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AWX vs Ansible: What are the differences?

AWX is a web-based interface and API for Ansible, offering centralized management and job scheduling, while Ansible is the automation engine itself. Let's explore the key differences between them.

  1. Deployment and Setup: The first major difference between AWX and Ansible is the way they are deployed and set up. Ansible is typically installed and configured directly on individual servers or workstations, while AWX is deployed as a web application and requires a separate server for installation. AWX provides a web-based interface for managing Ansible, making it more suitable for larger organizations or teams requiring centralized control.

  2. User Interface: Another significant difference is the user interface. Ansible is primarily command-line based, requiring users to write and execute playbooks using the Ansible syntax. AWX, on the other hand, provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows users to create and manage their infrastructure as code using a web-based interface. This makes AWX more accessible for users who prefer a visual approach or have limited knowledge of the command line.

  3. Workflow and Automation: AWX offers enhanced workflow and automation capabilities compared to Ansible. While Ansible provides powerful automation features, AWX allows users to define complex workflows and job templates, enabling them to create multi-step processes, schedule jobs, and track their progress. AWX also provides features like workflow approval, notifications, and user access controls, making it more suitable for larger and more complex automation tasks.

  4. Multi-Tenancy and RBAC: AWX provides robust multi-tenancy and role-based access control (RBAC) features, which are not available in Ansible. With AWX, organizations can create multiple projects or teams, each with its own set of credentials, inventories, and permissions. This allows for better segregation of duties, improved security, and easier collaboration between different teams or departments. Ansible, on the other hand, does not offer native RBAC functionality and relies on the underlying server's access control mechanisms.

  5. Documentation and Support: Ansible, being the original product, has a larger and more mature community, extensive documentation, and a broader range of community-contributed modules and playbooks. AWX, being a relatively new project, has a smaller user base and may have fewer resources available for troubleshooting or support. While Ansible has active development and maintenance, AWX may lag behind in terms of updates and new features. Organizations should consider their requirements and the level of available community support when choosing between AWX and Ansible.

  6. Enterprise Features: Finally, AWX offers additional enterprise-level features that are not available in Ansible. These include features like high availability, scale-out deployments, real-time analytics, and integration with other enterprise tools and services. AWX is designed to be a scalable, enterprise-ready solution, making it suitable for large-scale deployments and organizations with complex infrastructure requirements. Ansible lacks these enterprise-level features and focuses more on providing a lightweight and flexible automation framework.

In summary, AWX is an open-source web-based user interface and REST API for Ansible, providing centralized management, role-based access control, and job scheduling capabilities, whereas Ansible is the underlying automation engine that allows users to automate IT infrastructure tasks and configuration management. While AWX offers additional features for managing Ansible playbooks and workflows through a graphical interface, Ansible provides the core functionality for automating infrastructure and configuration tasks through code.

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Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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Pros of Ansible
Pros of AWX
  • 284
  • 210
    Great configuration
  • 199
  • 176
  • 155
    Easy to learn
  • 69
  • 55
    Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done
  • 35
    Makes sense
  • 30
    Super efficient and flexible
  • 27
  • 11
    Dynamic Inventory
  • 9
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 6
    Cloud Oriented
  • 6
    Easy to maintain
  • 4
    Vagrant provisioner
  • 4
    Simple and powerful
  • 4
    Multi language
  • 4
  • 4
    Because SSH
  • 4
    Procedural or declarative, or both
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
    Debugging is simple
  • 2
    Merge hash to get final configuration similar to hiera
  • 2
    Fast as hell
  • 1
    Manage any OS
  • 1
    Work on windows, but difficult to manage
  • 1
    Certified Content
  • 1
    Open source

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of AWX
  • 8
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
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    What is Ansible?

    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 AWX?

    AWX provides a web-based user interface, REST API, and task engine built on top of Ansible. It is the upstream project for Tower, a commercial derivative of AWX. Ansible Towers powers enterprise automation by adding control, security and delegation capabilities to Ansible environments.

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    What companies use Ansible?
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    What tools integrate with Ansible?
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