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Ansible vs Apache Ant: What are the differences?

What is Ansible? 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’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.

What is Apache Ant? Java based build tool. Ant is a Java-based build tool. In theory, it is kind of like Make, without Make's wrinkles and with the full portability of pure Java code.

Ansible and Apache Ant are primarily classified as "Server Configuration and Automation" and "Java Build" tools respectively.

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, Apache Ant provides the following key features:

  • The most complete Java build and deployment tool available.
  • Platform neutral and can handle platform specific properties such as file separators
  • Can be used to perform platform specific tasks such as modifying the modified time of a file using 'touch' command

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

Ansible and Apache Ant are both open source tools. Ansible with 38.2K GitHub stars and 16K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Apache Ant with 247 GitHub stars and 254 GitHub forks.

DigitalOcean, 9GAG, and Rainist are some of the popular companies that use Ansible, whereas Apache Ant is used by LinkedIn, Webedia, and Atmel. Ansible has a broader approval, being mentioned in 960 company stacks & 587 developers stacks; compared to Apache Ant, which is listed in 24 company stacks and 12 developer stacks.

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