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Ansible vs Kubernetes: What are the differences?

Key Differences between Ansible and Kubernetes

Ansible and Kubernetes are both popular tools in the DevOps world. While they can both be used to manage IT infrastructure, they have significant differences in terms of their approach and functionality.

  1. Configuration Management vs Container Orchestration: Ansible is primarily a configuration management tool that focuses on automating the setup and maintenance of IT infrastructure. It uses declarative YAML files to define the desired state of the infrastructure and executes tasks on remote hosts to achieve that state. On the other hand, Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It focuses on managing containers and their associated resources in a scalable and efficient manner.

  2. Agentless vs Agent-based Architecture: Ansible follows an agentless architecture, which means it doesn't require any software to be installed on the target hosts. It uses SSH or WinRM protocols to connect to remote machines and execute tasks. In contrast, Kubernetes follows an agent-based architecture where the Kubernetes agent, known as kubelet, needs to be installed on each host in the cluster. The kubelet communicates with the Kubernetes master to manage containerized applications.

  3. Procedural vs Declarative Approach: Ansible employs a procedural approach where tasks are executed in a predefined sequence. Playbooks are written in a procedural manner, specifying detailed steps to achieve a desired state. Kubernetes, on the other hand, follows a declarative approach. Desired state is defined in YAML manifests, and Kubernetes then ensures that the actual state matches the desired state, taking care of the necessary actions automatically.

  4. Infrastructure vs Application-centric focus: Ansible is primarily focused on managing infrastructure components such as servers, networks, and storage. It can be used to automate tasks like provisioning servers, configuring networking, and managing software installations. Kubernetes, on the other hand, is more application-centric and focuses on managing containerized applications. It provides features like service discovery, load balancing, and automatic scaling to ensure efficient running of applications.

  5. Multi-node Orchestration vs Single-node Orchestration: Ansible excels at orchestrating tasks across multiple nodes in a distributed environment. It can execute tasks simultaneously on multiple hosts, coordinating their actions. In contrast, Kubernetes is primarily designed for orchestrating containerized applications within a single cluster of nodes. It manages the lifecycle of containers, scheduling them on appropriate nodes and ensuring their high availability.

  6. Community vs Vendor Support: Ansible is an open-source tool with a large and active community. It has a wide range of community-contributed modules and roles, providing extensive support for various infrastructure components and services. Kubernetes, although open-source, is backed by major vendors like Google, Microsoft, and Red Hat. It has a strong backing and a rich ecosystem of tools and extensions provided by these vendors.

In summary, Ansible is a configuration management tool with an agentless and procedural approach, primarily focused on managing IT infrastructure, while Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform with an agent-based and declarative approach, primarily focused on managing containerized applications within a single cluster.

Advice on Ansible and Kubernetes

Hello, we have a bunch of local hosts (Linux and Windows) where Docker containers are running with bamboo agents on them. Currently, each container is installed as a system service. Each host is set up manually. I want to improve the system by adding some sort of orchestration software that should install, update and check for consistency in my docker containers. I don't need any clouds, all hosts are local. I'd prefer simple solutions. What orchestration system should I choose?

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Replies (1)
Mortie Torabi
Recommends
on
Docker SwarmDocker Swarm

If you just want the basic orchestration between a set of defined hosts, go with Docker Swarm. If you want more advanced orchestration + flexibility in terms of resource management and load balancing go with Kubernetes. In both cases, you can make it even more complex while making the whole architecture more understandable and replicable by using Terraform.

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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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Decisions about Ansible and Kubernetes
Michael Roberts

We develop rapidly with docker-compose orchestrated services, however, for production - we utilise the very best ideas that Kubernetes has to offer: SCALE! We can scale when needed, setting a maximum and minimum level of nodes for each application layer - scaling only when the load balancer needs it. This allowed us to reduce our devops costs by 40% whilst also maintaining an SLA of 99.87%.

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Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 30 upvotes · 9.6M views

Our whole DevOps stack consists of the following tools:

  • GitHub (incl. GitHub Pages/Markdown for Documentation, GettingStarted and HowTo's) for collaborative review and code management tool
  • Respectively Git as revision control system
  • SourceTree as Git GUI
  • Visual Studio Code as IDE
  • CircleCI for continuous integration (automatize development process)
  • Prettier / TSLint / ESLint as code linter
  • SonarQube as quality gate
  • Docker as container management (incl. Docker Compose for multi-container application management)
  • VirtualBox for operating system simulation tests
  • Kubernetes as cluster management for docker containers
  • Heroku for deploying in test environments
  • nginx as web server (preferably used as facade server in production environment)
  • SSLMate (using OpenSSL) for certificate management
  • Amazon EC2 (incl. Amazon S3) for deploying in stage (production-like) and production environments
  • PostgreSQL as preferred database system
  • Redis as preferred in-memory database/store (great for caching)

The main reason we have chosen Kubernetes over Docker Swarm is related to the following artifacts:

  • Key features: Easy and flexible installation, Clear dashboard, Great scaling operations, Monitoring is an integral part, Great load balancing concepts, Monitors the condition and ensures compensation in the event of failure.
  • Applications: An application can be deployed using a combination of pods, deployments, and services (or micro-services).
  • Functionality: Kubernetes as a complex installation and setup process, but it not as limited as Docker Swarm.
  • Monitoring: It supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when the services are deployed within the cluster (Elasticsearch/Kibana (ELK), Heapster/Grafana, Sysdig cloud integration).
  • Scalability: All-in-one framework for distributed systems.
  • Other Benefits: Kubernetes is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), huge community among container orchestration tools, it is an open source and modular tool that works with any OS.
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Pros of Ansible
Pros of Kubernetes
  • 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
  • 164
    Leading docker container management solution
  • 128
    Simple and powerful
  • 106
    Open source
  • 76
    Backed by google
  • 58
    The right abstractions
  • 25
    Scale services
  • 20
    Replication controller
  • 11
    Permission managment
  • 9
    Supports autoscaling
  • 8
    Cheap
  • 8
    Simple
  • 6
    Self-healing
  • 5
    No cloud platform lock-in
  • 5
    Promotes modern/good infrascture practice
  • 5
    Open, powerful, stable
  • 5
    Reliable
  • 4
    Scalable
  • 4
    Quick cloud setup
  • 3
    Cloud Agnostic
  • 3
    Captain of Container Ship
  • 3
    A self healing environment with rich metadata
  • 3
    Runs on azure
  • 3
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 3
    Custom and extensibility
  • 2
    Sfg
  • 2
    Gke
  • 2
    Everything of CaaS
  • 2
    Golang
  • 2
    Easy setup
  • 2
    Expandable

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of Kubernetes
  • 8
    Dangerous
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
    Bloated
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
  • 16
    Steep learning curve
  • 15
    Poor workflow for development
  • 8
    Orchestrates only infrastructure
  • 4
    High resource requirements for on-prem clusters
  • 2
    Too heavy for simple systems
  • 1
    Additional vendor lock-in (Docker)
  • 1
    More moving parts to secure
  • 1
    Additional Technology Overhead

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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 Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.

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What are some alternatives to Ansible and Kubernetes?
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.
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.
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.
See all alternatives