Managing Secrets with Ansible Vault in AAP / AWX

Learn how to effectively manage secrets using Ansible Vault in Ansible projects, particularly in the context of Red Hat Automation Platform (AAP) and AWX.

Manage secrets using Ansible Vault in a custom folder secret_vars. Create a generic Ansible role to read secrets from this directory.


AAP does not have built-in support for Ansible Vault  , which poses challenges when integrating Vault-encrypted files in the group_vars directory. This limitation affects inventory projects that rely on Git as the foundation for AAP / AWX deployments, causing update failures due to the inability to configure an Ansible vault secret for such projects. It is crucial to address this issue and find a workaround.


Managing secrets is a critical task in Ansible projects, and Ansible Vault offers a standard and straightforward solution. However, using Ansible Vault effectively within the context of AAP / AWX requires specific setup and considerations.


To overcome the challenges mentioned above, follow these steps:

  1. Create a custom folder named secret_vars to store secrets that can be included using include_vars. This folder will serve as an alternative for storing secrets to the default group_vars directory.
  2. Develop a generic and flexible Ansible role capable of utilizing the secret_vars folder. This role should be compatible with both AAP and the Ansible CLI.

In addition to the above solution, it is recommended to use Ansible Vault during development, as managing secrets is integral to inventory projects. The following guidelines are suggested:

  1. Within Ansible roles, set the default password as supersecure.
  2. Use secret as the default password for passwords added secrets_vars / vault folder.
  3. If technical password requirements prevent the use of secret, employ supersecret. In cases where supersecret is still not sufficiently strong, opt for a valid custom password.

Implementing the above approach provides the following benefits:

  1. Development passwords are easy, saving time during the development / testing process.
  2. Secrets are documented upon identification, thanks to the use of Ansible Vault even during development.
  3. Any missed passwords or undocumented secrets become evident during development, as the configured password will be supersecret instead of the expected secret.
  4. The solution is compatible with Red Hat Automation Platform (AAP), AWX, and the Ansible CLI.

Examples and implementation

Refer to the secrets role within the c2platform.core collection for an implementation example. The role utilizes the common_secrets_dirs list, which can be configured with multiple locations for the secret_vars folder. The following example works for both the Ansible CLI and AAP / AWX. When using AAP, AAP will place the vault in the specific location /runner/project/secret_vars/development.

  - "{{ inventory_dir }}/secret_vars/development"
  - "/runner/project/secret_vars/development"  #  awx / aap

To view or edit the secrets/vault, use the following command:

EDITOR=nano ANSIBLE_CONFIG=ansible-dev.cfg ansible-vault edit secret_vars/development/main.yml --vault-password-file vpass

For convenience, create an alias to simplify vault management and ensure no secrets are overlooked.

alias c2d-secrets='EDITOR=nano ANSIBLE_CONFIG=ansible-dev.cfg ansible-vault edit secret_vars/development/main.yml --vault-password-file vpass'