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Ansible vs Puppet: Which of the Open-Source Client Servers Is the Best?

Savanna Bruce - June 18, 2022

If you are trying to compare Ansible vs Puppet, you have come to the right place. Figuring out how to learn DevOps is difficult enough without the struggle of determining which software tool to use.

While both of these open-source client servers are fantastic tools to have mastered for DevOps interviews , it can be difficult to determine which software is best for you. Taking the time to compare the CM tools and which programming languages and operating systems can be used with the software will help you to determine which is best for you.

Luckily, here at Career Karma, we have already done the research for you. In this informative guide, you will learn everything you need to know to make your decision. From learning about what Ansible and Puppet are to their pros and cons, and their similarities and differences, we have all the information you need to decide between the two.

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What Is Ansible?

Ansible is an extremely simple to use software tool for configuration management. Ansible is an open-source tool used for configuration management, software provisioning, and application deployment. This software is primarily used by those in information technology careers , but can also be used by DevOps engineers and other professionals in need of a configuration management tool.

The creators of Ansible decided to make a software tool that can perform a wide variety of automation tasks in a simple and easy-to-use format. Ansible is designed to not only automate apps, but to also speed up work, make it easy to collaborate, and simplify the integration of technologies.

Alongside the original Ansible software, there is also Ansible Tower, which is a web-based extension created to make Ansible even easier for IT teams to use, and Ansible Galaxy, a website extension of Ansible made for community usage.

What Is Puppet?

Puppet is another open-source configuration management tool. By using the Puppet DSL, IT professionals and system administrators can perform industry-standard IT automations. Puppet is meant to be a simple software tool that can handle more complex tasks and infrastructures. While this software is most commonly used for Linux and Windows, it can be used with almost any operating system.

There is an extension of Puppet called Puppet Agent, which is an app that was created to manage configurations on the nodes being used. This application must be used with the Puppet primary server and is primarily used to fetch configuration catalogs for Puppet users.

Ansible vs Puppet: The Most Important Differences and Similarities

There are a few key differences and similarities between Ansible and Puppet. Both are fantastic software tools to use for configuration management, but it is important to take into account the major differences and similarities between the two when trying to decide which is best to use.

Difference: Cost

One of the biggest and most important differences to consider when choosing between Ansible vs Puppet is the cost. There is a free version of Ansible, and the enterprise version of Ansible offers three different tiers of pricing.

The first and most basic, self-support, will cost $5,000 per year for up to 100 nodes. The second tier, known as standard or 8×5 support, costs $10,000 per year for up to 100 nodes. The third tier is considered premium and offers 24×7 support and up to 100 nodes for $14,000 per year or $17,500 per year for those interested in Ansible Engine.

On the other hand, Puppet Enterprise offers an option for users to test it with up to 10 nodes for free. After that, you can pay for a standard plan which runs around $100 per node per year, or a premium plan which runs around $199 per node per year. If you only have use for a couple of nodes, Puppet is more cost-effective than Ansible, but when you are needing closer to 100 nodes, Ansible is the better option cost-wise.

Difference: Management and Scheduling

When using Ansible, the server is used to push configurations to the nodes for instant deployment. For management, Ansible uses YAML, which is closer to English than many programming languages , making for easier coding and management within the software. Scheduling is a bit trickier in Ansible, as you have to have the enterprise version to set up regular checks of nodes.

In Puppet, scheduling is a bit easier to navigate. The default setting is for Puppet to run automatic checks every half hour to ensure all nodes are in the desired state. Management can be a bit more difficult for users though, as all configurations have to be written in Puppet DSL rather than a simpler language.

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Difference: Modules

Ansible’s modules are available in Ansible Galaxy. This is essentially a library of all of the available modules that can be used. Unfortunately, there is no system in place to determine which modules have been proven to work or not to work, so there is a lot of trial and error taking place.

In Puppet, you can access the Puppet Forge library of over 6,000 modules. Unlike Ansible, Puppet Forge uses a system in which you can easily see which modules have been proven to work and which have been proven not to work. This helps users to determine which modules have been approved by Puppet, making it easier to decide which to use.

Similarity: Availability

Both Ansible and Puppet have backups in place in case the main node or master fails. Ansible has a backup node to go into effect in case of main failure, while Puppet uses a system of multiple masters for the same scenario.

Similarity: Scaling

While scaling is considered to be slightly easier in Ansible, both Ansible and Puppet are easily scalable. Both software tools can easily handle large infrastructures and big increases to nodes.

