In this post we will show you how to use Airflow to start and stop EC2 instances. Airflow is a popular open-source platform that engineering teams use to manage workflows. It uses a concept called Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) which lets you chain multiple steps into a workflow. Airflow’s popularity is also partly due to an extensive library of operators. Operators allow you to use code others have written within your workflow.
As the industry sees a rise in applications that are loosely coupled microservices, we notice that the amount of infrastructure that a tester has to interact with has increased too. Testing is evolving too. It is not uncommon for Qxf2 testers to have to start and stop instances automatically as part of some specific testing workflows. But most of our clients do not want to give us direct access to their PaaS provides (AWS, Azure. etc). Instead, what is more common is that one tester is given access and then they setup Airflow jobs for the remaining testers. That way, the testing team only needs access to Airflow.
Qxf2 has fully embraced Airflow as our preferred tool for automating a broad range of routine tasks.
2. Airflow Start & Stop EC2 Instances DAG:
In order to play along with this post, you need access to an Airflow instance and AWS credentials to access an EC2 instance. You will also need minimal knowledge of DAGs in Airflow so you can place the code in the right place. We will learn how to start an instance, stop it and also check the instance state in order to verify if the start/stop operation succeeded.
Note: For this post, we will pretend that we want to start and stop instances according to a schedule. We are doing this because we find auto-scheduled start/stop to be useful in many testing scenarios.
2.1) DAG to start EC2 instance:
To start the EC2 instance, we will use the EC2StartInstanceOperator. In your
airflow/dags/ directory, create a Python file (e.g.: start_ec2_instance_dag.py) and perform the following steps.
2.1.1) Import all required packages:
import datetime from airflow.models import DAG, Variable from airflow.models.baseoperator import chain from airflow.providers.amazon.aws.operators.ec2 import EC2StartInstanceOperator from airflow.providers.amazon.aws.sensors.ec2 import EC2InstanceStateSensor
2.1.2) Read, set, and retrieve the Instance ID value from the environment:
We save the Instance ID value as an Environment Variable “START_INSTANCE_ID” and then set it in the DAG using variable.set(). To read the INSTANCE_ID value which was set in the above we used variable.get(). The environment variable has to exported in the system where Airflow is running.
instance_id = os.environ.get("START_INSTANCE_ID") if instance_id is not None: Variable.set("START_INSTANCE_ID", instance_id) else: print("INSTANCE_ID environment variable not found.") # retrieve the Instance_ID INSTANCE_ID = Variable.get("INSTANCE_ID")
2.1.3) Defining Start EC2 Instance DAG:
The code below defines a DAG for starting an EC2 instance. It sets various parameters such as the unique identifier (dag_id), the schedule for executing the DAG, the start date of the DAG, and tags for organizing the DAGs. The catchup flag ensures that any missed runs will be executed.
In this code, the DAG context is established, and the EC2StartInstanceOperator is used to start the instance. Specific parameters, such as the unique task ID, instance_id, and aws_conn_id (set to the default AWS profile), are configured. The region is also specified, and check_interval is used to verify if the EC2 instance has started successfully. Additionally, the code includes settings for retries in case of failures and the retry_delay period.
# Start the EC2 instance on every week day 'Monday' morning 7:30 AM. Change schedule value as per requirement. with DAG( dag_id='Start_Newsletter_Staging_ec2_instance', schedule="30 7 * * 1", start_date=datetime.datetime(2023, 7, 31), tags=['example'], catchup=False, ) as dag: # [START of the program- ec2_start_instance operator] start_instance = EC2StartInstanceOperator( task_id="ec2_start_instance", instance_id=INSTANCE_ID, aws_conn_id="aws_default", region_name="us-east-1", check_interval=15, retries = 3, # number of retries for the task retry_delay=datetime.timedelta(minutes=5) # retry delay ) # [END of the program- ec2_start_instance operator]
2.1.4) Monitoring EC2 Instance State:
The below code is to monitor the state of EC2 instance. To check the state of the instance we have used EC2InstanceStateSensor. Defined parameters are the unique identifier task_id, instance_id, target_status(this parameter specifies the sensor is waiting for the EC2 instance to reach), retries and retry_delay
instance_state = EC2InstanceStateSensor( task_id="ec2_instance_state", instance_id=INSTANCE_ID, target_state="running", retries=3, # number of retries for the task retry_delay=datetime.timedelta(minutes=5),
2.1.5) Sequence of Tasks:
Now chain the two tasks to start and then sense the state by adding the following line.
And that’s it. You now have a DAG to start an EC2 instance.
2.2) DAG to stop EC2 instance:
In this scenario, we need to utilize the EC2StopInstanceOperator to stop an EC2 instance that is in the “running” state. This step is similar to starting an EC2 instance. So we will not work through it step by step. Instead, the entire code is provided below. You can place the code in
""" Using Airflow operators to stop an EC2 instance """ import os import datetime from airflow.models import DAG, Variable from airflow.models.baseoperator import chain from airflow.providers.amazon.aws.operators.ec2 import EC2StopInstanceOperator from airflow.providers.amazon.aws.sensors.ec2 import EC2InstanceStateSensor #set the Instance ID variable. export the STOP_INSTANCE_ID instance_id = os.environ.get("STOP_INSTANCE_ID") if instance_id is not None: Variable.set("STOP_INSTANCE_ID", instance_id) else: print("INSTANCE_ID environment variable not found.") # Get INSTANCE_ID INSTANCE_ID = Variable.get("STOP_INSTANCE_ID") # Stop the Instance every week day 'Friday' midnight 12 AM. Change Scheduler as per requirement. with DAG( dag_id='Stop_Newsletter_Staging_ec2_instance', schedule="00 12 * * 5", start_date=datetime.datetime(2023, 7, 31), tags=['example'], catchup=False, ) as dag: # [START of the program ec2_stop_instance operator] stop_instance = EC2StopInstanceOperator( task_id="ec2_stop_instance", instance_id=INSTANCE_ID, aws_conn_id="my_aws_connection", region_name="us-east-1", check_interval=15, retries = 3, # number of retries for the task retry_delay=datetime.timedelta(minutes=5) ) # [END of the program ec2_stop_instance operator] instance_state = EC2InstanceStateSensor( task_id="ec2_instance_state", instance_id=INSTANCE_ID, target_state="stopped", ) # [END of program - ec2 instance state sensor] chain(stop_instance, instance_state)
3) Non-Default value for AWS connection: :
aws_conn_id is set to default value for AWS connection in the Start & Stop EC2 instance operation. To provide non-default value for AWS connection use the provided code in this gist.
We hope this post helps a few testers. Qxf2 is finding that working with orchestration tools and knowing how to configure jobs and workflows in them helps testers integrate better with teams. These tools have the additional benefit of enabling the tester to independently execute tests that previously required help from developers and DevOps members.
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I have total of 18+ years of industry experience and worked in all the phases of project lifecycle. My career started as a manual tester, Test Lead and Program Test Manager. Recently I shifted to new company Qxf2, which provides testing services to startups. From Qxf2 joined one of the Qxf2 client where I got to know about Infrastructure as code. My hobbies are reading Telugu books, watching cricket and movies.