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Ansible vs Capistrano: What are the differences?
What is Ansible? Radically simple configuration-management, application deployment, task-execution, and multi-node orchestration engine. 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 Capistrano? A remote server automation and deployment tool written in Ruby. Capistrano is a remote server automation tool. It supports the scripting and execution of arbitrary tasks, and includes a set of sane-default deployment workflows.
Ansible and Capistrano can be categorized as "Server Configuration and Automation" tools.
Some of the features offered by Ansible are:
- Ansible's natural automation language allows sysadmins, developers, and IT managers to complete automation projects in hours, not weeks.
- Ansible uses SSH by default instead of requiring agents everywhere. Avoid extra open ports, improve security, eliminate "managing the management", and reclaim CPU cycles.
- Ansible automates app deployment, configuration management, workflow orchestration, and even cloud provisioning all from one system.
On the other hand, Capistrano provides the following key features:
- Reliably deploy web application to any number of machines simultaneously, in sequence or as a rolling set
- Automate audits of any number of machines (checking login logs, enumerating uptimes, and/or applying security patches)
- Script arbitrary workflows over SSH
"Agentless" is the top reason why over 251 developers like Ansible, while over 122 developers mention "Automated deployment with several custom recipes" as the leading cause for choosing Capistrano.
Ansible and Capistrano are both open source tools. It seems that Ansible with 37.8K GitHub stars and 15.8K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Capistrano with 11.1K GitHub stars and 1.72K GitHub forks.
PedidosYa, Keen, and New Relic are some of the popular companies that use Ansible, whereas Capistrano is used by New Relic, Movielala, and Repro. Ansible has a broader approval, being mentioned in 955 company stacks & 578 developers stacks; compared to Capistrano, which is listed in 295 company stacks and 81 developer stacks.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Terraform provides a cloud-provider agnostic way of provisioning cloud infrastructure while AWS CloudFormation is limited to AWS.
Pulumi is a great tool that provides similar features as Terraform, including advanced features like policy and cost management.
We see that Terraform has great support in the cloud community. For most cloud services we use, there is an official Terraform provider. We also believe in the declarative model of HCL, which is why we chose Terraform over Pulumi. However, we still keep an eye on Pulumi's progress.
Ansible is great for provisioning software and configuration within virtual machines, but we don't think that Ansible is the right tool for provisioning cloud infrastructure since it's built around the assumption that there is an inventory of remote machines. Terraform also supports more services that we use than Ansible.
Pros of Ansible
- Great configuration210
- Easy to learn155
- Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done55
- Makes sense35
- Super efficient and flexible30
- Dynamic Inventory11
- Backed by Red Hat9
- Works with AWS7
- Cloud Oriented6
- Easy to maintain6
- Vagrant provisioner4
- Simple and powerful4
- Multi language4
- Because SSH4
- Procedural or declarative, or both4
- Debugging is simple2
- Merge hash to get final configuration similar to hiera2
- Fast as hell2
- Manage any OS1
- Work on windows, but difficult to manage1
- Certified Content1
Pros of Capistrano
- Automated deployment with several custom recipes121
- Release-folders with symlinks11
- Multistage deployment9
- Cryptic syntax2
- Integrated rollback2
- Supports aws1
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Cons of Ansible
- Hard to install5
- Doesn't Run on Windows3
- Backward compatibility3
- No immutable infrastructure2
Cons of Capistrano
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