Chef Vs Puppet Vs Ansible – Comparison of DevOps Configuration Management Tools

By Veritis

Chef Vs Puppet Vs Ansible - Comparison of DevOps Configuration Management Tools

DevOps has evolved rapidly and become a part and parcel of every business function in the digital trend.

Many organizations are increasingly adopting the new collaborative culture in a bid to achieve a competitive edge in modern IT.

“The global DevOps market size reached USD 3.8 billion in 2018 and is projected to attain USD 14.97 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 19.1% during the forecast period.”

DevOps automates and monitors the process of software creation, ranging from integration, testing, releasing to deploying and managing it.

DevOps has successfully laid down the path to take the IT industry to the next level by facilitating a host of benefits including faster delivery time, 100% customer satisfaction, quick fault detection, CI/CD and high ROI.

“IT departments with a strong DevOps workflow deploy software 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates,” says the 2016 State of DevOps Report.

However, while every IT company is finding out ways and chalking out plans for effective DevOps implementation, many are failing to meet the expectations.

Embracing the right DevOps platform or configuration management tool is one of the major challenges encountered in DevOps implementation.

There are a number of latest DevOps configuration tools such as Chef, Puppet, SaltStack and Ansible with various features available in the market.

So, there is an inevitable need for the comparison of various configuration tools to identify the best tool for the success of DevOps projects.

At this very juncture, we bring you the comparison of the top configuration tools including Chef, Puppet and Ansible.

Chef vs Puppet vs Ansible – What are the differences?

The three configuration tools are simple to use and yet facilitate robust capabilities to automate complex multi-tier IT application environments.

Chef vs Puppet vs Ansible – What are the differences? IT Infographic

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The differences between Ansible, Chef and Puppet are portrayed on the basis of different factors including Availability, Configuration Language, Setup and Installation, Ease of Management, Scalability, Interoperability, Tool Capabilities and Pricing.

1) Availability

The availability of the three configuration tools in the event of main master or server failure is very high. Every tool has the facility of a backup server or an alternative master to render support in case of main server failure.

DevOps Tool Availability (in case of server failure)
Chef Backup Server
Puppet Alternative Master
Ansible Secondary instance

2) Configuration Language

Configuration language plays a prominent role in determining the applications of a configuration management tool.

DevOps Tool Configuration Language Suitable for Learning Level
Chef Ruby DSL Developers Difficult
Puppet Ruby, Puppet DSL, Embedded Ruby (ERB), DSL System Administrators Difficult
Ansible Python, YAML System Administrators Simple

3) Setup and Installation

When it comes to ease of setup and installation, Ansible dominates the other two tools as it has ‘agentless’ architecture. Chef and Puppet follow master-agent or master-slave architecture.

DevOps Tool Architecture Ease of Setup and Installation
Chef Master-Agent Difficult and complex due to Chef Workstation
Puppet Master-Agent Difficult due to certificate signing between master and agent
Ansible Only Master (Agentless) Easy

4) Ease of Management

The management of the DevOps tools depends upon the language and configuration of the tools.

There are two types of configurations including ‘pull’ and ‘push’. Pull configuration involves pulling all configurations from a central server to the slave nodes without any commands. Whereas, in a push configuration, all the configurations in the server will be pushed to the nodes with specific commands.

In terms of configuration language, YAML is considered to be the easiest one as it is similar to English and is human-readable. While Puppet DSL and Ruby DSL languages create setbacks for management.

Once again Ansible portrays its dominance over the others in terms of management as it supports YAML language and follows both push and pull configurations.

DevOps Tool Configuration Ease of Management
Chef Pull Difficult
Puppet Pull Difficult
Ansible Push and Pull Easy

5) Scalability

Scalability of the configuration tools is one of the main factors considered by the enterprises before choosing the tool.

Chef, Puppet and Ansible are capable of managing large infrastructures while handling the burden in scaling configurations. However, there is a slight difference between them in terms of scalability owing to the complexity of their configuration language.

DevOps Tool Scalability
Chef High
Puppet High
Ansible Very High

6) Interoperability

In terms of interoperability, all the three tools, Chef, Puppet and Ansible, have similar features. In three cases, all the servers work on Linux or Unix machines while slaves or nodes will work on Windows machines.

DevOps Tool Interoperability
Chef Chef Server should be on Linux/Unix; Workstation and Chef Client support Windows
Puppet Puppet Master should be on Linux/Unix; Puppet Agent or Client supports Windows
Ansible Ansible Server should be on Linux/Unix; Client machines support Windows

7) Tool Capabilities

A review of the product capabilities of each configuration management tool can help in choosing the most suitable tool for your requirements. Each tool has its own set of capabilities that are better in its own way.

Product Capabilities
Chef Puppet Ansible
  • Continuous delivery with automated workflow
  • Compliance and security management
  • Infrastructure automation
  • Orchestration
  • Automated provisioning
  • Code and node management
  • Configuration automation
  • Simple visualization and reporting
  • High transparency
  • Role-based access control
  • Simple orchestration
  • Streamlined provisioning
  • Continuous delivery with automated workflow
  • App deployment
  • Security and compliance integration into automated processes

8) Pricing

Pricing plays a prominent role in decision making for the adoption of configuration management tools or, in general, any product or technology.

DevOps Tool Pricing Pricing
Chef High USD 13700/year for up to 100 nodes
Puppet Medium USD 11200-19900/year for up to 100 nodes
Ansible Low USD 10000/year for up to 100 nodes

In Conclusion

All three tools including Chef, Puppet and Ansible have their own advantages and are better in their own way. Each tool takes a slightly different approach to automation and is suitable for specific user segments in the same target space.

It’s imperative for the organization to consider various technical and business aspects including architecture, features, usability and support to choose the best configuration management tool.

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FAQ’s on Chef Vs Puppet Vs Ansible

Chef is a configuration management automation tool that provides a route to define infrastructure as a code (IAC). It is an open-source tool which is compatible with GitHub forks and GitHub stars.

Chef is one of the most significant tools in the cloud platform that benefits the entire organization’s infrastructure.

Six benefits of Chef are: 1) Accelerating software delivery 2) Accelerating cloud adoption 3) Improving risk management 4) Increasing service resiliency 5) Managing cloud as well as data center 6) Accelerating cloud adoption

Puppet is a software configuration management and deployment tool that helps in automating the configuration management process. It manages the infrastructure on physical or virtual machines.

Puppet has plenty of benefits and some of them are

  1. Puppet is an open-source cross-platform making it free for all
  2. Puppet boosts productivity and manageability
  3. It has an override mechanism
  4. Puppet offers a significant time saving
  5. It supports multiple platforms like Microsoft Windows, BSD, Debian, etc.
Ansible is a simple tool that provides powerful automation for IT tasks such as application deployment, intra-service orchestration, configuration management, and provisioning.
Ansible can provide numerous benefits. Some of them are simple to learn, easily understandable python language, no dependency on agents as Ansible galaxy and playbooks are written in YAML
IT teams can offer various configuration management tasks with the Ansible command line. Some of the best features are configuration management, security and compliance, application deployment, cloud provisioning, orchestration and more.
Puppet, Chef, and Ansible are the top three industry-leading configuration management tools that are built to install and manage software on existing servers.
All the three tools have a common interoperability feature. All the servers work on Unix or Linux in all the three tools, while nodes work on Windows.

Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and SaltStack are the four top contenders in the DevOps tools, including DevOps certification.

The top 4 tools are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) configuration management tools that provide different paths to achieve a common goal.


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