Jenkins vs Ansible: What are the Differences and Which One is Better?
Jenkins and Ansible have been well-acclaimed by developers worldwide. Jenkins is used primarily for building and testing software projects, while Ansible is used for managing and automating the configuration and deployment of infrastructure and applications. In this article, we have illustrated the differences between Jenkins vs. Ansible.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What is Jenkins?
- 2 What is Ansible?
- 3 What Is The Difference Between Ansible and Jenkins?
- 4 Ansible vs Jenkins: Which is better?
- 5 How to Integrate Ansible in Jenkins?
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
What is Jenkins?
Jenkins is a popular open-source automation server that offers numerous plugins for automating, building, and deploying any project. It is server-based and is akin to the Apache Tomcat web server. It aims to provide simpler methods that streamline continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
Jenkins is compatible with nearly every programming language and source code repository that uses pipelines. It is also well used for the automation of routine development tasks. Jenkins provides a faster and more reliable way to integrate a chain of tools designed for building, testing, and deploying without needing to create scripts for every step.
Advantages of Jenkins
With over 147,000 installations worldwide, it has helped software companies accelerate development operations. Jenkins has garnered a name for itself with its monitoring of the repeated tasks arising during project development. Some other advantages are listed below:-
- It is an open-source, user-friendly platform that is easy to install.
- It is completely free of cost.
- It can be easily configured, modified, and extended because it instantaneously deploys code and generates test reports.
- It is available for every platform and every operating system.
- It has a robust amount of plugins that enable users to build, deploy and automate across numerous platforms.
- It enables developers to write tests quickly to detect errors in their code. No time is wasted on extensive error-ridden integrations.
- Issues are identified and resolved almost instantly, keeping the software stable and ready for safe deployment.
- Automated integration work in Jenkins allows lesser integration issues which helps save both time and money during the project.
Disadvantages of Jenkins
All software applications, no matter how perfectly built, come with flaws. Jenkins, too, has certain limitations. Some of the cons of Jenkins have been listed below:-
- It depends on plug-ins for even the basic things.
- Every plug-in cannot adapt to the declarative pipeline syntax.
- Many plug-ins are maintained routinely by the developer team and therefore are not regularly updated.
- Many complain that the Jenkins User Interface is not as user-friendly as the latest UI Technologies. First-time users find it challenging to navigate.
- Despite the robust plug-in ecosystem of Jenkins, it fails to offer any analytical support for ending the deployment cycle. It leads to the creation of difficulties in the tracking of the project deployment.
Features of Jenkins
Jenkins is popular because of the numerous helpful features that it offers to developers. Some of the popular features of Jenkins are listed below:-
- Easy to install and configure: Jenkins is a platform-independent Java-based program that can be easily installed, set up, and configured via its web interface. It also offers error checks and comes with a default help function.
- Available Plugins: There are numerous available plugins in the Update Center that can be integrated with all tools in the CI/CD toolchain.
- Extensible: Jenkins is easily extensible with the help of its plugin ecosystem. This offers infinite possibilities to developers.
- Easy Distribution: Jenkins can distribute work via multiple machines easily. This results in faster building, testing, and deployment across numerous platforms.
Cost, Customer Support
Jenkins is the most popular open-source platform available for free and entirely dependent on extensive community support. Being open-source and widely used, you are bound to find support regarding any issue from robust communities of online agile teams.
What is Ansible?
Ansible is another popular software tool offering simple and powerful automation for cross-platform computer support. IT professionals widely use it to deploy applications and update servers and workstations. It is also used for configuration management, intra-service orchestration, cloud provisioning, and the like. Ansible offers support for almost everything related to the routined administrating of systems.
Ansible is not dependent on agent software and has no additional security infrastructure. Therefore, it makes deployment easy. Everything requires to be written in simple script form. This makes conducting version control easy.
Advantages of Ansible
Ansible comes with a bevy of advantages that make it one of the most popular software testing platforms among developers:-
- Free to use: Ansible is completely free to use because it is an open-source tool.
- Simple set-up process: You don’t require coding skills to use Ansible’s playbooks.
- Powerful tool: It is a powerful tool that one can use to model the most complicated IT workflows.
- Flexible: It offers enough flexibility to orchestrate a wholesome application environment. It does not matter where it is deployed; it can be customized per your needs.
- Ansible Galaxy: Ansible extends a central repository for public usage comprising various reusable Ansible roles for easy implementation.
