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Ansible Vs Jenkins - What’s the Difference?

Are you unclear about choosing either Ansible or Jenkins for your development project? It's not a wonder if you have any ambiguity over choosing Ansible and Jenkins. This is because Ansible and Jenkins have the same objective of building, testing, debugging, and deploying applications. But they differ in many aspects in terms of their features and functionalities. This blog compares Ansible and Jenkins based on many parameters and provides a clear picture to choose the right tool.

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Ansible is the product of Red Hat. It is the DevOps tool widely used by many companies to simplify DevOps activities. On the same track, Jenkins is yet another DevOps tool that simplifies application development and deployment. Ansible shines at resource orchestration and software provisioning, whereas Jenkins shines at CI/CD deployment and plugins. Though the two tools are basically DevOps tools, they have many differences in terms of features and functionalities.

If you wonder how they differ, this blog will help you find the same.

This blog compares Ansible and Jenkins in all dimensions. In this blog, you will go through the prime features of the tools, their differences, and the pros and cons in greater detail. This blog will undoubtedly help you choose the right tool for your development project.

Table of Content: Ansible Vs. Jenkins

What is Ansible?

Ansible is a lightweight, open-source, easy-to-use workflow orchestration tool. It is a powerful tool that supports software provisioning, application lifecycle management, configuration management, and updating workstations as well as servers.

In its basic form, Ansible is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) tool with which you can make fine control over IT resources by writing codes. Ansible playbooks play a vital role in this regard.

Know that Ansible is an automation platform that simplifies DevOps activities and reduces complexity in an IT environment. With Ansible, you can effectively automate cloud resources, networks, edge devices, configuration, security, and many more. Not only that, it offers zero downtime rolling updates and simplifies other routine tasks. For instance, you can automate and control a complete network of computers simultaneously.

Moreover, Ansible provides role-based access to dashboards to track and monitor the status of tasks and implement security policies to provide a secured platform for application development. In addition, it is an agentless tool that simplifies CI/CD deployment of applications.

Want to become a Certified Ansible Specialist, then enroll in our “Ansible Online Training”.  This course will help you to achieve excellence in this domain.

What is Jenkins?

Jenkins is nothing but an open-source, heavy-weight, and extensible automation server. It is an easy-to-setup and configurable DevOps tool with which you can quickly build, test, and deploy applications.

The significant thing about Jenkins is that it offers over 1600 plugins. By using the plugins, you can easily integrate Jenkins with third-party tools.

Know that you can use Jenkins as a simple CI server for any application. Jenkins simplifies CI/CD pipelines and deploys codes in containers as well as Virtual Machines effortlessly. It continuously tests codes and finds bugs at earlier stages. In other words, once developers commit the code, it will be immediately tested and debugged. So, you don’t need to test codes all at once and debug. As a result, it simplifies and speeds up the process of deploying applications.

Moreover, Jenkins allows multiple machines to develop and deploy applications across multiple platforms.

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Key Features of Ansible

Well! Before diving into the comparison of Ansible and Jenkins, we will look at the crucial features of the two.

Features of Ansible vs Jenkins

 Let’s start with Ansible now!

As you know, Ansible is one of the tools that has many powerful features with which you can simplify configuration management, orchestration, and many more.

The following are the critical features of Ansible. Here we go!

  • Agentless

Ansible uses an agentless architecture. That’s why Ansible uses SSH instead of agents. SSH refers to Secure Socket Shell, which is essentially a network protocol. As Ansible uses this architecture, you don’t need to install any security features in the client machines. Instead, you can use an SSH key to start managing client machines.

  • IaaS

No wonder you can manage IT infrastructure by writing codes. Thanks to Ansible playbooks. They play a vital role in managing IT resources.

  • Orchestration

During the application lifecycle, you need to manage front-end tools and resources such as databases, storage, networks, etc. Ansible provides an effective solution for this requirement. It simplifies managing multiple resources and tasks through automated workflows and provisioning.

Related Article: Ansible Tutorial

Key Features of Jenkins

Like Ansible, Jenkins has many features to build, test, and deploy applications effectively.

