Terraform vs Ansible

If you have knowledge about infrastructure development, then you might be aware of the tools used. Yes you heard it right, today we are going to discuss two popular tools, they are; Terraform and Ansible. In this Terraform VS Ansible blog, you will be learning the major differences between the tools. We are going to differentiate between these tools on the basis of various criteria. Both Terraform and Ansible are open source infrastructure tools, mainly used to develop, build, and maintain the infrastructures safely. Let’s start learning and unleash the infrastructure knowledge. Let’s begin with the definition of Terraform and Ansible:

A Quick Introduction to Terraform

Terraform is an open source infrastructure tool used as code software, first developed by HashiCorp. This is a user-defined and data center infrastructure service provider that uses various HashiCorp languages, optionally using JSON structure language. The main purpose of using terraform is to build, change, and update the infrastructure functionality safely and effectively. Terraform also helps users to manage the existing and service providers as well as customized in-house solutions. With the help of Terraform configuration files,you can describe the components used to run a single software application or entire business data center. One of the popular Amazon products uses the Terraform infrastructure code such as “AWS” to create, update, and modify the Amazon versions. 

A Quick Introduction to Ansible

Ansible is an open source automation infrastructure tool or any platform. This Ansible is mainly used for information technology tasks like configuration management, various intraservice orchestrations, application deployments, and provisioning.  The Ansible tool is mainly used as a “DevOps application tool”. This DevOps tool performs various operations like time-consuming, task repetitive, and complex problem solving. Ansible is also a fictional software device or technology that offers instantaneous and faster communications. This software tool also sends and receives messages to and from any corresponding devices between the star systems. More than 1000 companies that use Ansible like Intel, Evernote, Hootsuite, and NASA.

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Major Differences Between Ansible and Terraform

In this section we are going to list the major differences between Ansible and terraform:

1. Management and scheduling:

 Ansible

Ansible tool is instantaneous software and all the deployments are possible. This can be possible if the server pushes the configuration services to the cluster nodes. When it comes to scheduling, the free version of Ansible offers enterprise-level and capabilities functionalities.

Terraform

In terraform, all the resource schedulers work similarly and also enable them to request the resources. This infrastructure tool is not limited to AWS or any platforms. Terraform also provides a physically scheduled grid, physical infrastructure, and running the various schedulers.

Related Article: Ansible shell vs command !

2. Easy of setup and use:

Ansible

Ansible tool is simple to use and install. This consists of a master without agents, run on the client machines.Ansible uses YAML syntax which is written in Python language and built in most of the Linux and UNIX languages.

Terraform

Terraform is simple to use and when it comes to setup process and usage, terraform uses the proxy servers to run the installer.

3. Availability:

Ansible

Ansible consists of the secondary node if the active node fails to operate.

Terraform

This is not applicable in terraform.

4. Scalability:

Ansible

In Ansible, Scalability is easier to achieve.

Terraform

Scalability is comparatively easily achieved through nodes.

5. Modules:

Ansible

Ansible repository or any library is also called an Ansible galaxy. This does not separate the sorting process and also requires manual interventions.

Terraform

The terraform modules allow users to abstract away any reusable functional parts. These parts can be configured or installed once and can be used everywhere.

6. Graphical user interface:

Ansible

Ansible GUI is less developed and that consists of a command-line tool. Even though the Ansible enterprise version provides a user interface, and short of expectations from synching issue.

Terraform

Only third-party graphical user interfaces are available for terraform infrastructure tools.

7. Support:

Ansible

Ansible also consists of two levels of professional support to its business enterprise for its enterprise version. Here AnsibleFest is also an ansible tool that is a big gathering of users and contributors.

Terraform

Terraform offers direct access to HashiCorp support channels through the web portal.

Type of tools

Ansible

Ansible is an open-source tool for configuration management. It is also helpful in application management, provisioning, and orchestration. Moreover, it is an automation tool that simplifies many complex tasks making developers' jobs easier. 

Terraform

It is also an open-source orchestration tool helpful in creating, transforming, and versioning structures more effectively and securely. Also, it is an IaC (Infrastructure-as-Code) tool that is very simple to use. It is helpful in data centers and software-based networking ecosystems. 

