Ansible or Puppet: How to Make the Right Choice for Your IT Automation Needs

Managing servers in DevOps environments can be challenging, but it is essential for maintaining the performance and user experience.

Configuration, provisioning, and deployment are all critical tasks, and fortunately, there are powerful tools available to aid in these efforts. Two of the most widely used DevOps tools are Ansible and Puppet.

Both tools provide similar functions, but they are better suited for different tasks and environments.

A Brief History

Ansible and Puppet, have been introduced. GB Advisors says configuration management is “a vital process,” and C2S Consulting Group says CM “is imperative in the DevOps model to support continuous integration.”

CM tools allow an admin to execute tasks on several servers at the same time as well as deploy multiple apps with just one click.


Puppet, developed by Oregon-based software development company Puppet, founded by Luke Kanies, has been around since 2005 and is considered the leading player in the configuration management (CM) market with the largest market share.

It is open-source, written in Ruby, and runs on all major operating systems: Linux, Unix, Mac OS, and Windows. Many big-name companies, such as Oracle and Google, use Puppet to manage their data servers.

A commercial version, Puppet Enterprise, is also available through PuppetLabs, which includes professional support. However, some users have reported that PuppetLabs is too aggressive in pushing companies to buy the enterprise version, and that Puppet is slow to implement requested changes and new features.


Ansible, introduced in 2012 by AnsibleWorks, now owned by Red Hat, has a much smaller market share than Puppet. It is open-source and also has an enterprise version, Ansible Tower.

Unlike Puppet, it is written in Python and is designed to be lightweight and have fast deployment. Since Python is built into most Unix and Linux systems, it can be set up quickly and its agentless nature adds to the ease of setup and use.

The CLI accepts commands in almost any language which is a big advantage. Ansible includes hundreds of modules to support a wide range of integrations,

Features Comparison

Feature Ansible Puppet
Fully featured graphical interface No Yes
Extensible in any language that supports JSON Yes No
Basic version is free to use Yes Yes
Simple YAML language Yes No
Pre-made official integrations and community modules Yes Yes

Apple to Apple Comparison

To see a closer look of both differences and similarity, let’s see the explanation below.

Ansible or Puppet: Easy Installation

Both Ansible and Puppet offer relatively easy setup and installation. However, Ansible stands out for its simplicity and ease of use. This is primarily due to its use of YAML and agentless architecture.

With Ansible, installation is required on only one server, and it provides straightforward playbooks written in simple language.

Puppet, on the other hand, requires installation on the main servers and all target servers, and each target node needs to be approved. This makes the installation process slightly more involved than Ansible.

Ansible or Puppet: GUI and Dashboard

Both Ansible and Puppet offer a graphical user interface (GUI) and dashboard capabilities, but Puppet excels in this area. Ansible primarily operates through a command-line interface, and its GUI is limited in functionality, only suitable for basic tasks.

In contrast, Puppet offers a more comprehensive and integrated GUI and dashboard, allowing users to access all functions.

Ansible or Puppet: Extensibility

Both Ansible and Puppet offer a high degree of extensibility. Ansible users can work in any programming language that supports JSON, in addition to the standard YAML, making it easier to create customized modules and configurations.

On the other hand, Puppet requires the use of Python, which may be a barrier for some users, and it uses its own configuration language called PuppetDSL, which also has a steeper learning curve.

In terms of ease and simplicity, Ansible is the winner when it comes to extensibility. While Puppet is equally capable, it requires specific languages and has fewer options to achieve the same results.

Ansible or Puppet: Management and Scheduling

Ansible and Puppet differ in how they manage configurations, with Puppet using a pull method and Ansible using a push method.

Additionally, Puppet requires the use of its own language for configurations, while Ansible uses YAML, which is similar to English.

Scheduling capabilities also differ, with the default setting of Puppet Agent checking nodes every 30 minutes, while the free version of Ansible does not include scheduling and requires the use of Ansible Tower for that functionality.

Ansible or Puppet: Availability

Ansible is a simple, easy-to-use automation tool that uses an agentless architecture. It uses a push-based model, where commands are sent from a central control machine to the remote machines, and it does not require any software to be installed on the remote machines.

Ansible uses a simple, human-readable language called YAML to define automation tasks, which makes it easy to learn and use.

Puppet, on the other hand, uses a pull-based model, where the remote machines periodically check in with a central server to see if there are any updates or changes that need to be made.

Puppet uses its own domain-specific language (DSL) to define automation tasks, which is more complex than Ansible’s YAML. Puppet requires an agent to be installed on each remote machine, which communicates with the central server.

The availability of the tools depends on the region, company or organization. Some companies may use Ansible, while others may use Puppet or a combination of both, depending on their specific needs and requirements.

Ansible or Puppet: Modules

Puppet Forge is a repository or library for Puppet, while Ansible has a similar resource called Ansible Galaxy. The Forge has a vast collection of almost 6,000 modules, and these modules can be marked as approved or supported by Puppet.

This allows users to easily identify modules that have been tested and proven to work, saving time and effort. On the other hand, Ansible Galaxy does not have this feature, so users may need to spend more time and effort manually testing and modifying modules.

Ansible or Puppet: GUI

Puppet has a more advanced graphical user interface (GUI) compared to Ansible.

The GUI is used for viewing, managing, and monitoring tasks, but for more complex operations, users may need to use the command-line interface (CLI), which is based on Ruby. On the other hand, Ansible was initially a command-line-only tool.

However, now it provides a UI in its enterprise version, but it is not as comprehensive as Puppet’s. The GUI in Ansible may not always be in sync with the command line, and it may have limitations in comparison to the command-line interface.

Leave a Comment