Let’s quickly look at some of the vital features of Jenkins in the following:

  •  Plugins

This is where Jenkins truly shines. In fact, Jenkins offers a volume of plugins to integrate with many third-party tools. It indeed empowers the extensibility of Jenkins. Multiple SCMs, Build Pipelines, Green Balls, Embeddable Build Status, and JDK Parameter Plugins are a few plugins that Jenkins offers.

  • CI/CD Deployment

Jenkins simplifies application deployment through CI/CD pipelines. By using the pipelines, you can seamlessly deploy applications on various platforms. And CI/CD pipelines allow finding and debugging errors before deploying them into the staging or production environment.

  • Easy Distribution

You can distribute Jenkins across many clients and platforms. As a result, you can build, test, and deploy codes quickly.

What are the Key Differences between Ansible and Jenkins?     

 As you know, both Ansible and Jenkins are DevOps tools used for building, orchestrating, configuring, and deploying applications efficiently. However, many differences exist between Ansible and Jenkins.

Let’s discuss the differences in the following in greater detail.

  • Configuration

Ansible is an easy-to-setup, manage, configure, and deployable tool. As Ansible follows agentless architecture, you don’t need to install any security features in client machines before managing them.  

On the other hand, Jenkins is also an easy tool to install, manage, configure, deploy, and troubleshoot. Here, installation is made through native system packages.

But installation and configuration are a bit harder than Ansible. As a result, the setup time is a little longer in Jenkins compared to Ansible.

  • Platform

Ansible works better on the Linux platform. It doesn’t support Windows like Linux.

On the other hand, Jenkins is a server-based tool that can work on any platform – Linux, Windows, or macOS.

Note that both of the tools don’t support the mobile version.

  • Languages Used

Ansible comes with an easy and human-readable automation language known as YAML. The written codes are referred to as YAML playbooks. Anyone can clearly read and write YAML playbooks regardless of their technical expertise. The significant thing about YAML is that it offers reusable templates.

On the other side, Jenkins uses Java language for coding. So, it requires expertise in java programming to use the tool.

  • Learning Curve

Ansible has a low learning curve, whereas Jenkins has a steep one.

This is simply because Ansible doesn't demand specific technical expertise for its users. But at the same time, you need Java programming skills to work with Jenkins. In particular, you must have the sound technical expertise to manage and service servers.

  • Scope of Use

Ansible is increasingly used across largescale companies than small ones. On the contrary, you can use Jenkins for any industry – it doesn’t matter whether it is a small, medium, or large-scale industry.

  • Use-cases

Essentially, Ansible is an IT automation platform that is mainly used for configuration management and orchestration. With Ansible, you can quickly set up servers, especially cloud servers and other infrastructure. So, you can use Ansible to manage complex projects with many servers.

On the other hand, Jenkins is mainly used for code building, testing, debugging codes, and CI/CD deployment. Unlike Ansible, you can use Jenkins for projects that are small but deal with many tools.

  • Community Support

As you know, Ansible is an open-source tool. So, it has an excellent ecosystem since it has many active participants in its community. Documentation is one of the prime features of Ansible.

On the other hand, Jenkins is also an open-source tool with decent community support.

  • Dashboard

Know that Ansible Tower is the commercial version of Ansible, which provides a robust web-based visual dashboard with role-based access control – out of the box. This is where users can get the analytics, reports, etc., of application management, configuration, and orchestration made through Ansible. Not just that, you can view job scheduling and real-time job status updates from the dashboard.

On the other side, Jenkins doesn’t provide any dashboard out of the box. However, you can easily integrate third-party analytics tools with the help of plugins.

  • Integrations

Ansible integrates with Google Cloud, Travis CI, Microsoft Azure, Splunk, and so on.

Jenkins integrates with many DevOps tools such as GitHub, Bit Bucket, Gitlab, Puppet, and so on.               

  • Pricing

Jenkins is ultimately a free and open-source tool.

