Ansible vs Chef

Ansible vs Chef

Last updated on 30th Sep 2020, Artciles, Blog

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Harish (Sr Devops Engineer )

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Configuration management (CM) is the method of ensuring that all the assets of the organization are identified, managed, controlled, and tracked at all times, and any future changes to these assets are also tracked.

This was a manual task completed by the System Administrators. The role was tedious and cumbersome and need a lot of time and effort. This was easy in managing less than 5 to 10 assets, gets increasingly complex and difficult if we have to manage hundreds of assets.

Some of the benefits of CM are as follows :

Disaster Recovery – If anything worst happens to the assets with the new configuration then we can get back to the old configurations. It also applies to rollbacks. Especially important when we put bad code and we can go back to the status before the changes.

Uptime and site reliability – The site reliability means how much of the time the assets are up and running. There are some organizations where even seconds of downtime would cause a loss of millions of dollars. This happens due to bad deployments that can be caused if the platforms are different in test and production servers. With the CM done properly, the test environments are the same as the production environments.

Easier Scaling – We can add more resources to the applications that are running with CM done correctly. For example, if we want to add more servers to the existing application then it becomes very easy just a click of a button or running an automation script.

Some of the other benefits of CM are an excellent collaboration between the teams and improved software lifecycle of products or assets.

The challenges of CM are removed in DevOps life cycle management with the help of DevOps tools such as Fabric, SaltStack, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, etc. 

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Chef an Introduction :

Chef is the CM tool used to automate the infrastructure provisioning. It is written in Ruby DSL language and is the open source software developed by Adam Jacob founder of Opscode. It has the features to integrate with any of the cloud technology.

It is used to deploy, manage applications, servers both on-premises and on the cloud both of them in DevOps.

The chef is a powerful automation platform that transforms infrastructure into the code. Whether you are operating in the on-premises, cloud, or a hybrid environment.

Chef automates how the infrastructure is deployed, configured, and managed across your network. A chef is an open-source cloud configuration that translates system administration tasks into reusable definitions, otherwise known as recipes and cookbooks.

Chef runs on different platforms such as Windows, AIX, Enterprise Linux distributions, Solaris, FreeBSD, Cisco IO, and Nexus.

It also supports cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, IBM Bluemix, HPE Cloud, Microsoft Azure, VMware vRealize Automation, and Rackspace.

The features of the chef are :

It is built on Ruby DSL which is a domain-specific language.

It uses its systems to get the current state of the nodes

1.It is widely used on the cloud for managing and deploying the servers, applications, and storage.

2.The advantages of chef are it uses domain-specific language which can be written by anyone who has some knowledge of coding

3.It also used widely in the provisioning and deployment of servers, apps, and other infrastructures on the cloud

Ansible an Introduction

Ansible is a tool used in configuration management, application deployment, and cloud provisioning and orchestration services.

It is used for multi-tier deployments and manages a host of systems in one go by inter-relating each one.

Unlike other configuration management tools, it does not have agents and no custom security software. It uses simple English like language YAML in the form of playbooks.

Ansible is an open-source IT engine that automates application deployment, cloud provisioning, intra service orchestration, and other IT tools.

Ansible is easy to deploy because it does not use any agents or custom security infrastructure on the client-side, and by pushing modules to the clients. These modules are executed locally on the client-side, and the output is pushed back to the Ansible server.

It can easily connect to clients using SSH-Keys, simplifying though the whole process. Client details, such as hostnames or IP addresses and SSH ports, are stored in the files, which are called inventory files. If you created an inventory file and populated it, then Ansible can use it.

Ansible uses the playbook to describe automation jobs, and playbook, which uses simple language, i.e., YAML. YAML is a human-readable data serialization language & commonly used for configuration files, but it can be used in many applications where data is being stored.

A significant advantage is that even the IT infrastructure support guys can read and understand the playbook and debug if needed.

Ansible is designed for multi-tier deployment. Ansible does not manage one system at a time, and it models IT infrastructure by describing all of your systems are interrelated. Ansible is entirely agentless, which means Ansible works by connecting your nodes through SSH (by default). Ansible gives the option to you if you want another method for the connection like Kerberos.

Features of Ansible are :

  • Efficient Architecture – It uses small programs called “Ansible modules” to push them to the nodes and when the desired state is achieved it removes the modules. It pushes these modules over the SSH.
  • SSH Keys – SSH is one of the best ways to use Ansible. You can create any user logins or su or sudo users and no root logins are required.
  • Manage your inventory in a simple text file – The Ansible manages the machines and represents in a simple INI file.

Other benefits are it can be used for ad-hoc parallel task execution, the playbook is the powerful automation language and Ansible can be extended by more plug-ins, API, and modules.

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Analysis Chef vs Ansible –Chef Benefits Over Ansible 

  • Chef’s Ruby DSL language is easy to pick up and can be written by anyone with little experience with the coding.
  • Chef is better when compared to Ansible when it comes to finding the current state of the nodes.
  • Chef does not assume the current state its agents find out the current state and return it to the server.

Analysis Ansible vs Chef – Ansible Benefits Over Chef 

1.Ansible is better than chef when it comes to agentless architecture, it does not have client installation on the nodes, rather uses small programs to collect data on the nodes.

2.Widely used OpenSSH is used for its programs to communicate to the nodes; this is widely supported across cloud platforms such as Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS. This makes the deployment faster and reduces the intricacy of configuration files.

3.Ansible can be used in the complete orchestration of the typical infrastructure whether it is on a cloud or on-premises.

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Difference between Chef and Ansible

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Serial#CriteriaChefAnsible
1ScalabilityScalable deployment is difficult due to massive Ruby DSL codeScalability is efficient as installing python interpreter and root access SSH s simple
2Product capabilities
Continuous delivery possible with automation in workflow Infrastructure automationCompliance and security managementAutomation for DevOps workflow

Automated workflow for continuous deliveryStreamlined provisioningSecurity and compliance managementSimple orchestration App development
3PricingThe starting price of a standard hosted chef plan is $72 yearly for every nodeThe automation version cost $137 per node yearlyThe starting price of the self-support package is $5000/year. The Premium version costs $140/year for each  node
4ManagementSupport for pull configuration onlySupport both the pull and push
5InteroperabilitySupport pull configuration onlyAnsible server supports only Unix/Linux machine but the client machines support windows
6Ease of setup and installationChef workstation makes consumes time and complicated tooEasy
7AccessibilityChef clients can only configure the clients and serverSSH allows configuration only on specific nodes
8Configuration LanguageRuby DSLYet another Markup Language Python
9AvailabilityBackup ServerSecondary Instance

Conclusion 

Now you know the difference between the Chef and Ansible as well as which has what features to be used for in DevOps. If you want to know which one is better, then there is no simple answer to it. It entirely depends on the work you are doing, your assets, the infrastructure you want to manage, and a lot of benefits and features that you need for each one of the tools. 

However, you must know that both have their place in configuration management and has additional features plus some benefits. You as DevOps architect must decide which one to use when and in which project. 

For some DevOps project, the Ansible may be a better choice it depends on how well you analyze, and for some DevOps project, the Chef may be a better choice. The decision must be based on the assets or the infrastructure that you study.

As an aspiring DevOps professional you must learn both and you can take up the DevOps certification course with StarAgile institute. StarAgile offers DevOps Online Training that is interactive and covers both lab and theory sessions.

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