Ansible vs Chef vs Jenkins

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

Ansible

18.9K
15.3K
+ 1
1.3K
Chef

1.3K
1.1K
+ 1
345
Jenkins

57.7K
49.3K
+ 1
2.2K

Ansible vs Chef vs Jenkins: What are the differences?

Introduction

This markdown provides a comparison between Ansible, Chef, and Jenkins, outlining the key differences among these three automation tools.

  1. Scalability: Ansible is known for its ability to scale efficiently. It requires minimal setup and can manage a large number of hosts without any complex infrastructure. On the other hand, Chef is also scalable but requires a separate server for operations, such as storing cookbooks and recipes. Jenkins, being a continuous integration and delivery tool, focuses more on scalability for deploying and building applications.

  2. Configuration Management: Ansible uses a declarative language approach which allows users to define the desired state of the system, and Ansible takes care of the configuration accordingly. In contrast, Chef is based on a procedural approach that focuses on defining step-by-step instructions for system configuration. Jenkins, being primarily a CI/CD tool, focuses more on building and deploying applications rather than system configuration.

  3. Learning Curve: Ansible has a relatively easy learning curve. With its YAML-based syntax, Ansible is user-friendly and can be quickly picked up by newcomers. Chef, on the other hand, has a steeper learning curve due to its complex DSL and requires a deeper understanding of concepts such as cookbooks and recipes. Jenkins, being a CI/CD tool, requires knowledge of configuration files and pipelines, making it more complex compared to Ansible.

  4. Architecture: Ansible operates on an agentless architecture, meaning it does not require any agents to be installed on remote systems. This simplifies setup and reduces the overhead on target hosts. Chef, on the other hand, follows a client-server architecture and requires agents (known as Chef clients) to be installed on target systems. Jenkins also operates on a client-server architecture and requires Jenkins agents to be installed on remote machines for distributed builds.

  5. Community and Ecosystem: Ansible has a large and active community, with a vast collection of pre-built modules and playbooks readily available for various use cases. Chef also has an active community, but its ecosystem may be relatively smaller compared to Ansible. Jenkins, being an open-source tool, has a robust community with a wide range of plugins available to extend its functionality.

  6. Integration with other Tools: Ansible has native integration with various tools, including containerization platforms like Docker and orchestration systems like Kubernetes. It also integrates well with configuration management tools like Git for version control. Chef also integrates with these tools, but its integration may not be as extensive as Ansible's. Jenkins, being a versatile CI/CD tool, offers integrations with a wide range of third-party tools, including version control systems, build tools, and deployment platforms.

In summary, Ansible excels in scalability and ease of use, using a declarative approach for configuration management. Chef offers more flexibility with a procedural approach and deeper customization options. Jenkins is primarily focused on continuous integration and delivery, with extensive integration capabilities. The choice between these tools depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the user.

Advice on Ansible, Chef, and Jenkins
Needs advice
on
Azure PipelinesAzure Pipelines
and
JenkinsJenkins

We are currently using Azure Pipelines for continous integration. Our applications are developed witn .NET framework. But when we look at the online Jenkins is the most widely used tool for continous integration. Can you please give me the advice which one is best to use for my case Azure pipeline or jenkins.

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Replies (1)
Recommends
on
GitHubGitHub

If your source code is on GitHub, also take a look at Github actions. https://github.com/features/actions

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Mohammad Hossein Amri
Chief Technology Officer at Planally · | 3 upvotes · 503.7K views
Needs advice
on
GoCDGoCD
and
JenkinsJenkins

I'm open to anything. just want something that break less and doesn't need me to pay for it, and can be hosted on Docker. our scripting language is powershell core. so it's better to support it. also we are building dotnet core in our pipeline, so if they have anything related that helps with the CI would be nice.

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Replies (1)
Ankit Malik
Software Developer at CloudCover · | 1 upvotes · 486.5K views
Recommends
on
Google Cloud BuildGoogle Cloud Build

Google cloud build can help you. It is hosted on cloud and also provide reasonable free quota.

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Needs advice
on
ConcourseConcourse
and
JenkinsJenkins

I'm planning to setup complete CD-CD setup for spark and python application which we are going to deploy in aws lambda and EMR Cluster. Which tool would be best one to choose. Since my company is trying to adopt to concourse i would like to understand what are the lack of capabilities concourse have . Thanks in advance !

