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Ansible vs Tower: What are the differences?

Developers describe Ansible as "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鈥檚 goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use. On the other hand, Tower is detailed as "The most powerful Git client for Mac & Windows". Use all of Git's powerful feature set - in a GUI that makes you more productive.

Ansible belongs to "Server Configuration and Automation" category of the tech stack, while Tower can be primarily classified under "Source Code Management Desktop Apps".

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, Tower provides the following key features:

  • Clone & create repos with a click - Manage your GitHub, Bitbucket & Beanstalk accounts from within Tower
  • Open repos quickly - Tower's "Quick Open" dialog finds and opens repositories in no time
  • Automate the boring stuff - Fetching and stashing are automatically done for you, if you wish

"Agentless" is the primary reason why developers consider Ansible over the competitors, whereas "Git" was stated as the key factor in picking Tower.

Ansible is an open source tool with 37.8K GitHub stars and 15.8K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Ansible's open source repository on GitHub.

PedidosYa, Keen, and New Relic are some of the popular companies that use Ansible, whereas Tower is used by Coderus, WILD, and Paw. Ansible has a broader approval, being mentioned in 955 company stacks & 578 developers stacks; compared to Tower, which is listed in 29 company stacks and 16 developer stacks.

Advice on Ansible and Tower
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Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef
and
AnsibleAnsible

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
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
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 Tower
  • 276
    Agentless
  • 204
    Great configuration
  • 195
    Simple
  • 173
    Powerful
  • 151
    Easy to learn
  • 66
    Flexible
  • 54
    Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done
  • 34
    Makes sense
  • 29
    Super efficient and flexible
  • 27
    Powerful
  • 11
    Dynamic Inventory
  • 8
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 6
    Cloud Oriented
  • 6
    Easy to maintain
  • 4
    Because SSH
  • 4
    Multi language
  • 4
    Easy
  • 4
    Simple
  • 4
    Procedural or declarative, or both
  • 4
    Simple and powerful
  • 3
    Consistency
  • 3
    Vagrant provisioner
  • 2
    Fast as hell
  • 2
    Masterless
  • 2
    Well-documented
  • 2
    Merge hash to get final configuration similar to hiera
  • 2
    Debugging is simple
  • 1
    Work on windows, but difficult to manage
  • 1
    Certified Content
  • 18
    Git
  • 16
    Just works
  • 10
    Version control
  • 6
    Awesome
  • 6
    Simple layout
  • 4
    Multiple windows
  • 3
    Multiple tabs
  • 3
    Automatic repo discovery
  • 2
    Gitflow support
  • 2
    Uses standard git terminology and methods
  • 2
    Submodule support
  • 2
    Interactive stage or discard by hunks or lines
  • 2
    Github integration
  • 2
    Full featured client
  • 1
    SAS

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of Tower
  • 5
    Dangerous
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Bloated
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
  • 4
    Subscription based
  • 4
    Expensive
  • 1
    No side by side diff
  • 0
    Merge conflict resolution impossible/unclear

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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鈥檚 goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.

What is Tower?

Use all of Git's powerful feature set - in a GUI that makes you more productive.

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What companies use Ansible?
What companies use Tower?
See which teams inside your own company are using Ansible or Tower.
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What tools integrate with Tower?

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What are some alternatives to Ansible and Tower?
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