- Agentless: You need not set up a different management structure and install firewall ports or external software on client systems.
- Efficient: You don’t need additional software to use Ansible. This leaves more room on the server for application resources and makes it more efficient.
Disadvantages of Ansible
Since Ansible is fairly new, it has quite a few downsides. As a developer, it is important to keep them in mind so you can choose the right tools. Some disadvantages are listed below:-
- Crude User Interface: Many users complain of Ansible having an insufficient user interface that requires an upgrade and improvements. The command line and the GUI fails to synchronize correctly. This has led to numerous query results.
- Limited Support for Windows: Ansible does not offer full-fledged Windows support. Rather than employing SSH, it sticks to a native PowerShell remoting for Windows. Windows hosts require a Linux control machine to support Ansible.
- Ansible lacks Experience: Ansible lacks adequate enterprise support. It does not have a wholesome working experience with its robust competitors like Puppet or Chef.
- Ansible is fairly new to the market: Unlike other names in the world of automation software, Ansible is quite new. Therefore, it still lacks a significant community for developers or users. It also implies the possibility of unknown software issues, undiscovered bugs, and edge scenarios.
Features of Ansible
Ansible, as an open-source automation platform, comes with several features that make it indispensable. Some of the prominent features of Ansible are listed below:-
- Configuration Management: Ansible is simple, consistent, and reliable for managing the configuration. Ansible configurations are simple descriptions of data and infrastructure, which machines and humans can decipher.
- Deployment of applications: Ansible enables developers to deploy multi-tier applications with ease. No custom code is required for system automation. You can list the tasks needed to be done by devising a playbook instead. This playbook will help Ansible figure out how to configure your systems to the desired state.
- Orchestration: Ansible makes use of provisioning, automated workflows, and more to help optimize orchestrating tasks.
- Compliance and Security: With Ansible, extensive security policies (such as firewall rules or locking down users) can be implemented sitewide, along with application deployment and other automated processes. Configuring security details of the control will eliminate the need to monitor every single machine for security compliance manually.
- Cloud Provisioning: Automating the provisioning of infrastructure is the primary step in automating the life cycle of your application. Ansible enables you to provision cloud platforms, network devices, virtualized hosts, and bare-metal servers.
Cost, Customer Support
Ansible is an open-source automation platform that is free to use. As for its support, you can contact the Red Hat Customer Support available in your region. It also has a robust and engaged user community that can help solve queries.
What Is The Difference Between Ansible and Jenkins?
Many open-source platforms are dedicated to automation, starting from CircleCI, Jenkins, Ansible, Maven, and the like. We have listed the important differences between Ansible and Jenkins in the table below:-
|Purpose||Jenkins is a continuous integration (CI) tool primarily used for building and testing software projects.||Ansible is a configuration management and orchestration tool for automating infrastructure and application deployment, setup, and administration.|
|Approach||Jenkins configures and manages builds with a web-based interface and a job-based strategy.||Ansible uses a declarative configuration language and playbook-based approach to define and execute tasks.|
|Extensibility||Jenkins has a large number of plugins available that allow it to integrate with a wide range of tools and services, including version control systems, testing frameworks, and deployment tools.||Ansible can be extended using custom modules and plugins to support different automation scenarios. Ansible has a large number of integrations available, including support for cloud providers and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms.|
|Language support||Jenkins supports a wide range of programming languages, including Java, Python, and C++. Jenkins uses a Groovy-based DSL (Domain Specific Language) for configuring build jobs.||Ansible is written in Python and supports writing playbooks in YAML.|
|Scalability||Jenkins is designed to be scalable and can be run on a single machine or as a distributed system.||Ansible is designed to be lightweight and can be used to manage large numbers of servers and devices.|
|Deployment environments||Jenkins can be used to automate the build and deployment process for applications running in a variety of environments, including on-premises servers and cloud platforms.||Ansible is primarily used to automate the deployment and management of infrastructure and applications in cloud environments, but can also be used to manage on-premises servers.|
|Learning curve||Jenkins has a more complex user interface and requires more setup and configuration, but it provides a wide range of features and plugins for managing build and test processes.||Ansible has a relatively low learning curve and is easy to get started with due to its straightforward configuration syntax.|
|Interface||Jenkins provides a web-based interface for configuring and managing build jobs, as well as tools for integrating with version control systems and testing frameworks. The Jenkins interface is highly customizable and provides a range of options for configuring build pipelines, setting up build agents, and integrating with other tools and services. Jenkins also provides a command-line interface (CLI) for managing build jobs and other aspects of the Jenkins environment.||Ansible provides a command-line interface (CLI) for running ad-hoc tasks and managing inventory, as well as a web-based interface called Ansible Tower for managing and scaling Ansible environments. Ansible Tower provides a range of features for managing and automating the deployment, configuration, and management of infrastructure and applications, including role-based access control, scheduling, and integration with other tools and services.|
Ansible vs Jenkins: Which is better?