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Replies (1)
Maxi Krone
Cloud Engineer at fme AG · | 2 upvotes · 405.4K views
Recommends
on
ConcourseConcourse

I would definetly recommend Concourse to you, as it is one of the most advanced modern methods of making CI/CD while Jenkins is an old monolithic dinosaur. Concourse itself is cloudnative and containerbased which helps you to build simple, high-performance and scalable CI/CD pipelines. In my opinion, the only lack of skills you have with Concourse is your own knowledge of how to build pipelines and automate things. Technincally there is no lack, i would even say you can extend it way more easily. But as a Con it is more easy to interact with Jenkins if you are only used to UIs. Concourse needs someone which is capable of using CLIs.

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Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
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)
Recommends
on
AnsibleAnsible

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
Recommends
on
KubernetesKubernetes
at

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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Needs advice
on
JenkinsJenkinsTravis CITravis CI
and
CircleCICircleCI

From a StackShare Community member: "Currently we use Travis CI and have optimized it as much as we can so our builds are fairly quick. Our boss is all about redundancy so we are looking for another solution to fall back on in case Travis goes down and/or jacks prices way up (they were recently acquired). Could someone recommend which CI we should go with and if they have time, an explanation of how they're different?"

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Replies (6)
Dustin Falgout
Senior Developer at Elegant Themes · | 13 upvotes · 558K views

We use CircleCI because of the better value it provides in its plans. I'm sure we could have used Travis just as easily but we found CircleCI's pricing to be more reasonable. In the two years since we signed up, the service has improved. CircleCI is always innovating and iterating on their platform. We have been very satisfied.

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Peter Thomas
Distinguished Engineer at Intuit · | 9 upvotes · 868.9K views
Recommends
on
Travis CITravis CI
at

As the maintainer of the Karate DSL open-source project - I found Travis CI very easy to integrate into the GitHub workflow and it has been steady sailing for more than 2 years now ! It works well for Java / Apache Maven projects and we were able to configure it to use the latest Oracle JDK as per our needs. Thanks to the Travis CI team for this service to the open-source community !

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Recommends
on
Google Cloud BuildGoogle Cloud Build

I use Google Cloud Build because it's my first foray into the CICD world(loving it so far), and I wanted to work with something GCP native to avoid giving permissions to other SaaS tools like CircleCI and Travis CI.

I really like it because it's free for the first 120 minutes, and it's one of the few CICD tools that enterprises are open to using since it's contained within GCP.

One of the unique things is that it has the Kaniko cache, which speeds up builds by creating intermediate layers within the docker image vs. pushing the full thing from the start. Helpful when you're installing just a few additional dependencies.

Feel free to checkout an example: Cloudbuild Example

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Recommends
on
Travis CITravis CI

I use Travis CI because of various reasons - 1. Cloud based system so no dedicated server required, and you do not need to administrate it. 2. Easy YAML configuration. 3. Supports Major Programming Languages. 4. Support of build matrix 6. Supports AWS, Azure, Docker, Heroku, Google Cloud, Github Pages, PyPi and lot more. 7. Slack Notifications.

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Oded Arbel
Recommends
on
GitLab CIGitLab CI

You are probably looking at another hosted solution: Jenkins is a good tool but it way too work intensive to be used as just a backup solution.

I have good experience with Circle-CI, Codeship, Drone.io and Travis (as well as problematic experiences with all of them), but my go-to tool is Gitlab CI: simple, powerful and if you have problems with their limitations or pricing, you can always install runners somewhere and use Gitlab just for scheduling and management. Even if you don't host your git repository at Gitlab, you can have Gitlab pull changes automatically from wherever you repo lives.

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Recommends
on
BuildkiteBuildkite

If you are considering Jenkins I would recommend at least checking out Buildkite. The agents are self-hosted (like Jenkins) but the interface is hosted for you. It meshes up some of the things I like about hosted services (pipeline definitions in YAML, managed interface and authentication) with things I like about Jenkins (local customizable agent images, secrets only on own instances, custom agent level scripts, sizing instances to your needs).

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Decisions about Ansible, Chef, and Jenkins

Jenkins is a pretty flexible, complete tool. Especially I love the possibility to configure jobs as a code with Jenkins pipelines.

