you to describe the ordering of how you want to orchestrate your terraform or helmfile components so that you can quickly invoke multiple components via one command. Let’s look at an example in our /stacks/example.yaml file:

import: []
vars: {}

terraform:
  vars: {}

helmfile:
  vars: {}

components:
  terraform:
    fetch-location:
      vars: {}

    fetch-weather:
      vars: {}

    output-results:
      vars: {}
        print_users_weather_enabled: true

  helmfile: {}

workflows:
  deploy-all:
    description: Deploy terraform projects in order
    steps:
      - job: terraform deploy fetch-location
      - job: terraform deploy fetch-weather
      - job: terraform deploy output-results

Here we can see our first stack, so let’s break this file down to help understand what it is doing:

  1. We’ve got a couple of empty elements at the top: import and vars. We’ll address these in an upcoming tutorial.
  2. We’ve got terraform and helmfile elements that have empty vars elements. These provide any shared configuration variables across components when dealing with more complicated stacks. We’ll address these in an upcoming tutorial as well.
  3. We’ve got our components element which has terraform and helmfile elements. This is where we describe our various components that make up our stack and the input configurations that we want to invoke them with (via their vars elements). You can see here we have our 3 terraform components from within our components/terraform/ folder specified here and some configuration to go along with them.
  4. Finally, we’ve got our workflows element. This is a map type element that accepts a workflow name as the key and then the description and steps as values. In the example deploy-all workflow, our steps are job items which describe to atmos that we want to run atmos terraform deploy on each component in our stack.

To sum it up, our stack represents an environment: It describes the components we need to deploy for that environment, the configuration we want to supply to those components, and finally the ordering of how to orchestrate those components. This is immensely powerful as it enables us to provide one source of truth for what goes into building an environment and how to make it happen.

Now that we know what is in our example.yaml stack configuration, let’s invoke that workflow:

atmos workflow deploy-all -s example

This will run our various steps through atmos and you should see the sequential init, plan, and apply of each component in the workflow to output the current weather for your area. We hope it’s sunny wherever you’re at 😁 🌤

Let’s move on to updating our code and getting a feel for working a bit more hands on with atmos and stacks.

6. Update our Stack

One of the critical philosophies that SweetOps embodies is a focus on improving Day 2+ operations and with that in mind, it’s important to know how you would update this stack and utilize atmos to make those changes. Luckily, that’s as simple as you might think. Let’s try it out and update the stacks/example.yaml file on our local machines to the following:

import: []
vars: {}

terraform:
  vars: {}

helmfile:
  vars: {}

components:
  terraform:
    fetch-location:
      vars: {}

    fetch-weather:
      vars:
        # Let's get the weather for a particular day.
        # Feel free to update to a date more relevant to you!
        date: 2021/03/28

    output-results:
      vars:
        print_users_weather_enabled: false # We disable outputting via our Terraform local-exec.

  helmfile: {}

workflows:
  deploy-all:
    description: Deploy terraform projects in order
    steps:
      - job: terraform deploy fetch-location
      - job: terraform deploy fetch-weather
      - job: terraform deploy output-results

Above we updated a couple variables to change the behavior of our terraform code for this particular stack. Since we mounted our local stacks/ folder to our atmos container via --volume, when you save the above stack file docker will update your container’s /stacks/example.yaml file as well. Now to execute this again… we simply invoke our deploy-all workflow command:

atmos workflow deploy-all -s example

This should run through our workflow similar to the way we did it before, but this time we’ll see our temperature come back from the weather API for the date you specified instead of today’s date and we’ll skip over our terraform local-exec’s echo command for pretty printing our weather data. Instead we’ll just get our updated weather information as one of our Outputs.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, we’ve seen some critical aspects of SweetOps in action as part of this tutorial:

  1. Another usage of Geodesic to easily provide a consistent environment where we have easy access to tools (like atmos and terraform).
  2. An example stack along with the breakdown of what goes into a stack and why it is a powerful way to describe an environment.
  3. Example components that require a specific workflow in order to execute correctly.
  4. Usage of atmos in executing against some terraform code and orchestrating a workflow from our stack.

With these tools, you can skip documenting the various steps of building an environment (aka WikiOps) and instead focus on just describing and automating those steps! And there is a lot more atmos and stack files can do beyond this brief intro, so keep looking around the docs for more usage patterns!

Want to keep learning but with a more real world use-case? Check out our next tutorial on deploying your first AWS environment with SweetOps.