ANSIBLE VS DOCKER

This blog post is about the comparison between two popular configuration management tools, Ansible and Puppet. The article highlights the key differences and similarities between these tools and provides insights into their features and functionalities. The post includes an introduction to the topic, a detailed comparison of the two tools, and a conclusion discussing their future prospects in the market.
ANSIBLE-VS-DOCKER

Companies must stay ahead of their competition in today’s fast-paced business world by adopting the latest technologies. DevOps is one such technology that has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. Ansible and Docker are the most popular DevOps tools companies use worldwide. As both tools have unique features and advantages, choosing between them can be a challenging decision for many businesses, we have covered a brief comparison of Ansible vs Docker in this article to assist you in choosing one.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Ansible?
  2. How Ansible Works?
  3. Features of Ansible
  4. Pros of Ansible
  5. Cons of Ansible
  6. What is Docker?
  7. How Docker Works?
  8. Features of Docker
  9. Pros of Docker
  10. Cons of Docker
  11. Ansible vs Docker: Differences
  12. How to Use Together
  13. When to Use Docker
  14. When to Use Ansible
  15. FAQs
  16. Conclusion

What is Ansible?

Ansible is an open-source information technology automation tool. It automates many IT processes like provisioning, orchestration, application deployment and configuration management. Ansible automation is used to automate regular tasks, provide security, provision infrastructure, install software, and share automation across the entire organization.

 How Ansible Works?

We know that Ansible works on automation. It connects the programs you want to automate by pushing the execution of instructions. Here, Ansible programs are written with specific expectations of the commands, endpoint’s connectivity, and interface; furthermore, Ansible executes these modules and removes them after completion. There are no extra servers and databases required. Users can work with their favourite terminal program to keep track of changes in your content. Let us understand the process in which Ansible works.

  • Setting the Architecture – The ansible architecture consists of modules, inventories, plugins, playbooks, and APIs. Ansible connects to the nodes and pushes out the ansible modules.
  • SSH Keys – SSH keys are an essential part of how Ansible works. Even though passwords are supported, SSH keys are one of the best ways of accessing Ansible.
  • Managing Inventory – Managing inventory is also essential to how Ansible works. Ansible represents all the machines that it operates on a simple INI file. It puts all the managed devices into groups according to the users’ choice.

Features of Ansible

Ansible has many features for managing operating systems, IT infrastructure, networks, and services in less time. Let us look at them.

● Configuration Management 

Ansible is designed to be very simple, reliable, and consistent for configuration management. If you are already in IT, you can get up and running with it very quickly. Ansible configurations are simple data descriptions of Infrastructure and are readable by humans and machines. 

 ● Security Management 

 In today’s world, security is the crucial aspect of any industry, whether it will be the security of your system from attacks, the security of information stored in your plan or the security of customer data. Ansible helps us to make systems in an enterprise more secure. 

 ● Stateless and Agentless 

No agents or software are deployed on the servers to work with Ansible. The connection is made through SSH or with the help of Python.

It is also a stateless process, meaning it can be understood in isolation. There is no stored knowledge of or reference to past transactions.

● Push Architecture 

With the push architecture, the provisioning server accesses the Virtual Machines of interest and pushes the artefacts and applications directly onto the VM.

 Pros of Ansible 

  • Ansible is beneficial to users because of being simple to learn, straightforward language and independent. Here’s how you’ll be able to make a better decision:
  • The first of many advantages of Ansible refers to its simplicity. The simplicity is not only meant for professionals but also beginners. It is easy to learn, so users can learn to use Ansible quickly and improve productivity. 
  • The following important addition among the benefits of Ansible refers to its agentless nature. Ansible manages all the master-agent communications through Standard SSH. Ansible does not require any agents installed on remote systems to ensure management. 
  • One of the prominent advantages of Ansible also refers to the language in which it is written. Python is a human-readable language and serves as the basis for Ansible. It provides better facilities for getting up Ansible and running it due to the presence of Python libraries on most Linux distributions by default.

Cons of Ansible

After understanding the advantages of Ansible, let us know how and what problems it can create through the following points.

