Ansible vs Chef – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Ansible vs Chef – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). Ansible is a very simple IT automation engine that automates cloud provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, in service coordination and many other IT needs.

On the other hand Chef is another powerful configuration management tool that is used for infrastructure automation. Additionally Chef is written using the Ruby programming language. In addition it has a command line interface that has a DSL based on Ruby. It can be run on a client server architecture or as a standalone tool.

In this article, I will introduce  Ansible and Chef and what are the benefits of using them. After that I will introduce their pros and cons. Finally, I will present the difference between them.

Let’s start with Ansible vs Chef – What’s the Difference ?

What is a Ansible?

Ansible is a software tool that provides simple and effective automation for cross platform IT support. It’s primarily intended for IT professionals who use it for application deployment, desktop and server upgrades, cloud provisioning, configuration management. In addition it aids service orchestration and everything a system administrator does on a weekly basis. With Ansible it  does not depend on middleware and has no additional security infrastructure, so it is easy to deploy.

Additionally, Ansible allows you to configure not just one computer, but an entire network of computers at the same time and requires no programming skills to use. Instructions written for Ansible are human readable. Whether you’re a computer novice or an expert, Ansible files are easy to understand.

Benefits and Features of using Ansible

Features of using Ansible

1. Security and Compliance

Similar to application deployment, site wide security policies such as firewall rules or user lockouts can be applied in conjunction with other automated processes. If you configure security details on the controller and run the corresponding operations manual, all remote hosts will automatically update these details. This means you don’t have to manually monitor every device for compliance all the time. And for added security, the admin user ID and password cannot be retrieved in plain text in Ansible.

2. Cloud Provisioning

The first step in automating the application lifecycle is to automate infrastructure configuration. With Ansible, you can configure cloud platforms, virtual hosts, network devices, and bare metal servers.

3. Application Deployment

Moreover Ansible allows you to quickly and easily deploy multi tier applications. You don’t need to write custom code to automate your systems. Write the rules of the game to decide what tasks to do and Ansible will figure out how to get your systems into the state you want them to be in.

4. Orchestration

General management and how the configuration interacts.

5. Provisioning

Helps to automate and manage the process.

Benefits of using Ansible

  • Simple.
  • Modular.
  • Credentials Storing & using in a smart manner.
  • Job Scheduling and Notification Support.
  • Working with Teams.
  •  Reducing bugs and errors.
  • Infrastructure as Code.
  • Also the Ansible can be used to perform simple tasks such as ensuring that a service is operating or rebooting from the command line without the need for configuration files.
  • CI/CD Workflow Support.
  • Support of Cluster Environment.

Pros of using Ansible

  • Written in Python.
  • There is Ansible Galaxy.
  • Agentless.
  • YAML-Based Playbooks.
  • Great configuration options.
  • Powerful and flexible.
  • Very simple to use. 
  • Supports versioning.
  • Anyone can learn to use it.
  • Easy and Fast to set up.

Cons of using Ansible

  • No notion of state.
  • Developing Windows Support.
  • A newer offering.
  • Minimal enterprise support experience.
  • UI is lacking.
  • Inadequate User Interface.

What is a Chef?

Chef is a powerful automation platform that turns infrastructure into code. Whether you work in the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid environment, Chef automatically configures, deploys and manages your entire network infrastructure, large or small.

It is an open source cloud configuration that converts system management tasks into reusable definitions, also known as recipes.

Moreover Chef also supports cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services AWS, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, Microsoft Azure, VMware and Rackspace.

Benefits and Features of using Chef

Features of using Chef

1. Accelerating software delivery

When your infrastructure is automated, all software requirements (such as testing, creating new software deployment environments, etc.) are done automatically. It becomes much faster.

2. Cloud Adoption

More to add is that chef is easy to adapt to cloud environments and servers. The infrastructure can be provisioned, installed and managed easily and automatically by Chef.

3. Streamlined IT operation and Workflow

Also Chef provides a pipeline for continuous deployment from build to test and during delivery, monitoring and troubleshooting.

4. Increased service Resiliency

By automating your infrastructure, you can control errors and mistakes before they happen and you can also recover from errors faster.

5. Risk Management

Principally it reduces risk and improves compliance during implementation. Reduces conflicts in development and production environments.

Benefits of using Chef

  • It maintains a blueprint of the entire infrastructure.
  • Easily manages hundreds of server with a handful of employees.
  • It can be easily managed using operating systems such as Linux, Windows, FreeBSD.
  • Centralized management, i.e., a single Chef server can be used as the centre for deploying the policies.
  • It integrates with all major cloud service providers.

Pros of using Chef

  • Dynamic server configuration.
  • Reusable components.
  • Integration testing with Vagrant.
  • Before deployment, all the code errors need to be rectified. Chef makes this easier, and thus increases the system’s resiliency and decreases the downtime.
  • It improves the efficiency of the DevOps team in any company by automating cloud infrastructure and handling manual tasks properly.
  • The tool offers a seamless pipeline for software deployment, which includes building, testing, deploying, monitoring and troubleshooting an application.
  • Shifting to a different cloud environment is easier with Chef. It handles your cloud and data centers, and even if you change cloud providers, you can keep using this tool.

Cons of using Chef

  • It is not very easy to learn if you are not familiar with Ruby.
  • Documentation is still lacking.
  • One of the huge disadvantages of Chef is the way cookbooks are controlled. It needs constant taking care so people who are working with it don’t mess up with others cookbooks.
  • Only Chef solo is available.

Differences between Ansible vs Chef

Scalability Ansible

Scalability Chef

  • Scalable deployment is difficult due to massive Ruby DSL code.

Pricing Ansible

  • Steep pricing here. The starting price of the self support package is $5000/year. The Premium version costs $14000/year for 100 nodes.

Pricing Chef

  • Here the starting price of a standard hosted chef plan is $72 yearly for every node.
  • The automation version cost $137 per node yearly.

Accessibility Ansible

Accessibility Chef

  • Chef clients can only configure the clients and server.

Product capabilities in Ansible

  • Automated workflow for continuous delivery.
  • Streamlined provisioning.
  • Security and compliance management.
  • Simple orchestration app development.

Product capabilities Chef

  • Continuous delivery possible with automation in workflow.
  • Infrastructure automation.
  • Compliance and security management.
  • Automation for DevOps workflow.

Management Ansible

  • Supports both the pull and push config.

Management Chef

  • The support is for pull configuration only.

Interoperability Ansible

  • Server of Ansible supports only Unix/Linux machine but the client machines support windows.

Interoperability Chef

  • The Chef sever only on Linux/Unix. But Chef client and workstation can work on Windows too.

Thank you for reading Ansible vs Chef – What’s the Difference ?

Ansible vs Chef – What’s the Difference ? Conclusion

Determining whether Ansible or Chef is the right tool can be difficult. One good option of Ansible is that it is  a good choice if you’re looking for a simple and easy to use platform with YAML. Beginners and people working on small projects may also prefer Ansible option.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more functionality and a tool that can handle very complex tasks, Chef is the way to go.

Both tools including Chef and Ansible have their own advantages and are better in their own way. But each tool takes a slightly different approach to automation and is suitable for specific user needs in the similar target space.

Thank’s a lot! I hope I helped with Ansible/ Read more content here.

Avatar for Kamil Wisniowski
Kamil Wisniowski

I love technology. I have been working with Cloud and Security technology for 5 years. I love writing about new IT tools.

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