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Ansible vs Pulumi: What are the differences?

Introduction

Ansible and Pulumi are both automation tools used in software development and infrastructure management. However, they have key differences that set them apart from each other.

  1. Execution Model: Ansible operates on a push-based execution model, where the control machine pushes the configurations and instructions to target machines. On the other hand, Pulumi uses a pull-based execution model, where the infrastructure resources are continuously monitored for changes and updates are automatically applied to ensure the desired state.

  2. Language Support: Ansible is primarily based on YAML, which provides a simple and human-readable syntax for defining tasks and configurations. In contrast, Pulumi supports multiple programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, and Go, allowing developers to express infrastructure as code using their preferred language.

  3. Cloud Provider Integration: Ansible has support for a wide range of cloud providers, enabling developers to manage and provision resources across different cloud environments. Whereas Pulumi takes a multi-cloud approach and allows developers to define infrastructure resources using a unified API that transparently supports multiple cloud providers, making it easier to deploy and manage applications across diverse cloud environments.

  4. Resource Lifecycle Management: Ansible utilizes idempotent tasks to ensure that the desired state is achieved on target machines. It focuses on executing tasks only when required and performs automatic cleanup of any unwanted changes. Pulumi, on the other hand, provides a declarative approach to resource lifecycle management, where developers define desired resources and dependencies, and Pulumi automatically manages the creation, updating, and deletion of those resources.

  5. Workflow and Versioning: Ansible employs playbooks to define and orchestrate complex deployment workflows. Playbooks can be versioned using source control tools like Git, allowing developers to track changes and roll back if necessary. Pulumi leverages modern development workflows through standard development tools like IDEs, Git, and CI/CD systems. By treating infrastructure as code, developers can leverage software development best practices, including testing frameworks, code reviews, and continuous integration.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: Ansible has a large and active community with a vast collection of pre-built Ansible roles and modules available for various use cases and integrations with other tools. Pulumi, being a newer entrant, is rapidly growing its community and ecosystem, with a focus on collaborating with existing tools and frameworks to provide seamless integration and support.

In Summary, Ansible and Pulumi differ in their execution models, language support, cloud provider integration, resource lifecycle management, workflow and versioning capabilities, and community and ecosystem size.

Advice on Ansible and Pulumi
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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Decisions about Ansible and Pulumi

Because Pulumi uses real programming languages, you can actually write abstractions for your infrastructure code, which is incredibly empowering. You still 'describe' your desired state, but by having a programming language at your fingers, you can factor out patterns, and package it up for easier consumption.

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Sergey Ivanov
Overview

We use Terraform to manage AWS cloud environment for the project. It is pretty complex, largely static, security-focused, and constantly evolving.

Terraform provides descriptive (declarative) way of defining the target configuration, where it can work out the dependencies between configuration elements and apply differences without re-provisioning the entire cloud stack.

Advantages

Terraform is vendor-neutral in a way that it is using a common configuration language (HCL) with plugins (providers) for multiple cloud and service providers.

Terraform keeps track of the previous state of the deployment and applies incremental changes, resulting in faster deployment times.

Terraform allows us to share reusable modules between projects. We have built an impressive library of modules internally, which makes it very easy to assemble a new project from pre-fabricated building blocks.

Disadvantages

Software is imperfect, and Terraform is no exception. Occasionally we hit annoying bugs that we have to work around. The interaction with any underlying APIs is encapsulated inside 3rd party Terraform providers, and any bug fixes or new features require a provider release. Some providers have very poor coverage of the underlying APIs.

Terraform is not great for managing highly dynamic parts of cloud environments. That part is better delegated to other tools or scripts.

Terraform state may go out of sync with the target environment or with the source configuration, which often results in painful reconciliation.

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Pros of Ansible
Pros of Pulumi
  • 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
  • 8
    Infrastructure as code with less pain
  • 4
    Best-in-class kubernetes support
  • 3
    Simple
  • 3
    Can use many languages
  • 2
    Great CLI
  • 2
    Can be self-hosted
  • 2
    Multi-cloud
  • 1
    Built-in secret management

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Cons of Ansible
Cons of Pulumi
  • 8
    Dangerous
  • 5
    Hard to install
  • 3
    Doesn't Run on Windows
  • 3
    Bloated
  • 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 Pulumi?

    Pulumi is a cloud development platform that makes creating cloud programs easy and productive. Skip the YAML and just write code. Pulumi is multi-language, multi-cloud and fully extensible in both its engine and ecosystem of packages.

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    What companies use Ansible?
    What companies use Pulumi?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Ansible or Pulumi.
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    What tools integrate with Ansible?
    What tools integrate with Pulumi?

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    What are some alternatives to Ansible and Pulumi?
    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
    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
    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.
    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.
    See all alternatives