  • Ansible is New to the Market: Unlike its renowned competitors, Ansible is new. As a result, it has a small developer or user community. Furthermore, the unique presence of Ansible on the market implies the possibilities of undiscovered bugs, software issues, and edge scenarios.
  • Insufficient User Interface: Ansible was initially a command-line-only tool. The first effort of Ansible at making a user interface was with AWX’s graphical user interface. The other component in the UI was the REST endpoint, which is meant for easier infrastructure management.
  • Limited Windows Support. Ansible version 1.7 supports Windows as well as Linux/Unix nodes. In the case of Windows, Ansible employs a native PowerShell remoting rather than SSH. As a result, a Linux control machine is mandatory for the management of Windows hosts. 

Docker is an open-source containerization platform for developing, deploying, and managing applications in lightweight virtualized environments called containers.

It is mainly a software development platform for distributed applications that work efficiently in different environments. By making the software system agnostic, developers do not have to worry about compatibility issues. Packaging apps into isolated environments (containers) also makes developing, deploying, maintaining, and using applications easier.

How Docker Works

The following official high-level docker architecture diagram demonstrates the Docker workflow:

  • Docker Daemon: Docker has a client-server architecture. It (docked) or server is responsible for all the actions related to containers.
  • Docker Image: Images are the basic building blocks of Docker. It contains the OS libraries, dependencies, and tools to run an application.
  • Dockerfile: Docker has a concept of Dockerfile, which takes care of building the image. A Dockerfile is a text file containing one command per line.
  • Docker Registry: Docker Registry is a repository or storage for Docker images.
  • Docker Container: Docker Containers are created from existing images. It is a writable layer.

Features of Docker

Docker has many features that make it stand out among other automation tools. Let us look at some of its user-friendly features.

● Cross Platform Tool 

Docker is a cross-platform tool. It runs on MacOS, Windows and Linux. Users can use the containers everywhere.

● Code Isolation 

Docker provides containers that are used to run codes in an isolated environment. Since each container is independent, Docker can execute any code. 

● Seamless Integration 

Docker is a cross-platform tool that allows seamless integration with MacOS, Windows, Linux and other operating systems.

● Security Management 

It saves secrets into the swarm and chooses to give services access to certain secrets, including a few essential commands to the engine, such as secret inspect, secret create, etc.

● Docker Swarm 

Swarm is a clustering and scheduling tool for Docker containers. At the front end, it uses the Docker API, which helps us to use various tools to control it. It is a self-organizing group of engines that enables pluggable backends.

Pros of Docker

Docker comes with some prominent advantages. This includes significant investment return, simple and faster configuration, etc. Let us understand them in detail. 

  • Significant return on investments: Dockers give a substantial return on investments. This works in favour, especially for large, established companies, which must generate consistent revenue over a long period. 
  • Rapid Deployment: It can reduce deployment to seconds. It creates a container for every process. So, without worrying about the cost to bring it up again, it would be higher than what is affordable; data can be created and destroyed.
  • Security: Docker ensures that applications running on containers are completely segregated and isolated from each other. These grants complete control over flow and management to the user from a security point of view. 
  • Simplicity and Faster Configurations: This is a significant advantage of Docker. It simplifies configurations, and thus, the process becomes faster. It gives flexibility to users to take their configuration, put that into the code, and further deploy it without any problems.

Cons of Docker

  • Every coin has two sides. Along with the advantages, there are also downsides of Docker as a tool due to its incomplete features, non-cross-platform compatibility etc. Let us understand them in detail.
  • Incomplete features: There are a ton of feature requests under progress, such as container self-registration and self-inspects, copying files from the host to the container, and many more.
  • Data in the container: There are times when a container goes down, so after that, it needs a backup and recovery strategy; although we have several solutions for that, they still need to be automated and more scalable.
  • No run at bare-metal speed: Docker containers have less overhead but not zero overhead. If we run an application directly on a bare-metal server, we get actual bare-metal speed even without using containers or virtual machines. However, Containers do not run at bare-metal speeds.
  • No cross-platform compatibility: If an application is designed to run in a Docker container on Windows, it cannot run on Linux or vice versa. However, Virtual machines are not subject to this limitation

Ansible vs Docker: Differences 

Following points differentiate Ansible from Docker: 

● Pricing 

Ansible pricing depends on the number of nodes you manage. There are two pricing levels: standard and premium. The legal plan is ideal for enterprise IT operations. On the other hand, the premium plan is suitable for mission-critical DevOps. The main difference between the two plans is the level of support. 

