/Ansible 2.9

Asynchronous Actions and Polling

By default tasks in playbooks block, meaning the connections stay open until the task is done on each node. This may not always be desirable, or you may be running operations that take longer than the SSH timeout.

Time-limited background operations

You can run long-running operations in the background and check their status later. For example, to execute long_running_operation asynchronously in the background, with a timeout of 3600 seconds (-B), and without polling (-P):

$ ansible all -B 3600 -P 0 -a "/usr/bin/long_running_operation --do-stuff"

If you want to check on the job status later, you can use the async_status module, passing it the job ID that was returned when you ran the original job in the background:

$ ansible web1.example.com -m async_status -a "jid=488359678239.2844"

To run for 30 minutes and poll for status every 60 seconds:

$ ansible all -B 1800 -P 60 -a "/usr/bin/long_running_operation --do-stuff"

Poll mode is smart so all jobs will be started before polling will begin on any machine. Be sure to use a high enough --forks value if you want to get all of your jobs started very quickly. After the time limit (in seconds) runs out (-B), the process on the remote nodes will be terminated.

Typically you’ll only be backgrounding long-running shell commands or software upgrades. Backgrounding the copy module does not do a background file transfer. Playbooks also support polling, and have a simplified syntax for this.

To avoid blocking or timeout issues, you can use asynchronous mode to run all of your tasks at once and then poll until they are done.

The behavior of asynchronous mode depends on the value of poll.

Avoid connection timeouts: poll > 0

When poll is a positive value, the playbook will still block on the task until it either completes, fails or times out.

In this case, however, async explicitly sets the timeout you wish to apply to this task rather than being limited by the connection method timeout.

To launch a task asynchronously, specify its maximum runtime and how frequently you would like to poll for status. The default poll value is set by the DEFAULT_POLL_INTERVAL setting if you do not specify a value for poll:


- hosts: all
  remote_user: root


  - name: simulate long running op (15 sec), wait for up to 45 sec, poll every 5 sec
    command: /bin/sleep 15
    async: 45
    poll: 5


There is no default for the async time limit. If you leave off the ‘async’ keyword, the task runs synchronously, which is Ansible’s default.


As of Ansible 2.3, async does not support check mode and will fail the task when run in check mode. See Check Mode (“Dry Run”) on how to skip a task in check mode.

Concurrent tasks: poll = 0

When poll is 0, Ansible will start the task and immediately move on to the next one without waiting for a result.

From the point of view of sequencing this is asynchronous programming: tasks may now run concurrently.

The playbook run will end without checking back on async tasks.

The async tasks will run until they either complete, fail or timeout according to their async value.

If you need a synchronization point with a task, register it to obtain its job ID and use the async_status module to observe it.

You may run a task asynchronously by specifying a poll value of 0:


- hosts: all
  remote_user: root


  - name: simulate long running op, allow to run for 45 sec, fire and forget
    command: /bin/sleep 15
    async: 45
    poll: 0


You shouldn’t attempt run a task asynchronously by specifying a poll value of 0 with operations that require exclusive locks (such as yum transactions) if you expect to run other commands later in the playbook against those same resources.


Using a higher value for --forks will result in kicking off asynchronous tasks even faster. This also increases the efficiency of polling.

If you would like to perform a task asynchronously and check on it later you can perform a task similar to the following:

# Requires ansible 1.8+
- name: 'YUM - async task'
    name: docker-io
    state: present
  async: 1000
  poll: 0
  register: yum_sleeper

- name: 'YUM - check on async task'
    jid: "{{ yum_sleeper.ansible_job_id }}"
  register: job_result
  until: job_result.finished
  retries: 30


If the value of async: is not high enough, this will cause the “check on it later” task to fail because the temporary status file that the async_status: is looking for will not have been written or no longer exist

If you would like to run multiple asynchronous tasks while limiting the amount of tasks running concurrently, you can do it this way:

# main.yml
- name: Run items asynchronously in batch of two items
      - 1
      - 2
      - 3
      - 4
      - 5
    durations: "{{ item }}"
  include_tasks: execute_batch.yml
  loop: "{{ sleep_durations | batch(2) | list }}"

# execute_batch.yml
- name: Async sleeping for batched_items
  command: sleep {{ async_item }}
  async: 45
  poll: 0
  loop: "{{ durations }}"
    loop_var: "async_item"
  register: async_results

- name: Check sync status
    jid: "{{ async_result_item.ansible_job_id }}"
  loop: "{{ async_results.results }}"
    loop_var: "async_result_item"
  register: async_poll_results
  until: async_poll_results.finished
  retries: 30

See also

About Playbooks
An introduction to playbooks
User Mailing List
Have a question? Stop by the google group!
#ansible IRC chat channel

© 2012–2018 Michael DeHaan
© 2018–2019 Red Hat, Inc.
Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3.