Terraform vs ansible LEARNOVITA

Terraform vs Ansible: Key Differences Among Terraform and Ansible

Last updated on 28th Oct 2022, Artciles, Blog

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Charan (AWS Cloud Architect )

Charan is an AWS Cloud Architect Senior Manager and has 8+ years of experience in controlling cloud-based information and cloud-Architect inside the process of making hardware and software recommendations, and handling audit logs, AWS Cloud trial.

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    • In this article you will get
    • 1.What is Terraform?
    • 2.What is Ansible?g
    • 3.Terraform vs Ansible: Similarities and Differences
    • 4.When should you not use Ansible or Terraform?
    • 5.Conclusion: Terraform or Ansible?

What is Terraform?

Terraform’s product website explain it as “…an infrastructure as code (IaC) tool that allows to build, change, and version infrastructure safely and efficiently. This includes a low-level components such as compute instances, storage, and networking, as well as a high-level components like DNS entries, SaaS features, etc. Terraform can manage both an existing service providers and custom in-house solutions.”It is open-source platform made for the building, changing, and versioning infrastructure effectively and securely and is more straightforward.


What is Ansible?

According to Red Hat, Ansible is the open-source IT automation engine that automates a provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, orchestration, and the many other IT processes.”Ansible is the configuration management tool that focuses on a deploying and provisioning applications with IaC.

Ansible architecture

Terraform vs Ansible: Similarities and Differences

    Category An Orchestration, provisioning tool A Configuration management tool
    Default Approach Follows a declarative Infrastructure as Code approach Follows procedural approach.
    Language A Declarative An Imperative
    Focus Infrastructure provisioning Configuration management within an infrastructure
    Best Known For Orchestrating setup cloud infrastructure and also cloud services from nothing Configuring servers with a correct software and updates on an already configured cloud
    Deployment Can be used to deploy a load balances, storage, computing, and VPCs Can deploy the apps on top of the cloud
    Provisioning Specializes in an infrastructure provisioning. Doesn’t support bare metal provisioning by a default Limited support for an infrastructure provisioning. Supports a provisioning of bare metal servers
    Life Cycle Management It’s lifecycle aware and maintains state of a deployments. Highly depends on lifecycle or state management Has no lifecycle awareness. Does not have a lifecycle management at all
    User intervention Once given an end instruction, can carry out all the steps to present the final output. Users must dictate every step to reach the end result
    Packaging and Templating Does not provide a better packaging and templating Provides a full support for packaging and templating
    Agentless Yes Yes
    Masterless Yes Yes
    Syntax HCL (Hashicorp Configuration Language) YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language)
    Infrastructure Immutable infrastructure. Considered an ideal for keeping the environment in a steady state Mutable infrastructure. Repairs issues instead of replacing a whole infrastructure

Similarities: Terraform vs Ansibleg

Both the Terraform and Ansible allow provisioning of infrastructure using a Infrastructure as Code, so can say that they are both used as a IaC platforms.

Additionally, both tools can execute a remote commands on a newly created virtual machine. Or, to put it an another way, both are agentless.

Orchestration and provisioning is when users create a infrastructure, including virtual machines, databases, network components, and other resources.

On a other hand, configuration management automates versioned software component installation, operating system configuration tasks, network and a firewall configuration, and related tasks. Although a Terraform and Ansible can perform configuration management tasks, the latter does a far better job.

They also both work with the cloud APIs and are both open-source. Developers can also use a Terraform and Ansible simultaneously, so the two tools complement each other rather than a replace each other.

Differences: Terraform vs Ansible

Declarative vs. Imperative:

The first thing should tackle is a declarative versus the imperative approach. For example, if wanted to create ten web servers using a Terraform,, want to create a ten web servers.” That is the declarative statement.However, if usinga Ansible, “If these web servers don’t exist be already, create one first, then create other nine.” That is the declarative statement.

Immutable vs. Mutable:

Cannot change the immutable server. Users who want to make a changes in an immutable virtual server destroy the old version and replace it with a version that encompasses the changes. A mutable virtual server allows users to make a changes without blowing up a whole server.Ansible emphasizes mutability, while a Terraform is considered immutable. However, conditions are defaults; both tools can conduct a mutable operations and have immutable elements to one degree or another.


Terraform is a geared towards infrastructure automation and interprets models described in a HCL. With Terraform, the required environment elements (e.g., networks, servers, etc.) are separately explained , along with their relationships to the one another. Then, Terraform assesses and evaluates a model, develops a plan based on the dependencies, and delivers optimized commands to a IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).Repeated runs do nothing if there are no changes in an environment or plan. However, any update in the plan or environment synchronizes a cloud infrastructure to the new plan’s intent.

When should not use Ansible or Terraform?

Ansible: If configuration drift is the issue , don’t use a Ansible. Configuration drift occurs when users are change settings so that new versions of virtual infrastructure “drift” away from an original configuration.

Terraform: If using images to provision VMs, and may need dozens of images to accommodate the application servers, messaging servers, web servers, etc. Since Terraform doesn’t allow to change images themselves, need an image with an exact state .If making three changes a day for every day of the working week in a server, that’s fifteen copies of a server.

Conclusion: Terraform or Ansible?

So, which one is a better? It depends on what are b looking for and what features matter . If looking for a user-friendly tool with good scheduling capabilities and smooth Docker integration, then go with a Terraform. On other hand, if more interested in a security, good ACL functionality, and something that plays well with the traditional automated frameworks, then Ansible’s .

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