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Ansible vs Puppet - What should you know?

DevOps Engineers are managing multiple servers with more applications than ever before. To handle highly complex tasks, dozens of Configuration Management (CM) tools are introduced and two most popular ones include Ansible and Puppet. According to experts, configuration management is a vital process and is considered imperative in the DevOps model to support continuous integration.

Difference Between Ansible and Puppet

With CM tools, it is easy for admin executing tasks on multiple servers together and deploy multiple apps with one click only. But how to decide the best DevOps tool that fits your requirements? Here, we will learn two popular configuration management tools, Ansible vs Puppet, to get started.

History of Puppet:

The Puppet was introduced in 2005 and taken as the biggest player in the CM industry with excellent market share. It was founded by the Luke Kanies and written in Ruby programming language. Ruby is an open-source programming language runs on all major operating systems like Linux, Windows, Unix, Mac OS etc.

The big IT Companies, Oracle and Google are running their data servers using puppet. There is one Enterprise edition too available through PuppetLabs. Besides so many benefits, users’ complaint that Puppet is so slow in adopting requested changes like new features additions or fixing bugs etc.

Ansible history:

Read: Nagios Interview Questions & Answers in Linux

Ansible was introduced in 2012 by AnsibleWorks which is owned by the Red Hat now and witnesses much smaller market share than Puppet. It is natural because Ansible is recent while Puppet has been around a lot longer. Puppet is also an open source version and it has an enterprise edition too, Ansible Tower. It is written in Python programming language and meant to be lightweight with fast deployment features.

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Python is built into Linux and Unix system, so running and getting Ansible up is fairly simple and quick. It is agentless and easy to set up or use. It accepts command in almost all programming languages and it is considered a big benefit in the favor of Ansible. It includes hundreds of modules to support a wider number of integrations, like AWS and more.

To know the Ansible and Puppet more in terms of setup, use, scheduling, GUI, scalability, let us refer the sections below.

Ansible vs Puppet – Setup and Use

Puppet is easy to install and use. It is model-driven built for system administrators in mind. It is based on the client-server architecture and you may install Puppet on multiple servers together. Puppet uses its own declarative language and installation takes 10 to 30 minutes approximately based on the environment and needs.

Ansible has a master and no agents running on the client machines, most functions are performed over SSH protocol only. It is quite simple, agentless and uses YAML syntax. The complex tasks are managed in configuration files named as playbooks and commands can be written in almost any programming language. Ansible is written in Python which is built into most Linux and Unix deployments, making setup easier and faster.

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Despite being complicated in more ways, Puppet has certain advantages over Ansible in terms of usage. The biggest advantage is that if you have any syntax errors, they are quickly highlighted in Puppet before you run the task. Tasks are executed in a specific sequence in case of Ansible and you are not notified for the failure of specific tasks until the complete task is executed. And more importantly, YAML is not an easy syntax to debug.

Read: How to Become a DevOps Engineer

Ansible vs. Puppet: Availability

Availability will never be interrupted for both Ansible and Puppet. Ansible has the secondary node if the active node fails while Puppet has more than one master if the original master fails.

Ansible vs. Puppet: Modules

Puppet’s repository is Puppet Forge while Ansible’s repository is Ansible Galaxy. Forge has almost 6000 modules and they all are supported well by the Puppet. So, you don’t have to waste time if one not proven to work. Galaxy does not include this feature so you have to spend more time to adjust things manually.

Ansible vs. Puppet: Management and Scheduling

Ansible and Puppet both focus on push and pull configurations. In Puppet, the client pulls configurations from the server while in Ansible, the server pushes configurations to nodes for quick deployment. Puppet uses its own declarative language to write the configurations whereas Ansible uses YAML to write the configurations.

When it comes to scheduling, the Puppet agent checks frequently almost every 30 minutes to make sure nodes are in the desired state. The free version of Ansible does not involve that capability otherwise you can use enterprise version, Ansible Tower to avail this feature. Overall, Ansible lacks in advanced features that its close competitors like Puppet have.

Ansible vs. Puppet: Scalability

Ansible and Puppet both are highly scalable, means they could handle a massive increase in nodes without any problem.  However, scalability is considered more convenient in Ansible.

Ansible vs. Puppet: Support

Puppet has been around from several years than Ansible and it is obvious that there is more support and bigger developer community for the Puppet. There is a dedicated support team with an intensive knowledge base and two levels are professional support is also given that include Standard and Premium. To become involved in the Puppet community, you can access events or participate in other channels.

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There are also more than 200 meetups worldwide that involve a big gathering of users and contributors annually. Overall, Ansible has a smaller developer community than Puppet and less support for troubleshooting resources on the web.

Ansible vs. Puppet: GUI

Puppet’s Graphical User Interface is more interactive than Ansible. It is used to view, manage, and monitor more complex tasks otherwise there is an option of using CLI (command line interface) too when need which is written in Ruby.

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At the time of its inception, Ansible was command line tool only. Now it has the UI in the enterprise version but it is not perfect. Sometimes, GUI is not in perfect sync with the Command line and not able to perform the same things like the command line interface.

Ansible vs. Puppet: Pricing

At the basic level, Ansible and Puppet both are free and open source DevOps tools. For the commercial versions, you have to pay a certain amount that depends on the level of support you want to avail.

  • For example, if you try the Puppet Enterprise, it is free up to 10 nodes. It costs $100 per node for the standard editions and $199 per node for the premium edition.
  • Ansible Tower has three levels of pricing. First is self-support that involves $5000 per year for 100 nodes. Second is the standard edition that involves $10,000 per year for 100 nodes. The third is the premium edition that involves $13000 per year for 100 nodes.

Ansible vs. Puppet – Which one to choose?

Ansible and Puppet both the tools are excellent in their own ways for different reasons.  The right choice really comes down to your business needs. Ansible is good for small and easy deployments while Puppet is often used for more complex or longer deployments. If you have fixed set of machines to maintain then Puppet is certainly the best choice whereas if your machine counts are revised frequently then Ansible may be the right way to go.

Want to learn more about these tools’ configuration management tools? Check out the DevOps certification program at the JanBask Training and explore more.

Read: What is the Difference between Agile and DevOps

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