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Ansible vs Tower: What are the differences?

Developers describe Ansible as "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. On the other hand, Tower is detailed as "The most powerful Git client for Mac & Windows". Use all of Git's powerful feature set - in a GUI that makes you more productive.

Ansible belongs to "Server Configuration and Automation" category of the tech stack, while Tower can be primarily classified under "Source Code Management Desktop Apps".

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, Tower provides the following key features:

  • Clone & create repos with a click - Manage your GitHub, Bitbucket & Beanstalk accounts from within Tower
  • Open repos quickly - Tower's "Quick Open" dialog finds and opens repositories in no time
  • Automate the boring stuff - Fetching and stashing are automatically done for you, if you wish

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

Ansible is an open source tool with 37.8K GitHub stars and 15.8K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Ansible's open source repository on GitHub.

PedidosYa, Keen, and New Relic are some of the popular companies that use Ansible, whereas Tower is used by Coderus, WILD, and Paw. Ansible has a broader approval, being mentioned in 955 company stacks & 578 developers stacks; compared to Tower, which is listed in 29 company stacks and 16 developer stacks.

- 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 Tower?

Use all of Git's powerful feature set - in a GUI that makes you more productive.
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Why do developers choose Ansible?
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What are some alternatives to Ansible and Tower?
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.
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Decisions about Ansible and Tower
StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Ansible
Ansible
Puppet Labs
Puppet Labs
Salt
Salt

By 2014, the DevOps team at Lyft decided to port their infrastructure code from Puppet to Salt. At that point, the Puppet code based included around "10,000 lines of spaghetti-code,” which was unfamiliar and challenging to the relatively new members of the DevOps team.

“The DevOps team felt that the Puppet infrastructure was too difficult to pick up quickly and would be impossible to introduce to [their] developers as the tool they’d use to manage their own services.”

To determine a path forward, the team assessed both Ansible and Salt, exploring four key areas: simplicity/ease of use, maturity, performance, and community.

They found that “Salt’s execution and state module support is more mature than Ansible’s, overall,” and that “Salt was faster than Ansible for state/playbook runs.” And while both have high levels of community support, Salt exceeded expectations in terms of friendless and responsiveness to opened issues.

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Marcel Kornegoor
Marcel Kornegoor
CTO at AT Computing · | 5 upvotes · 96.5K views
atAT ComputingAT Computing
Python
Python
Chef
Chef
Puppet Labs
Puppet Labs
Ansible
Ansible
Google Compute Engine
Google Compute Engine
Kubernetes
Kubernetes
Docker
Docker
GitHub
GitHub
VirtualBox
VirtualBox
Jenkins
Jenkins
Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code
Fedora
Fedora
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Debian
Debian
CentOS
CentOS
Ubuntu
Ubuntu
Linux
Linux
#ATComputing

Since #ATComputing is a vendor independent Linux and open source specialist, we do not have a favorite Linux distribution. We mainly use Ubuntu , Centos Debian , Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora during our daily work. These are also the distributions we see most often used in our customers environments.

For our #ci/cd training, we use an open source pipeline that is build around Visual Studio Code , Jenkins , VirtualBox , GitHub , Docker Kubernetes and Google Compute Engine.

For #ServerConfigurationAndAutomation, we have embraced and contributed to Ansible mainly because it is not only flexible and powerful, but also straightforward and easier to learn than some other (open source) solutions. On the other hand: we are not affraid of Puppet Labs and Chef either.

Currently, our most popular #programming #Language course is Python . The reason Python is so popular has to do with it's versatility, but also with its low complexity. This helps sysadmins to write scripts or simple programs to make their job less repetitive and automating things more fun. Python is also widely used to communicate with (REST) API's and for data analysis.

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Cees Timmerman
Cees Timmerman
Software Engineer · | 6 upvotes · 21K views
Windows
Windows
SourceTree
SourceTree
GitKraken
GitKraken
Tower
Tower

Tower appears to be between GitKraken and SourceTree in detail, but gave two scary error dialogs when attempting to merge resulted in a conflict. Doing the same in SourceTree just worked and showed the conflict in its handy file view that's always visible (unlike Tower's mere "Merge branch 'X' into develop" message when the commit is selected).

Both GitKraken and Tower lack the commit hash in their history overview, requiring one to select a commit to see it.

GitKraken appears to be the only Windows 10 Git GUI suitable for night shifts, but like Tower is only free for 30 days, unlike SourceTree.

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Interest over time
Reviews of Ansible and Tower
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How developers use Ansible and Tower
Avatar of Cloudcraft
Cloudcraft uses AnsibleAnsible

Ansible is the deployment tool for people who don't like deployment tools. It's close to scripting, doesn't pollute your servers with agents or centralized servers, and just makes immediate sense. The entire stack at Cloudcraft.co is orchestrated by Ansible. What does that mean? Beyond the obvious of installing packages and configuring services, Ansible coordinates all the machines into a working deployment: It adds API servers to the loadbancer pool, opens ports on the DB server for the backend servers to connect, gracefully upgrades services in a rolling fashion for zero-downtime deployments etc. And it's so easy to use, it's easier to use than doing things by hand, meaning it's a deployment tool you'll actually use every time!

Avatar of Scrayos UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
Scrayos UG (haftungsbeschränkt) uses AnsibleAnsible

We use Ansible to synchronize the few configuration-options we've taken on our CoreOS-Machines. This makes deployment even easier and the fact that it's Agentless made the decision even easier.

Avatar of Bob P
Bob P uses AnsibleAnsible

Ansible is used in both the development and production deployment process. A playbook couple with a Vagrantfile, easy deploys a local virtual machine that will mirror the setup in production.

Avatar of sapslaj
sapslaj uses AnsibleAnsible

I use Ansible to manage the configuration between all of the different pieces of equipment, and because it's agentless I can even manage things like networking devices all from one repo.

Avatar of Bùi Thanh
Bùi Thanh uses AnsibleAnsible
  • Configuration management:
    • deploy/install all web/app environments
    • simple with Galaxy and playbooks.
  • No need any pre-installed agent on remote servers.
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