Docker has four pricing plans: personal, pro, team, and business. The individual plan is complimentary, while the pro plan costs $5 monthly. The team plan costs you $7 per user per month, while the business plan costs you $21 per user per month. The main difference between these plans is the available features.

● Repeatable tables 

Users can repeat Ansible in any container or application. This enables you to track the application’s activity and last time use. Containers in Docker cannot be repeated. 

● Infrastructure provisioning 

Ansible manages the entire environment together with the applications or containers. Therefore, you do not have to worry about provisioning the underlying environment. On the other hand, Docker manages the underlying application partially. It works only in the assigned territory. Therefore, users should be careful of the containerized environment.

● Images 

Ansible does not have portable images. If users need ideas in Ansible, you must download them from other sources. On the other hand, Docker has available and mobile photos. Users can use Docker images for the containerization of applications.

● Programming Language 

Users will need python knowledge to operate Ansible. Ansible also uses human-readable YAML templates to program repetitive tasks that do not require the user to learn advanced programming. Docker is written in the Go programming language. Go language delivers excellent functionality and enables Docker developers a simple and powerful way of operating with Linux. 

● Functionality 

Ansible is primarily a configuration tool. It helps configure the application or software inside the container. The software or application can be either inside or outside the container. Ansible provides the server installation, configuration, and deployment. Docker keeps applications inside the container. The main function of Docker is to enable developers to package, ship, and run any application as a lightweight, portable container. It provides the environment to run the application detached from the operating system.

How to Use Together?

Step.1 Create a Docker image of your application. This should contain everything that your application needs to run, such as application code, libraries, dependencies, and runtime.

Step.2 Use ansible to install Docker on your servers. You can do this by using the docker_install module in Ansible.

Step.3 Use ansible to deploy your Docker image to your servers. You can do this by using the docker_image module in Ansible. This module lets you pull a Docker image from a registry and run it on your servers.

Step.4 Use ansible to manage the running Docker containers. You can use the docker_container module to start, stop, and manage the containers on your servers.

Look closely at the situations where you can use Docker:

1. Running Applications in Different Environments 

Docker allows you to run applications in different environments. This includes on your servers or in the cloud. Deploying and running applications like staging or development becomes easier here.

2. Isolating Applications 

Docker containers provide isolation for running applications. This means each container runs in its isolated environment. This enables running multiple applications on the same server without any interference.

3. Simplifying the development process 

Docker is used to simplifying the development process. It is done by providing a consistent environment for building and testing applications.

4. Automating the build process 

Docker is used to automating the build process for applications. It includes building and testing the applications in a consistent and reproductive environment.

5. Sharing Applications 

Docker allows the user to share applications with others by packaging them with the help of a Docker image. It helps share applications with team members for better productivity.

When to Use Ansible 

Users can use Ansible in the following situations: 

1. Deploying Applications 

Ansible is used to automate the deployment of applications on multiple servers. You can use Ansible to install software, manage dependencies, etc.

2. Managing Infrastructure 

Ansible manages the configuration of servers and other infrastructure components like networks and storage.

3. Managing Multiple Environments 

Ansible is used to manage multiple environments at a time. This includes staging, development, and production. This saves time and improves productivity.

4. Provisioning New Servers 

Ansible is also used to automate the process of setting up new servers. This includes software installation and server configuration to meet user requirements. 

5. Automating Routine tasks 

Ansible is used to automate routine tasks. This includes backups and updates. It is used to save time and reduce the risk of errors. 

FAQs

 1. In which ways Ansible and Docker are similar to each other?

Both tools are designed to automate tasks. Ansible is used to automate software deployment and infrastructure management tasks, while Docker is used to automating building, shipping, and running applications.

2. How are Ansible and Docker different from each other?

Ansible is a configuration management tool, while Docker is a containerization tool.

3. What do you mean by a containerization tool?

A containerization tool is a tool that allows you to package an application and its dependencies into a single container.

4. Does Docker have automation?

 No. 

 5. Is it easy to maintain Ansible?

 Yes.

Conclusion

Both Ansible and Docker have unique features and advantages, and choosing between them depends on the specific needs of a business. Ansible is more suitable for configuration management, while Docker is better suited for containerization. Both have unique features and advantages, and choosing between them can be tough. We hope the comparison article has helped you choose the one that could bring the best solutions to your organization.

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