Jenkins vs Ansible

You are now looking for the right solution for continuous integration, and both Jenkins and Ansible look like feasible options. However, before you take a wrong way, make sure that you read the comparisons between Jenkins vs Ansible below to understand their differences. The two are designed for different purposes.

Below, you can find out more about:
– What Jenkins and Ansible are,
– Their features and capabilities,
– Their limitations, and
– What they are best for.

What is Jenkins?
Jenkins is an automation server designed to automate some parts of a software development process, by facilitating the technical aspects of continuous delivery and continuous integration. You can use Jenkins to manage the “what-s” and “when-s” of your project.See also: Ansible vs Puppet.

According to Wikipedia, Jenkins is released under the MIT License and is free. It is written in Java. Since it is a server-based system, it needs to run in servlet containers, such as Apache Tomcat. It supports several version control tools, such as Git, CVS, Subversion, Mercurial, AccuRev, and Perforce. In addition, it can execute shell scripts, Windows batch commands, as well as Ant, Maven, and sbt based projects.

What is Ansible?
On the other hand, Ansible is designed to automate provisioning, configuration management, and deployment. Although some people think that Ansible can be used for continuous integration, its capabilities in this aspect are rather limited. It doesn’t poll Git repos and run builds that fail. It is more suitable for managing the “how-s” and “where-s” of your project.

Ansible is based on a ubiquitous Python language, but the CLI supports commands of almost all languages. It supports all major Linux distributions and most Unix-like operating systems. Just like most configuration management solutions, it has two server types, controlling machines and nodes. A controlling machine is responsible for managing one or more nodes through SSH.

When to Use Jenkins vs Ansible
You can use only Jenkins if your environment and deployment process are very straightforward. In Jenkins, builds can be triggered by various means, such as by a commit from a version control system, by scheduling, and by requesting a specified URL. You can create a custom script to perform the deployment as the final build step.

On the other hand, if you only need to deploy without having to build or test, Ansible alone is enough. For example, you can perform a deployment from the command line or Ansible Tower. This is especially great for managing small projects and static sites. You also need to use Ansible to deploy to cloud or virtualization environments, such as Amazon Web Services or VMware.

To manage a complex project, you may want to use both Jenkins and Ansible together. You use Jenkins for continuous integration, for building, testing, and saving artifacts. Then, you add a step to call Ansible, which will handle the actual deployment process and machine configuration.

Jenkins vs Ansible

- Designed for continuous integration and continuous delivery- Designed for provisioning, configuration management, and deployment
- Can execute scripts, commands, or projects as a final build step- Doesn’t poll Git repos and run builds that fail in a sane way
- Can’t deploy to cloud or virtualization environment- Able to deploy to cloud or virtualization environment
- Use Jenkins alone if your environment and deployment process are very straightforward- Use Ansible alone if you only need to deploy without having to build or test

For a continuous integration solution, Jenkins should be your choice. This automation server is specifically designed for the purpose, with the features and capabilities that you need. For handling a complex project or deployment to a cloud/virtualization environment, you may want to use both Jenkins and Ansible to manage the deployment process and machine configuration.

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