Jenkins is often regarded as a more effective solution for continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) procedures. Jenkins has support for testing frameworks, code coverage tools, and static analysis tools, among other capabilities and plugins for creating, testing, and deploying software updates.
Jenkins, for example, may be set up to execute tests whenever code is submitted to a version control repository or on a regular basis. It may also be set to send test results to developers and generate reports on test coverage and other metrics. Jenkins also has a number of plugins for interacting with testing frameworks and tools such as JUnit and Selenium.
Meanwhile, Ansible is primarily a configuration management and orchestration tool used to automate infrastructure and application deployment, setup, and administration. Ansible may be used to automate testing, but it is not as extensive or specialized for this purpose as Jenkins.
Jenkins and Ansible can be used as part of a larger testing and deployment pipeline. Jenkins, for example, may be used to develop and test software changes, and Ansible to deploy such changes to production environments. Jenkins is the preferred solution for smaller jobs that need the use of many tools, such as build, testing, and code quality analysis.
Ansible is the ideal tool for complex infrastructures with too many servers. It is known for its efficient system of inventory management, which is great for managing systems. In summary, Jenkins is generally considered to be a better tool for testing software projects, while Ansible is better suited for automating the deployment, configuration, and management of infrastructure and applications. Both these tools can be used together as part of a larger testing and deployment pipeline.
Both tools boast great community support. However, Ansible is preferred if users are looking for support because the developer behind it, Redhat, backs it up. Both Jenkins and Ansible are popular tools in the software development and DevOps communities, but Jenkins has a larger user base and a longer history.
How to Integrate Ansible in Jenkins?
In the following section, we have described the steps to integrate Ansible in Jenkins using Apache Tomcat.
- Step 1: Make a Jenkins job. Configure the SCM repo using the GitHub code
- Step 2: Configure the build
- Step 3: Make a roles directory inside the Jenkins workspace
- Step 4: Make the Tomcat role within the Jenkins workspace location with the command given below:-
$ sudo ansible-galaxy init tomcat –offline
The main site.yml file is developed in the directory named /var/lib/Jenkins/workspace/<Jenkins-Job-Name>.
- Step 5: Configure the post-build step of Jenkins to bring forth the Ansible playbook. You can call the site.yml file and save the job.
- Step 6: Activate the build job and deploy the Tomcat URL to verify if the application is deployed correctly.
Jenkins and Ansible have been well-received amongst developers. These two automation technologies have simplified the efficient running of operations. However, when it comes to the matter of choice, you need to weigh out your options. Choose the tool that is best suited for your business needs.
For optimized open-source test automation, you can opt for Testsigma. It is a completely customizable platform where you can build end-to-end tests faster and more effectively. Testsigma can be easily integrated with CI/CD and testing automation tools such as Jenkins to help save time by decreasing manual effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ansible the same as Jenkins?
Ansible and Jenkins, although similar, are not essentially the same. Ansible helps automate the provision of target environments and then deploy applications. On the other hand, Jenkins is used for IT automation and CI/CD Delivery to provision target environments.
Does Jenkins use Ansible?
Ansible is often used in the Jenkins pipeline flow for reusing roles and Playbooks to provision target environments. This only leaves room for Jenkins to be the orchestrator instead of the executor for shell scripts.
What are some alternatives to Ansible?
Some of the top Ansible alternatives have been listed below:-
- Octopus Deploy
- UrbanCode Deploy
- Azure Pipelines
- Puppet Enterprise
- CloudBees Platform
- Continuous Delivery Automation (CDA)
What are some Jenkins alternatives for developers?
Some of the best Jenkins alternatives have been listed below:-
- GitHub Actions
- CloudBees CI
- Azure DevOps Server
- Copado CI/CD
- Red Hat Ansible