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Ansible vs Docker: 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 Docker? Enterprise Container Platform for High-Velocity Innovation. 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.

Ansible and Docker are primarily classified as "Server Configuration and Automation" and "Virtual Machine Platforms & Containers" 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, Docker provides the following key features:

  • Integrated developer tools
  • open, portable images
  • shareable, reusable apps

"Agentless", "Great configuration " and "Simple" are the key factors why developers consider Ansible; whereas "Rapid integration and build up", "Isolation" and "Open source" are the primary reasons why Docker is favored.

Ansible and Docker are both open source tools. It seems that Docker with 53.8K GitHub stars and 15.5K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Ansible with 37.8K GitHub stars and 15.8K GitHub forks.

Lyft, StackShare, and Shopify are some of the popular companies that use Docker, whereas Ansible is used by PedidosYa, Keen, and New Relic. Docker has a broader approval, being mentioned in 3471 company stacks & 3322 developers stacks; compared to Ansible, which is listed in 955 company stacks and 578 developer stacks.

Advice on Ansible and Docker
Eddy Kapelczak [PHARMDs]
Pharmacist | CEO | Student at Prescripz TeleHealth · | 9 upvotes · 14.5K views
Needs advice

I am looking for an easy to use platform or VPS hosting service that will allow me to deploy additional VPS at will and quickly install the OS as well.

I am also looking for a backend software that allows team messaging (chat service, video, and audio) that can be self-hosted and is free. Also, an easy to use webRTC library would be great too!

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Replies (6)

I would recommend DigitalOcean for quick VPS creation. But it worth to consider Kubernetes or at least Docker. Once I did a project with DigitalOcean. They were guarantee kind of 90 seconds for creation of new VPS from a predefined template. But if you will decide to use Kubernetes (you can use DigitalOcean for that too, or other clouds, like Google, Azure, Amazon) - the deployment would be even much quicker than 90 seconds.

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Anibal Ardid

Do you referred about hosting or about tool/software to use in it ? About soft managing vps/dedicated server ... I tried manual lamp installation, cyperpanel, cpanel, plesk, webmin, etc.

Now, in my opinion, plesk offers the best solution.

I installed on Arsys web hosting (cloud vps) as free, and I pay official plesk support ($10/month). I could create domains, different accounts, etc.

I do that via cli (command line , bash commands), but you could do via web .

If you have any doubt askme ;)

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Amazon EC2Amazon EC2

Use Amazon EC2 for your infrastructure (including the OS, Networking, Storage, Compute, etc.). Create an AWS account for free here.

Use Ansible to configure your Operating Systems, deploy software, and manage the configurations on your servers in AWS. Puppet and Chef are other options too, but those require an agent run on your servers. Ansible just requires an SSH connection to your servers and you push out playbook runs across your servers whenever you need. It's idempotent so it only pushes changes that it determines are new to the remote systems.

I think Slack has a free version you can use if you want. That's what I've always used for Business chat.

Use Docker for you applications. You never have to manage dependencies on your servers when you deploy your applications using docker containers. You might have to manage things like versions of python and other OS centric software libraries, but nothing that would be a specific dependency for your applications. Everything is built into the container.

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Sharath Vutpala
Site Reliability Engineer at Axelerant · | 3 upvotes · 7.7K views

I would suggest using Terraform to maintain your infrastructure as code. You can easily manage the underlying Virtual machines with the help of Terraform. I would also suggest to leverage the benefits of cloud computing by using something like AWS EC2 for as your VPS. I will also suggest RocketChat for your team communication. You can simply set this up using Docker. I am attaching the link on how to set-up Rocketchat with the help of Docker.

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Juan Ignacio Borda
Technical Leader at Flux IT · | 1 upvotes · 6.3K views

you can achive all that using AWS EC2 instances (virtual machines) For chat and messaging We use mattermost (which you can install even with docker AWS fargate)

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I would recommend rocketchat for team messaging, video, files sharing etc.... It's awesome and self hosted.

We've been using it for 5 years and no worries

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Needs advice
Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef

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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Decisions about Ansible and Docker
Florian Sager
IT DevOp at Agitos GmbH · | 2 upvotes · 269.2K views

lxd/lxc and Docker aren't congruent so this comparison needs a more detailed look; but in short I can say: the lxd-integrated administration of storage including zfs with its snapshot capabilities as well as the system container (multi-process) approach of lxc vs. the limited single-process container approach of Docker is the main reason I chose lxd over Docker.

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Pros of Ansible
Pros of Docker
  • 278
  • 206
    Great configuration
  • 195
  • 173
  • 151
    Easy to learn
  • 66
  • 54
    Doesn't get in the way of getting s--- done
  • 34
    Makes sense
  • 29
    Super efficient and flexible
  • 27
  • 11
    Dynamic Inventory
  • 8
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 6
    Cloud Oriented
  • 6
    Easy to maintain
  • 4
    Because SSH
  • 4
    Multi language
  • 4
  • 4
  • 4
    Procedural or declarative, or both
  • 4
    Simple and powerful
  • 3
  • 3
    Vagrant provisioner
  • 2
    Fast as hell
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
    Merge hash to get final configuration similar to hiera
  • 2
    Debugging is simple
  • 1
    Work on windows, but difficult to manage
  • 1
    Certified Content
  • 823
    Rapid integration and build up
  • 688
  • 519
    Open source
  • 505
    Testa­bil­i­ty and re­pro­ducibil­i­ty
  • 459
  • 217
  • 184
  • 105
    Upgrading / down­grad­ing / ap­pli­ca­tion versions
  • 87
  • 84
    Private paas environments
  • 33
  • 25
    Limit resource usage
  • 16
    Game changer
  • 15
    I love the way docker has changed virtualization
  • 13
  • 11
  • 7
    Docker's Compose tools
  • 5
    Easy setup
  • 5
    Fast and Portable
  • 4
    Because its fun
  • 3
    Makes shipping to production very simple
  • 2
    It's dope
  • 2
    Highly useful
  • 1
    Very easy to setup integrate and build
  • 1
    Package the environment with the application
  • 1
    Does a nice job hogging memory
  • 1
    Open source and highly configurable
  • 1
    Simplicity, isolation, resource effective
  • 1
    MacOS support FAKE
  • 1
    Its cool
  • 1
    Docker hub for the FTW
  • 1
    HIgh Throughput

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of Docker
  • 8
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
  • 3
    Backward compatibility
  • 2
    No immutable infrastructure
  • 8
    New versions == broken features
  • 6
    Unreliable networking
  • 6
    Documentation not always in sync
  • 4
    Moves quickly
  • 3
    Not Secure

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

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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 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

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

What companies use Ansible?
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Blog Posts

Jul 9 2019 at 7:22PM

Blue Medora

DockerPostgreSQLNew Relic+8
DockerAmazon EC2Scala+8
What are some alternatives to Ansible and Docker?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See all alternatives