CircleCI is well suited for small projects where the main task is to run continuous integration as quickly as possible. Travis CI is recommended primarily for open-source projects that need to be tested in different environments.

And for something a bit larger I prefer to use Jenkins because it is possible to make serious system configuration thereby different plugins. In Jenkins, I can change almost anything. But if you want to start the CI chain as soon as possible, Jenkins may not be the right choice.

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Pros of Ansible
Pros of Chef
Pros of Jenkins
  • 284
    Agentless
  • 210
    Great configuration
  • 199
    Simple
  • 176
    Powerful
  • 155
    Easy to learn
  • 69
    Flexible
  • 55
    Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done
  • 35
    Makes sense
  • 30
    Super efficient and flexible
  • 27
    Powerful
  • 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
    Simple
  • 4
    Because SSH
  • 4
    Procedural or declarative, or both
  • 4
    Easy
  • 3
    Consistency
  • 2
    Well-documented
  • 2
    Masterless
  • 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
  • 110
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 76
    Reusable components
  • 47
    Integration testing with Vagrant
  • 43
    Repeatable
  • 30
    Mock testing with Chefspec
  • 14
    Ruby
  • 8
    Can package cookbooks to guarantee repeatability
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 3
    Has marketplace where you get readymade cookbooks
  • 3
    Matured product with good community support
  • 2
    Less declarative more procedural
  • 2
    Open source configuration mgmt made easy(ish)
  • 523
    Hosted internally
  • 469
    Free open source
  • 318
    Great to build, deploy or launch anything async
  • 243
    Tons of integrations
  • 211
    Rich set of plugins with good documentation
  • 111
    Has support for build pipelines
  • 68
    Easy setup
  • 66
    It is open-source
  • 53
    Workflow plugin
  • 13
    Configuration as code
  • 12
    Very powerful tool
  • 11
    Many Plugins
  • 10
    Continuous Integration
  • 10
    Great flexibility
  • 9
    Git and Maven integration is better
  • 8
    100% free and open source
  • 7
    Slack Integration (plugin)
  • 7
    Github integration
  • 6
    Self-hosted GitLab Integration (plugin)
  • 6
    Easy customisation
  • 5
    Pipeline API
  • 5
    Docker support
  • 4
    Fast builds
  • 4
    Hosted Externally
  • 4
    Excellent docker integration
  • 4
    Platform idnependency
  • 3
    AWS Integration
  • 3
    JOBDSL
  • 3
    It's Everywhere
  • 3
    Customizable
  • 3
    Can be run as a Docker container
  • 3
    It`w worked
  • 2
    Loose Coupling
  • 2
    NodeJS Support
  • 2
    Build PR Branch Only
  • 2
    Easily extendable with seamless integration
  • 2
    PHP Support
  • 2
    Ruby/Rails Support
  • 2
    Universal controller

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of Chef
Cons of Jenkins
  • 8
    Dangerous
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
    Bloated
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 13
      Workarounds needed for basic requirements
    • 10
      Groovy with cumbersome syntax
    • 8
      Plugins compatibility issues
    • 7
      Lack of support
    • 7
      Limited abilities with declarative pipelines
    • 5
      No YAML syntax
    • 4
      Too tied to plugins versions

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    - No public GitHub repository available -

    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 Chef?

    Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

    What is Jenkins?

    In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    What companies use Ansible?
    What companies use Chef?
    What companies use Jenkins?

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    What tools integrate with Ansible?
    What tools integrate with Chef?
    What tools integrate with Jenkins?

    Sign up to get full access to all the tool integrationsMake informed product decisions

    Blog Posts

    Mar 24 2021 at 12:57PM

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    What are some alternatives to Ansible, Chef, and Jenkins?
    Puppet Labs
    Puppet is an automated administrative engine for your Linux, Unix, and Windows systems and performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.
    Salt
    Salt is a new approach to infrastructure management. Easy enough to get running in minutes, scalable enough to manage tens of thousands of servers, and fast enough to communicate with them in seconds. Salt delivers a dynamic communication bus for infrastructures that can be used for orchestration, remote execution, configuration management and much more.
    Terraform
    With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
    AWS CloudFormation
    You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work.
    Docker
    The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
    See all alternatives