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Ansible

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AWS OpsWorks vs Ansible vs Chef: What are the differences?

Introduction

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between AWS OpsWorks, Ansible, and Chef. These are all popular tools used for configuration management and automation in IT infrastructure. Each tool has its own unique features and advantages that make it suitable for different use cases.

  1. Hosted vs. Self-hosted: AWS OpsWorks is a hosted service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), while Ansible and Chef are self-hosted tools. With OpsWorks, you can quickly deploy and manage applications on AWS without having to worry about infrastructure setup. On the other hand, Ansible and Chef require you to provision and manage your own infrastructure.

  2. Infrastructure as Code: Ansible and Chef are both infrastructure-as-code tools, meaning they allow you to define and manage your infrastructure using code or configuration files. This enables you to version-control your infrastructure and apply changes consistently across different environments. OpsWorks, although it has some configuration management capabilities, is more focused on providing a managed deployment and management platform.

  3. Agent vs. Agentless: Ansible is an agentless tool, which means it does not require any software to be installed on the managed nodes. It uses SSH to remotely execute commands on the target machines. Chef, on the other hand, requires an agent called the "Chef client" to be installed on the managed nodes. This allows for more advanced features like real-time monitoring and reporting. OpsWorks also uses an agent, but it is managed by AWS and automatically installed on the instances.

  4. Ease of Use: Ansible is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It has a low learning curve and uses plain English-like syntax (YAML) for defining tasks and configurations. Chef, on the other hand, has a steeper learning curve and uses a more complex Ruby-based DSL. OpsWorks provides a user-friendly web interface for managing applications and instances, making it easier to get started for those new to infrastructure automation.

  5. Community and Ecosystem: Ansible has a large and active community, with a wide range of community-contributed modules and playbooks available for various use cases. Chef also has a strong and active community, with a large number of cookbooks and resources available. However, as OpsWorks is a proprietary service, its community and ecosystem are not as extensive as Ansible and Chef.

  6. Integration with Cloud Providers: AWS OpsWorks is tightly integrated with the Amazon Web Services ecosystem, making it easy to deploy and manage applications on AWS. It supports features like seamless integration with Amazon EC2 instances, automatic scaling, and integration with other AWS services like Elastic Load Balancer and CloudWatch. Ansible and Chef, on the other hand, are more agnostic and can be used to manage infrastructure on any cloud provider or even on-premises servers.

In summary, AWS OpsWorks is a hosted service that provides a managed platform for deploying and managing applications on AWS. Ansible and Chef are self-hosted tools that offer more flexibility in terms of infrastructure management and support a wider range of cloud providers. Choosing the right tool depends on the specific requirements of your organization and the level of control you want over your infrastructure.

Advice on Ansible, AWS OpsWorks, and Chef
Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsible
and
RundeckRundeck

We have a lot of operations running using Rundeck (including deployments) and we also have various roles created in Ansible for infrastructure creation, which we execute using Rundeck. Rundeck we are using a community edition. Since we are already using Rundeck for executing the Ansible role, need an advice. What difference will it make if we replace Rundeck with Ansible Tower? Advantages and Disadvantages? We are using Jenkins to call Rundeck Job, same will be used for Ansible Tower if we replace Rundeck.

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Replies (1)
Denis Gukov

I never use Tower, but I can recommend Ansible Semaphore as alternative to Rundeck. It is lightweight, easy to use and tailored for work with Ansible.

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Rogério R. Alcântara
Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs
in

Personal Dotfiles management

Given that they are all “configuration management” tools - meaning they are designed to deploy, configure and manage servers - what would be the simplest - and yet robust - solution to manage personal dotfiles - for n00bs.

Ideally, I reckon, it should:

  • be containerized (Docker?)
  • be versionable (Git)
  • ensure idempotency
  • allow full automation (tests, CI/CD, etc.)
  • be fully recoverable (Linux/ macOS)
  • be easier to setup/manage (as much as possible)

Does it make sense?

