Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools

Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools (Pros and Cons). The integration of software development and IT operations has revolutionized application development. As a practice, DevOps requires having the best tools that provide continuous delivery with high software quality. Having the best DevOps tools breaks down communication barriers and creates collaboration among teams. The right tools also deliver the needed integrations and automation, enabling an open, scalable and seamless software development process.

Both Ansible and Docker enable teams to collaborate and develop enterprise grade applications. They provide consistent and isolated environments for your code review, deployment, testing, and monitoring.

This article discusses the difference between Ansible and Docker. Therefore, you’ll be able to choose the best tool that fits your software development processes.

Let’s start Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools (Pros and Cons).

What is Ansible?

Well Ansible is an easy to use, open source DevOps tool that provides high end orchestration, automation, and configuration of IT infrastructure. First you can say it is like a configuration management system mainly used to automate software configuration and deployment.

In addition Ansible enables you to write automation scripts easily. Certainly Ansible consists of various modules for application management. Also, it scales with demand, allowing you to focus on results. Rather than architecting the underlying infrastructure.

How Ansible Works

There are two types of computers in Ansible:

Firstly the control node is a computer where Ansible is hosted. The managed node is a device controlled or managed by the control node.

So what Ansible does it works by connecting remote nodes, i.e. servers, clients, or the item being configured on a network. Then it sends small programs known as Ansible Modules to the nodes. The push mechanism enables nodes to connect. Altogether Ansible executes the modules over SSH and removes them once finished.

Modules of Ansible are independent scripts inside an Ansible playbook. These modules or scripts perform automation tasks in Ansible. Ideally, they are units of code that can be used from the command line.

Features of Ansible

Here are some of the core features of Ansible:

Python Support

You can easily configure nodes using Ansible Python API. Importantly this feature makes Ansible expandable. You can write plugins, import data from external sources, etc. Python Libraries come pre-installed on most Linux PCs. As a result, you can easily set it up and operate it without much hassle.

Configuration Management

Secondly Ansible provides simple, consistent, and reliable configurations. The configurations are simple data descriptions of the infrastructure. Easily readable by both humans and machines. To manage the systems, all you need is an SSH protocol key or passcode.

Stateless and Agentless

Well the Ansible is agentless. This means you don’t have to install the software on the server to work with Ansible. What Ansible does it manages the connection through SSH or using Python. This lowers maintenance costs and improves performance.

Security Management

Thirdly Ansible helps run a secure and compliant software development process. Altogether it has a secure network authentication mechanism that doesn’t require a password. Instead it connects clients over SSH. As a result this removes the need for a dedicated agent as it pushes modules to the clients. Finally that results in data being sent back to the Ansible server.  The work of SSH is to simplify the setup procedure. What it benefits it saves the client information in inventory files.

Push Architecture

With Ansible, you can modify settings and send them to nodes simultaneously. The server pushes the configurations to the nodes. This way, you can make modifications to thousands of servers in minutes. Interestingly Ansible does not require the installation of agents on nodes.

Pros of Ansible

Some of the perks of using Ansible include:

  • Easy to read Play Books written in simple YAML.
  • Provides step by step reporting, providing information on task success and failure.
  • Eases CI/CD processes, thus reducing human errors.
  • Relatively low learning curve.
  • Written in easy-to-understand Python language.
  • Helps model complex IT processes.
  • Servers have high efficiency as they have a high capacity for application resources.

Cons of Ansible

Here are some disadvantages of Ansible:

  • Lacks a good user interface.
  • Requires complex data structures for network automation tasks.
  • Has limited Windows support.

Now with article Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools it is time to learn more about Docker. 

What is Docker?

Docker is an open source containerization platform. One of the most popular DevOps tools, thanks to its functionality and features. Also a lightweight tool that speeds up workflow in a collaborative environment. Moreover Docker allows development teams to build, package and deploys code using containers rather than virtual machines.

This tool enables users to exchange container images, build applications, and develop programs from components. DevOps teams can leverage Docker to design, ship, and manage container based distributed applications.

Furthermore Docker provides managed application containers. Centrally this allows you to focus on application code without worrying over the provisioning of underlying resources. Besides Docker, you can leverage the numerous open source and SaaS applications designed to run within Docker containers. These tools help reduce the complexity of deploying and managing applications.

Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference -would you like to know how it works?

How Docker Works

For instance Docker allows users to build, deploy and manage application containers on a common OS. Concurrently it works by packaging, running, and provisioning containers through an operating system. In particular Docker containers package the application’s configuration files, dependencies, libraries, and all other essential parts.

Inside the container are Docker images containing all dependencies needed to execute code. A Docker image is a file for executing code inside the container. Contains executable source code and the libraries, dependencies, and tools the application code requires to run as a container. Ideally, a Docker image is similar to a snapshot in virtual machines. Containers are live, running executable files, while Docker Images are read only files.