Similarity: Ease of Use

While there are a few minor differences in the overall setup and ease of use, both Ansible and Puppet are relatively easy to get set up and easy to use. Ansible is considered to be simpler to use, but in terms of use by the intended users, Puppet runs easily and smoothly as well.

Ansible vs Puppet: Pros and Cons

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Choosing between Ansible vs Puppet can be difficult without knowing the pros and cons.

As is the case with everything, there are pros and cons to both Ansible and Puppet. Depending on who you are and what you intend to use one of the software tools for, the pros may outweigh the cons or vice versa. Either way, you’ll want all the facts before you make a decision.

Ansible Pros

  • Easier Installation and Set-Up. Ansible is much easier to initially install and set-up when compared to Puppet. Since this software tool is simpler to use in general, it is easier for non-programmers to get up and running.
  • Lower Cost. While there are more expensive versions of Ansible, the basic, standard version is much cheaper than Puppet. For Puppet to use 100 nodes, it would cost $10,000 per year in the basic version, which is twice as much as Ansible.
  • Easier Scalability. While both tools are easily scalable, it is the consensus that Ansible is a bit easier to scale in. Ansible can handle larger infrastructures and node fluctuations with more ease than Puppet.

Ansible Cons

  • Cannot Handle Complex Tasks. Though Ansible is endlessly praised for its simplicity, it is ultimately unable to handle more complex tasks and functions. The simple tool is awesome for ease of use, but not so great for higher-level tasks.
  • Smaller Support Community. Since Ansible is a newer and younger software tool, it only makes sense for it to have a smaller following. This makes it difficult to find community support for issues, as there is a smaller community to provide help.
  • Poor GUI. Ansible’s graphical user interface (GUI) is underdeveloped, causing it to ultimately be of poorer quality than other configuration management tools. The GUI for Ansible often ends up completely out of sync with the command line, making it difficult to use.

Puppet Pros

  • Easy to Fix Syntax Errors. One of Puppet’s best features is how easy it is to fix syntax errors using Puppet DSL. When these errors appear, they are quickly highlighted and easily corrected, rather than waiting until the damage is done to go back and find errors. This is much easier than debugging Ansible .
  • More Efficient Management and Scheduling. Though Puppet has a more complex user interface, the management and scheduling systems are much simpler and more efficient. Using fantastic default settings, Puppet takes care of most of the management and scheduling work for you.
  • Well-Established Support Community. Puppet has been around for a long time, which means there is a large following of support for the tool. This has created a well-established support community for easily finding answers.

Puppet Cons

  • Difficult to Use. Puppet is notoriously difficult and complex to use, even for experienced programmers. You have to have a background in programming and the ability to learn Puppet DSL with ease.
  • Higher Cost. Puppet only has two versions, and both are higher cost than the standard version of Ansible. This primarily impacts those who are on a budget.
  • Difficult to Set Up. Though Puppet’s ability to process more complex functions and tasks, this does make it more difficult to initially set-up. Puppet was designed for system administrators, so common users were not considered when designing the setup.

Should You Use Ansible or Puppet?

Open silver and black laptop sitting on white desk, displaying code on screen
Take your time when debating between Ansible vs Puppet to ensure you make the right choice.

For anyone who has been debating between Ansible vs Puppet for a while, the list of differences and similarities combined with our list of pros and cons for both software tools should definitely help you decide. However, we do have a few final notes about the advantages of choosing each software tool to help finalize your decision.

Advantages of Choosing Ansible

The primary advantages of choosing Ansible over Puppet are that it is simpler to use, you will have an easier time with the installation and set-up process, it is lower cost, and has easier scalability. For smaller configuration management jobs, Ansible is often the better option.

Advantages of Choosing Puppet

Puppet can handle more complex tasks, is easier to correct errors in, has a well-established support community, and can more efficiently manage and schedule. This software tool is best when being used by administration professionals and those with a strong programming background.

Be sure to review the above differences and similarities of Ansible vs Puppet, and their pros and cons, again before making your final decision.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Savanna Bruce

About the author: As a writer at Career Karma, Savanna covers a wide array of topics in education, careers, and technology. Before joining the Career Karma team in June 2020, Savanna found success as a freelance writer and bookseller. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, she graduated with a bachelor's of Multidisciplinary Studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Savanna is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing to further enhance her career. Specifically, she aims to use her degree to start nonprofit animal welfare organizations in developing countries.

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