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Replies (3)
terry chay
Principal Engineer at RaiseMe · | 9 upvotes · 61.4K views
Recommends
on
AnsibleAnsible

I recommend whatever you are most comfortable with/whatever might already be installed in the system. Note that, for personal dotfiles, it does not need to be containerized or have full automation/testing. It just needs to handle multiple OS and platform and be idempotent. Git will handle the heavy lifting. Note that you'll have to separate out certain files like the private SSH keys and write your CM so that it will pull it from another store or assist in manually importing them.

I personally use Ansible since it is a serverless design and is in Python, which I prefer to Ruby. Saltstack was too new when I started to port my dotfile management scripts from shell into a configuration management tool. I think any of the above is fine.

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Recommends
on
SaltSalt

You should check out SaltStack. It's a lot more powerful than Puppet, Chef, & Ansible. If not Salt, then I would go Ansible. But stay away from Puppet & Chef. 10+ year user of Puppet, and 2+ year user of Chef.

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Attila Fulop
Management Advisor at artkonekt · | 3 upvotes · 25K views
Recommends

Chef is a definite no-go for me. I learned it the hard way (ie. got a few tasks in a prod system) and it took quite a lot to grasp it on an acceptable level. Ansible in turn is much more straightforward and much easier to test.

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Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
on
AnsibleAnsible

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa
Recommends
on
KubernetesKubernetes
at

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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Pros of Ansible
Pros of AWS OpsWorks
Pros of Chef
  • 284
    Agentless
  • 210
    Great configuration
  • 199
    Simple
  • 176
    Powerful
  • 155
    Easy to learn
  • 69
    Flexible
  • 55
    Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done
  • 35
    Makes sense
  • 30
    Super efficient and flexible
  • 27
    Powerful
  • 11
    Dynamic Inventory
  • 9
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 6
    Cloud Oriented
  • 6
    Easy to maintain
  • 4
    Vagrant provisioner
  • 4
    Simple and powerful
  • 4
    Multi language
  • 4
    Simple
  • 4
    Because SSH
  • 4
    Procedural or declarative, or both
  • 4
    Easy
  • 3
    Consistency
  • 2
    Well-documented
  • 2
    Masterless
  • 2
    Debugging is simple
  • 2
    Merge hash to get final configuration similar to hiera
  • 2
    Fast as hell
  • 1
    Manage any OS
  • 1
    Work on windows, but difficult to manage
  • 1
    Certified Content
  • 32
    Devops
  • 19
    Cloud management
  • 110
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 76
    Reusable components
  • 47
    Integration testing with Vagrant
  • 43
    Repeatable
  • 30
    Mock testing with Chefspec
  • 14
    Ruby
  • 8
    Can package cookbooks to guarantee repeatability
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 3
    Has marketplace where you get readymade cookbooks
  • 3
    Matured product with good community support
  • 2
    Less declarative more procedural
  • 2
    Open source configuration mgmt made easy(ish)

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of AWS OpsWorks
Cons of Chef
  • 8
    Dangerous
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
    Bloated
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
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      What is Ansible?

      Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.

      What is AWS OpsWorks?

      Start from templates for common technologies like Ruby, Node.JS, PHP, and Java, or build your own using Chef recipes to install software packages and perform any task that you can script. AWS OpsWorks can scale your application using automatic load-based or time-based scaling and maintain the health of your application by detecting failed instances and replacing them. You have full control of deployments and automation of each component

      What is Chef?

      Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

      Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

      What companies use Ansible?
      What companies use AWS OpsWorks?
      What companies use Chef?

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      What tools integrate with Ansible?
      What tools integrate with AWS OpsWorks?
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      What are some alternatives to Ansible, AWS OpsWorks, and Chef?
      Puppet Labs
      Puppet is an automated administrative engine for your Linux, Unix, and Windows systems and performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.
      Salt
      Salt is a new approach to infrastructure management. Easy enough to get running in minutes, scalable enough to manage tens of thousands of servers, and fast enough to communicate with them in seconds. Salt delivers a dynamic communication bus for infrastructures that can be used for orchestration, remote execution, configuration management and much more.
      Terraform
      With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
      Jenkins
      In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
      AWS CloudFormation
      You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work.
      See all alternatives