Language

Ansible

It uses YAML language. YAML refers to Yet Another Markup Language, a declarative language that runs from top to bottom. Ansible is written in Python language.

Terraform

It uses HCL language, which stands for Hashicorp Configuration Language. Moreover, HCL is a procedural language that runs without bothering with the code sequences. However, Terraform is an open-source language that is written in Golang.

Infrastructure

Ansible

It enables a mutable infrastructure that allows you to alter the configuration without restoring the components. Further, it follows IaaC, which automates the infrastructure provisioning that includes databases, servers, etc. 

Terraform

It follows an immutable infrastructure where we cannot alter the configuration. But can restore the infrastructure components with the new setup. It is also an Infrastructure as a code tool that enables users to easily define both on-premise and on-cloud resources into a readable format that humans can read. 

State Management

Ansible

Ansible doesn't create any state files or save the structure activities. Therefore it doesn't execute state management. It is a stateless IaaC tool that doesn't constitute the system's state or file. Also, it doesn't involve configuration changes. 

Terraform

In contrast to Ansible, Terraform executes state management as it involves the creation of state files that store the infrastructure activities. The state files include provisioned infrastructure data that Terraform easily manages. 

Implementation

Ansible

It allows its users to implement it in both environments- on-premise and on-cloud. However, push mode is the most common to use Ansible much better. Also, it automates the implementation of many internal apps to production, which makes DevOps jobs easier.

Terraform

It primarily allows cloud implementation services making it more efficient to handle lifecycle management. But it also lets you define on-premise resources making the configuration into an easy-to-read form. It will enable users to reuse and share it easily. 

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Features of Terraform

The following are the important features of terraform:

1. Provides VCS connection:

 a. write, review, collaborate on code.

 b. Business organization automates and triggers runs through the connection between terraform tools and Major VCS providers.

2. Private module registry:

a. Share code across the organization.

b. Enterprises manage module lifecycle using versions that can be enforced by a sentinel,and also enables self-services.

3. Workspaces:

a. Decompose monolithic infrastructure into logical micro-infrastructures enterprises.

b. Map functional responsibilities to individual workspaces and interlink workspace outputs via APIs.

4. Variables:

a. Here Granular variables allow easy reuse of code to scale resources, and regions, etc.

b. All variables are securely stored and retrieved as needed during the provisioning process.

5. Runs and state:

a. Run the policy as code Two-phased provisioning automation.

b. A plan or dry run and apply (Execution) and output stored in the state files.

c. Enterprise remote runs (Graphical user interface, CLI, and API executed) and also helps state storage.

d. Use the policy as a code framework to automate policy controls into workflows. Even business enterprises create every provisioning run to enforce security, compliance, and operational best practices.

                Want to know more about UiPath,visit here Ansible Tutorial !

Features of Ansible

The below are the features of Ansible:

  • Offers easy-to-read syntax: this tool is built on YAML.
  • Ansible is an agentless tool. So there is no need for agent installation and management.
  • This is built on top of python and hence offers a lot of python functionalities.
  • This tool uses SSH for data secured connections.
  • This tool follows push-based architecture for sending configurations.
  • Very easy, fast to set up, and minimal requirements.
  • Offers built-in functional modules:

a. Ansible modules are decorative and these are used to describe the state you want to work with servers.

b. Modules are also idempotent and it’s safe to run an ansible playbook multiple times against multiple users.

Benefits of Terraform:

The following are the few benefits of terraform:

  • This terraform can be used as a reproducible infrastructure.
  • Eliminating it works fine in my environment.
  • Increases the velocity and reliability.
  • Eliminate wait-time for environment provisioning.
  • Clean test environments prevent false-positive and false-negative results.
  • The business benefits of defining infrastructure as code are lower costs of system management and lower risk of unexpected problems arising when infrastructure changes are implemented.