You can either create a Docker image from scratch or common repositories. Each image is made up of several layers that correspond to the image versions. 

Features of Docker

Mostly Docker is highly popular because of its capabilities that enhance the software development cycle. These features include:

Cross Platform Tool

In fact Docker runs seamlessly in Linux, Windows, and macOS operating systems. Previously, Docker was designed to work on Linux. However, it has extended to support other operating systems such as macOS, and Windows. Also it has versions for cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. The cloud versions deliver seamless migration of resources from on-premise servers

Seamless Integration

Correspondingly it integrates with development pipeline tools such as GitHub, CircleCI, Jira, etc. With Docker, you can package your applications as portable containers and run them on any environment from Azure and AWS ECS to Google GKE and on-premise Kubernetes.

Code Isolation

You can isolate your code into a single container to ease updates and modifications. With isolation, each container becomes independent, allowing you to execute any kind of information you want.

Security Management

There is variety of security features that help prevent containers from compromise. These include cluster segmentation, image scanning, cryptographic node identity, and secure secret distribution.

Docker Swarm

Swarm in Docker  is a clustering and scheduling tool that uses the Docker API. This feature lets you use third party tools to control multiple Docker hosts as a single virtual host.

Developer Tools

With Docker it has a set of developer tools and CLI plugins. These tools deliver you a faster way to create, test, and deploy containerized applications for the cloud. They integrate with the user’s developer environment, streamlining code, build, and test cycles.

Pros of Docker

Straightaway Docker has countless advantages, including:

  • Gives you consistent reliability in the entire development cycle.
  • Allows you to isolate environments for easier debugging
  • Comprehensive container registry with thousands of container images.
  • As well docker containers consume less amounts of RAM than virtual machines.
  • Automation capabilities that enable users to schedule tasks without manual intervention.
  • Fast boot speeds.

Cons of Docker

Here are some cons of Docker:

  • Has gaps in documentation, especially for Mac and Windows.
  • Unfortunately Docker containers do not provide 100% bare-metal performance.
  • No native solutions for persistent data storage.
  • Not enough and not sufficient monitoring unless you use third-party tools.

Now with Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools?

Differences Between Ansible and Docker

So both Ansible and Docker have key differences such as:


Here the Ansible pricing depends on the number of nodes you manage. There are two pricing levels: standard and premium. The standard plan is ideal for enterprise IT operations. On the other hand, the premium plan is suitable for mission critical DevOps. The main difference between the two plans is the level of support. The standard plan provides you with 8×5 support, while the premium plan provides 24×7 support. Besides, Ansible provides a 60-day free trial.

Oppositely the Docker has four pricing plans: personal, pro, team, and business. The personal plan is free, while the pro plan costs $5 per month. The team plan costs you $7 per user per month, while the business plan costs you $21 per user per month. The main difference between these plans is the available features.

Repeatable Tasks

You can repeat Ansible in any container or application. This enables you to track the application’s activity and last time use. Containers in Docker cannot be repeated. Also, you cannot track its usage once you lose track of its location, usage time, and user activity.

Infrastructure Provisioning

In essence Ansible manages the entire environment together with the applications or containers. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about provisioning the underlying environment. Docker, on the other hand, manages the underlying application partially. It manages only the assigned environment. Therefore, users should be careful of the containerized environment.

Programming Language

For example Ansible is written in Python programming language. Basically, you need python knowledge to operate Ansible. Ansible also uses human readable YAML templates to program repetitive tasks that do not require the user to learn advanced programming.

Otherwise Docker is written in the Go programming language. Go language delivers great functionality and enables Docker developers a simple and powerful way of operating with Linux. Go can handle high level tasks with minimal system resources.


Ansible does not have portable images. In case you need images in Ansible, you must download them from other sources. On the other side, Docker has open and portable images. You can use Docker images for the containerization of applications.


Overall Ansible is primarily a configuration tool. It helps configure the application or software inside the container. The software or application can be either inside or outside the container. Ansible provides the server installation, configuration, and deployment.

Whereas, Docker keeps applications inside the container. The main function of Docker is to enable developers to package, ship, and run any application as a lightweight, portable container. It provides the environment to run the application detached from the operating system.

Thank you for reading Ansible vs Docker – What’s the Difference Between DevOps Tools. Let’s conclude.

Ansible vs Docker - What's the Difference Between DevOps Tools Conclusion

Summarizing both Ansible and Docker provide ideal solutions for DevOps. These tools enhance software development in different ways. Ansible provides seamless application configuration, while Docker provides a containerized environment for building and deploying applications. Therefore, you should consider Docker for code shipping and deployment and Ansible for application configuration. You can leverage the unique set of capabilities to automate services throughout your software development cycle.

Read our blog for more Ansible tips and for more Docker content take a look here

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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