Ansible vs Jenkins
While you are starting out with DevOps, one of the challenges is getting the lay of the land. There are many tools out there. When one of the goals of DevOps is continually improving your business functions, it’s important for you to understand how those tools may fit in your infrastructure. At times, you want to be efficient. You do not want to integrate tools that overlap with one another, or tools that cost more than other effective options.
In this article, we are going to break down the differences between the two DevOps technologies, and how they can work for your organization. We will read about Ansible and Jenkins, and what makes each of them tick. Then we will examine the perfect use case for each, and even how they might work together.
What Is Jenkins?
Jenkins is one of the earliest tools in the DevOps tools list. we remember writing scripts for Jenkins build processes almost ten years before, and it was not new then. Like many of the oldest DevOps tools, Jenkins is a tool for executing a series of scripts one at a time. If a script runs successfully, the next script is executed until they have all done. If the script fails, it sends a notification to the administrator, and stops trying to execute the build process.
What makes Jenkins so powerful is that it’s approximately infinitely configurable, and hooks into all types of different tools. Since it has been around for so long, you can find a script that’ll allow you to do almost anything you want, once you can get it to work.
The challenge while working with Jenkins is that it’s a very linear tool. You will have to perform step one, then two, then three, then four. Each of your scripts needs to know exactly how the environment will look like, and how to fail if they get something unexpected. Jenkins is a terrific transitional tool if your servers have traditionally been tracked by system administrators that built a collection of scripts to manage their servers.
However, many DevOps teams look for more robust software to organize their deployment processes. Usually, they do this because their deployments are too complex to manage through Jenkins.
What Is Ansible?
Ansible is a tool developed by RedHat. Ansible is a tool to monitor deploying services. The primary use case for Ansible is when your application runs on multiple services on a cloud provider such as AWS or Red Hat OpenShift. You provide a definition to Ansible about how your environment should look like, and Ansible handles the nitty-gritty of configuring your environment to match your requirements. Ansible is a captain in the Infrastructure as Code space, which is many companies’ first step into the DevOps world.
The value of a tool like Ansible is indispensable for many Site Reliability Engineers. They depend on tools like Ansible to ensure that their environment always contains the services they need. We are sure that you know the feeling of troubleshooting when a deployment gone wrong. Something can be broken while you were deploying a new version of the software, and you can’t figure out why. Eventually, you are can trace it to an error in some obscure log, about a service rejecting a connection strive on a port you were sure was open.
Ansible is designed to prevent that the kind of problem. It’s there to ensure that network port you need open is always open. If it’s not, Ansible won’t let the deployment continue until the port is configured to open. That speeds up deployment times and makes your tasks easier.
What About Ansible Tower?
One of the major setbacks of Ansible when it first released was that it was just a deployment system. There is nothing wrong with that, but like with Jenkins, many DevOps teams prefer well-rounded tools that help them solve multiple problems. That is why Red Hat developed Ansible Tower, a system for automating recurring tasks. Ansible Tower provides you full visibility into the state of those workflows and integrates nicely with the other pieces of the Ansible ecosystem.
Ansible Tower provides you the tools you need to manage deployments on a conditional basis. For instance, if you do not want an environment to start up until all unit tests pass first, Ansible Tower is the tool for you.
So, Jenkins or Ansible Tower?
On some level, the question of Jenkins or Ansible Tower rely on your existing environment. Do you have a lot of existing scripts that integrate nicely together? Are they all very straightforward? Jenkins can be the right tool for your team.
However, if you want something with more heft, that can handle bigger problems, you might need to check out Ansible and Ansible Tower. As noted, it gives a bevy of options, and the pieces are designed to work in contrast with one another. Jenkins lacks a built-in deployment tool, though you can hook it to just about any deployment tool that you need. Ansible and Ansible Tower working can manage both sides of the CI/CD workflow: both the Continuous Integration and the Continuous Delivery.
Ansible vs Jenkins Is About Your DevOps Maturity
At the end of the day, this is the big question when comparing Ansible vs Jenkins. Jenkins is still a venerable tool. It could be integrated with just about anything. But at times, those integrations mean doing a lot of manual work. If something breaks, it’ll be up to you to diagnose and fix it. Ansible and Ansible Tower unleash a whole new world of integrations directly into your deployment process. They help you switch from a purely reactive process to one that anticipates problems and solves them before they affect someone. That is one of the longer-term objectives for most DevOps teams.
But that kind of power can only take you far away. It is true that Ansible gives you great insight into the state of your environment, and keeps it running smoothly. Your environment is not just servers and network connections. Your environment is also the code your team writes, and your users want. Ansible can ensure your services are set up correctly, but it cannot peer into your code at all.
Whatever tool you are using, the objective of DevOps is continuous improvement. That means proactively taking steps to make your environment and your software more robust. The question is what are you going to do that today?
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