On the other side, Ansible comes with both free and commercial versions. In the commercial version or Ansible Tower, the pricing depends on the number of nodes you choose. The nodes can be systems, VMs, instances, hosts, and containers. Note that Ansible charges up to 20,000 USD for over 1000 nodes.

  • Google Trends

Let’s see the Google trends for both Ansible and Jenkins. The below graph shows that both the tools are being searched nearly in the same volume, but Jenkins is slightly higher than Ansible. The important thing is that they constantly go parallel throughout the graph. It is evident that no tool is significantly high or low than the other.

Google Trends

We hope that you might be clear about the differences between Ansible and Jenkins. If you still need help, no doubt the following comparison chart will be beneficial.

Features

Ansible

Jenkins

Installation and Configuration

Easy

Bit difficult

Platform

Great support for Linux. But lacks Windows

Supports all platforms

Language used

YAML

Java

Scope of use

Suitable for Complex and large-scale projects

Suitable for small projects with multiple tools

Community Support

Very Good

Good

Products

Offer both open-source and commercial versions

Completely open-source tool

Dashboards

Web-based Dashboard

No

Learning Curve

Low

Steep

 Okay! So far, we have gone through the differences between Ansible and Jenkins. It's not a surprise that you may have a question about whether we could integrate Ansible and Jenkins and use them. The answer is simple – YES. It is possible to integrate Ansible and Jenkins together and use them to build, configure, test, manage, debug, and deploy applications more effectively.

Related Article: Jenkins Tutorial

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ansible

Every coin has two sides. In the same way, every tool has its pros and cons. Next, we will go through the pros and cons of Ansible in the following.

Advantages

  • First and foremost, Ansible is a reliable and secure tool.
  • It eliminates repetitive and mundane tasks in application building, managing, and deployment. Besides, it reduces errors in codes as low as possible.
  • It avoids installing any security features in clients’ machines.
  • It enhances collaboration among teams
  • It supports satisfying compliance requirements
  • As a whole, you can save time and boosts productivity significantly.

Disadvantages

  • Processing large-scale inventory is not straightforward with Ansible
  • The package manager is challenging to work with.
  • SSH feature creates difficulty at times.
Related Article: Ansible Interview Questions

Advantages and Disadvantages of Jenkins

Are you interested in knowing the pros and cons of Jenkins? 

Here we go!

Advantages

  • Jenkins is well-suited for highly multi-cloud and hybrid systems.
  • It offers good version control management.
  • CI/CD pipelines simplify automating deployment – any time or anywhere
  • You can use Jenkins with many source code repositories and other tools as and when required.
  • Jenkins provides a high volume of plugins for external integrations.
  • It supports cloud-based architecture. So, you can deploy Jenkins in cloud platforms seamlessly.

Disadvantage

  • Jenkins still relies on old Java architectures such as Servlets and Maven. It doesn't support the latest architectures, such as Spring Boot and GraalVM.
  • The User Interface (UI) is not easy to use
  • It demands a high-performance server
  • Managing complex projects is difficult with Jenkins.
Related Article: Jenkins Interview Questions

Final Thoughts

Well! It is now time to choose the right tool – Ansible or Jenkins. Before that, we will go through a short overview of the two tools. When it comes to Ansible, its key strengths are orchestration, provisioning, and configuration management. And the critical strengths of Jenkins are CI/CD deployment and a library of plugins. Both tools have many pluses and a few minuses, undeniably.

On that note, the right solution for choosing the right tool is as follows – you can choose Ansible if you are working on a project that demands robust configuration management and orchestration like any other. Similarly, you can choose Jenkins if you are working on a project that demands robust deployment tools and integration with many external tools. So, you can choose either Ansible or Jenkins based on the project requirements. On top of all, you can use Ansible and Jenkins together if the project demands all the critical features mentioned earlier.

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About Author

 

Madhuri is a Senior Content Creator at MindMajix. She has written about a range of different topics on various technologies, which include, Splunk, Tensorflow, Selenium, and CEH. She spends most of her time researching on technology, and startups. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter .

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