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Benefits of Ansible:

The following are the few benefits of Ansible:

  • Lower the system maintenance cost: users can quickly and easily do security and performance updates.
  • Deploy more reliably, and faster: easy to structure release process, make it reproducible, reliable, and distributed.
  • Automate recovery and fall over: faster time to recovery, less risk, and less downtime.
  • Mitigate the pain of migration: make it easier to take advantage of new technologies, easy to integrate them into the cloud applications.
  • Gentle learning curve and easy adaptations: easy to adapt, non-intrusive, and also plays well with various existing infrastructures.
  • Intelligible: Makes it easy to learn, audit, and verify the IT tool. 

Top 30 frequently asked Ansible Interview Questions !

What are the Advantages and Drawbacks of Ansible?

Advantages

Ansibles provides many benefits to its users:-

  • It is an open-source automation config tool that automates the app life cycle and infrastructure setup. 
  • Ansible is an easy-to-learn tool that doesn't need any additional skills.
  • It also minimizes the complexity of IT operations and repetition in the IT ecosystem.
  • Ansible enables continuous deployment of apps by offering excellent visibility into IT operations. 
  • Further, it enhances the IT environment's productivity by saving much time. 
  • It is straightforward to set up and use.
  • It gives the flexibility to orchestrate the whole environment irrespective of its deployment. 
  • Ansible's structure is agentless, simplifying the deployment of apps and their configuration. 
  • It is highly efficient to manage applications and designs and doesn't need additional software installation. 

Drawbacks

The following are some drawbacks of Ansible:

  • It doesn't have any notion of the state as it is a stateless tool.
  • Ansible doesn't support macOS. 
  • It cannot handle large data volumes.
  • Since it's a new tool, it could have better community support.
  • The major drawback of Ansible is that it doesn't provide an efficient user interface. 
  • Also, it doesn't have enterprise support experience. 

What are the Advantages and Drawbacks of Terraform?

Advantages

The following are the significant advantages of Terraform.:-

  • Terraform offers human-readable data, which is easy to read through its HCL language. 
  • It provides good documentation.
  • Terraform offers reusable templates that support multiple spaces.
  • It is an easy tool to set up that offers faster infrastructure deployment.
  • It also includes extension and integration with cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP, etc.
  • It can easily store local variables such as cloud tokens, passwords, etc.
  • Terraform is highly expandable.
  • It provides some modules that offer scalable setups. 
Drawbacks

Further, there are a few drawbacks to using Terraform, which are as follows:-

  • In Terraform, it can be challenging to build CI/CD pipelines.
  • There is no rollback function available in Terraform to change mistakes in resources.
  • It doesn't hold logical access control, which can compromise framework security. 
  • Also, its enterprise plan is quite expensive. 

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Final words

In this Ansible VS terraform blog, we have tried to list few major differences between these tools. Both Ansible and Terraform are open-source infrastructure tools mainly used to perform operations like build, manage, and update infrastructure systems. When you look at the differences, I would like to suggest Ansible is more beneficial when compared to terraform. Ansible is an excellent tool for provisioning software tools and machines, whereas Terraform is an excellent tool to manage cloud resources. Both two tools have their own benefits and limitations when designing IAC environments used for automation. So it’s always good to choose the best open source infrastructure tool as per your requirements.

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Srivalli
Srivalli
Research Analyst
As a senior technical content writer for HRK tainings, srivalli patchava has a greater understanding of today's data-driven environment, which includes key aspects of data management and IT organizations. She manages the task of creating great content in the areas of software testing, DevOps, Robotic process automation. Connects with her on Linkedin and Twitter.

Terraform Vs Ansible FAQ"s

Terraform is a great cloud infrastructure provisioning tool that supports multiple cloud environments through an IaC approach. For a specific purpose, it can be used as a unique tool.

Both Ansible and Terraform support code and infrastructure deployment within repeatable environments. We can run Ansible on Terraform-furnished resources after creating resources that allow users to use them much faster in other use cases.

It is a powerful tool to build and manage an IT framework. But Ansible automates the various IT processes, deployment, and provisioning. Ansible is an automation tool useful for different purposes, but Terraform follows an IaC approach.

Now it is necessary to use AWS credentials to use Terraform. It is a popular IaC tool similar to AWS CloudFormation.

Terraform is a simple and easy language to learn. It offers a faster learning curve with human-readable syntax.