DevOps seems to be all the rage in the world of software and app development. As a result, there are now countless tools available to support this new design philosophy. While it’s good to see DevOps getting such support, it does make it a little more challenging to make the right choice.
To help remove some of the guesswork in choosing a development tool, we present to you this comparison of two of the more popular DevOps tools: Ansible and Kubernetes.
What Is Ansible?
The best definition comes, not surprisingly, from the software’s developers: “Ansible is a radically simple IT automation engine that automates cloud provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, intra-service orchestration, and many other IT needs.”
Ansible is an open-source software solution that doesn’t depend on the typical client-server model. Ansible’s designers tout it as the only automation engine that automates everything in the whole application lifecycle as well as the continuous delivery pipeline. Difficult and time-consuming processes get changed into repeatable playbooks, which increases production speed while bringing a much-needed element of simplicity.
Ansible’s name comes from a science fiction story, used to describe an instantaneous hyperspace communications system.
Ansible requires a Linux/Unix host (e.g., Debian, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, macOS, BSD) as its control machine. Also, Ansible uses the Python programming language, versions 2.7 or 3.5. Ansible runs on several cloud platforms, including:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Dimension Data
- Google Cloud Platform
- Microsoft Azure
Ansible’s features include:
SimplicityYou don’t need any unique coding skills to use Ansible’s playbooks. Ansible is easy to set up. Just run the shell script once, and you’re good to go.
PowerAnsible handles highly complex IT workflows.
Zero CostAnsible is a free, open-source software solution.
FlexibilityYou can orchestrate the entire application environment no matter where you want to deploy it. Since it has hundreds of modules available, you can customize Ansible to fit your unique needs.
Easy to Use PlaybooksMost of the playbooks are written in YAML, making them easy to edit and read.
Agentless InstallationYou can set Ansible up in minutes using OpenSSH. You also don’t need to set up agents on remote servers.
EfficiencyAnsible doesn’t require you to install any extra software, so there are more resources to dedicate to your other applications.
What Is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is a container as a service (CaaS) project released by Google. According to a blurb on the developer’s website, “Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation.” The automation aspect improves the development processes of the overall applications.
“Kubernetes” is a Greek word meaning a pilot or helmsman.
Kubernetes uses the Go programming language. Like Ansible, it runs on many different cloud platforms, including:
- IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service
- Baidu Cloud Container Engine.
Kubernetes’ features include:
Container BalancingThe Kubernetes platform calculates the best location for a given container without requiring any user interaction.
FlexibilityBecause Kubernetes is an open-source cloud-based tool, it’s portable and offers multiple environment flexibility, meaning it can run on public cloud systems, on-premises servers, or hybrid clouds.
Zero CostKubernetes is a free, open-source platform.
Process AutomationKubernetes can automatically decide which server will host any given container.
Self-MonitoringKubernetes stays vigilant, maintaining constant checking of the servers’ and containers’ health.
ScalabilityIt provides horizontal scaling, allowing companies and organizations to quickly scale-out storage, fitting their workload needs.
Storage OrchestrationKubernetes integrates with most storage systems; for example, you can combine it with an AWS Elastic File System.
Do These Tools Have Any Drawbacks or Disadvantages?
Of course, they do! No tool is flawless, including Ansible and Kubernetes. Each has its share of obstacles and difficulties.
Ansible’s user interface leaves a lot to be desired. The UI executes only 85 percent of the commands that are usually run on the command line. While 85 percent sounds like a good figure, a decent UI gives you nothing less than 100 percent.
Furthermore, Ansible has no notion of the state; it just runs tasks sequentially until it’s done or encounters an error.
Also, Ansible’s Windows support still has a lot of catching up to do. You still need a Linux control machine to manage Windows hosts.
Finally, since it’s still a relative newcomer to the DevOps scene, Ansible has less experience in delivering support to enterprise-level users and the smallest user/developer community. That latter deficiency makes it tougher for users to perform troubleshooting tasks.
Kubernetes isn’t perfect either. It reportedly has a steep learning curve. Even the most experienced DevOps professionals encounter difficulty trying to figure out the platform’s ins and outs. Kubernetes users should be familiar with the entire cloud-native ecosystem as a whole.
Kubernetes is challenging to install and configure manually since you will need to configure security and multi-host networking; attach storage; and enable monitoring, auditing, and logging.
Also, Kubernetes doesn’t have a default high availability (HA) mode, so you have to configure your HA to create a fault-tolerant cluster manually.
If these disadvantages appear intimidating, then you can always hire some Kubernetes experts to round out your team and handle these challenges. Hiring more personnel, of course, leads to the final disadvantage: spending additional money to recruit some dedicated Kubernetes talent. While this is a good thing for professionals who are looking for work in the DevOps field, it’s a pain for companies that are trying to adhere to a fixed budget.
How Are These Two Tools Alike?
Kubernetes and Ansible don’t have much in common. Both of them are cost-effective since they’re both open-source software. Additionally, they’re both touted as being powerful yet easy to use. Still, there’s little chance of confusing one for the other!
What Is the Major Ansible vs Kubernetes Differences?
The differences between these two products are profound. Ansible is an IT automation tool that deploys software, configures systems, and organizes more complex IT functions such as rolling updates or continuous deployments. On the other hand, Kubernetes is a system designed to orchestrate Docker containers. It manages workloads and uses nodes to handle scheduling to make sure that their condition matches the users’ expectations.
In other words, Ansible deploys changes to hosts, while Kubernetes manages containers and keeps them working properly.
Ansible is an excellent useful tool for front-end developers, particularly in situations where some programming is required. Kubernetes is best suited to developing larger apps.
Based on the properties of both tools, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Granted, they’re both DevOps tools that handle configuration management, but the purposes for which they’re used have minimal overlap.
Just How Popular Are These tools?
Each solution has its share of adherents. AppDirect, Bose, Comcast, eBay, Google, IBM, Nav, Nokia, Philips, Slack, Spotify, Unicom, and many more use Kubernetes.
Ansible’s following, on the other hand, consists of customers like Capital One, Cisco, HootSuite, NASA, NEC, Twitter, and Verizon, among others.
Since both tools tend to operate in different circles, it’s hard to compare their popularity in a head to head matchup. However, Ansible is the most popular configuration tool, commanding a 41 percent rating over similar tools like Chef and Puppet, according to Flexera’s RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report.
Kubernetes, meanwhile, has become the darling of the container management systems, beating out competitors such as Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos, according to an article from Opensource. The main reason for Kubernetes’ popularity has to do more with the size of the community that supports it, according to an article from Container Journal.
Want to Learn More About Ansible and Kubernetes?
Making comparisons between Ansible and Kubernetes without launching into more complex and detailed concepts is a formidable task. Fortunately, Simplilearn offers additional resources to help you learn more about these DevOps tools.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ansible, check out “What is Ansible?” for a more in-depth look at this powerful automation tool.
On the other hand, if you would like to get some Kubernetes training, then consider signing up for Simplilearn’s “Introduction to Kubernetes Using Docker” course. You will gain valuable, in-depth knowledge of how Kubernetes is used to orchestrate distributed applications by learning about components in Kubernetes architecture and deploying and managing a cluster. Also, prepare yourself for Kubernetes interview questions to land at your dream job!
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