Puppet vs Docker

Puppet and Docker are primarily configuration management tools. They both are loved by many people due to their ease of use. However, they do have distinctive pros and cons, and these differences make them more suitable for different needs. In this article, we will see the comparisons of Puppet vs Docker to help you choose the most suitable solution.

Continue reading below to find out more about:
– What are Puppet and Docker,
– The distinctive features and strengths of Puppet and Docker,
– The possible weaknesses of Puppet and Docker, and
– Which configuration management tool that is more recommended.

Puppet is an open-source tool for software configuration management. It can run on most Unix-like systems, including many Windows versions and Linux distros. To describe system configuration, it uses its own declarative language. See also: Ansible vs Puppet.

Puppet is especially appealing for operations teams with very little or no development background. Puppet is highly mature. But if you use the Puppet Master state server to keep track of your infrastructure, it may have some trouble to scale past 1000 configured machines. It can be extended using the Ruby programming language, but this is not easy. You can download Puppet here.

On the other hand, Docker is actually a computer program which performs OS-level virtualization. This is also known as containerization. It is primarily developed for Linux platforms, as it uses the Linux kernel’s resource isolation features such as cgroups, kernel namespaces, and a union-capable file system to allow independent containers on a single Linux instance. Such design avoids the overhead of starting/maintaining multiple virtual machines.

When comparing Docker to Puppet, you may think Docker as a way to package your codes into consistent work units. Then, these work units can be deployed for testing, quality assurance, and production environments very easily. While most configuration management tools have difficulties in configuring hardware resources and virtual machines, Docker only needs to express the configuration in a single process, making thins so much easier.

Pros and Cons of Puppet
As mentioned above, Puppet is suitable for people with little to no programming knowledge. It is simple and easy to deploy. It is also easy to use, and it is fast when making small changes. It can work with most existing servers (Windows and Linux platforms), and it has a standardized API which can install packages on any compatible platform. Finally, it has a strong community which supports modules and other users.

However, Puppet is not suitable for large and complex infrastructures. On Puppet, conditional module dependencies can easily lead to spaghetti code. In addition, Puppet is rather heavier to run.

Pros and Cons of Docker
Docker is also very easy to learn. Some people even say that Docker is even easier to learn than Puppet. Nevertheless, there are two big advantages of Docker. First, Docker can spin up an instance very quickly. Docker can manage hardware resources and virtual environments easily. Second, with Docker, you can easily ensure zero downtime.

However, there are also several weaknesses of Docker. First, a container has a 10GB limit if you use the device mapper backend, whereas a small container still has a few hundreds overhead. Second, the performance is rather slow, and it may take very long to rebuild a container just for small configuration changes.

Third, it may cost some money for a registry, as the self-hosted registry is very buggy and has no GUI. Fourth, it is not compatible with Windows or other operating systems, and apps that require subshells can become very tricky to run properly.

Puppet vs Docker

- Open-source tool for software configuration management- Tool for containerization that can package codes into work units
- Easy to learn and deploy- Even easier to learn
- Relatively more difficult to manage hardware resources and VMs- Easier to manage hardware resources and VMs
- Good performance, but difficult to scale past 1000 machines- Performance is not very fast, small containers have big overheads

Between Puppet vs Dockers, we recommend you to choose Puppet. This configuration management tool is more mature and generally more reliable. On the other hand, Docker is nice because of the easy virtualization, but it has a number of disadvantages for configuration management.

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