Updated March 23, 2023
Difference Between Terraform and Ansible
Terraform vs Ansible is the most popular name that people who are in the DevOps world quiet often. Both are popular products which are configuration management tool (Ansible) and provisioning tool (Terraform). These tools will help us in deploying our code and other infrastructure quite easily in various repeatable environments that are having complex requirements to be met. Without these tools, this process was a lot of complex earlier.
Head to Head Comparison Between Terraform and Ansible (Infographics)
Below are the Top 5 comparison between Terraform vs Ansible:
Key Differences between Terraform and Ansible
Given are the key differences between Terraform vs Ansible:
Terraform is an open-source provisioning management tool which is also having a command-line interface and can provide any infrastructure with simple code even if it spans multiple service providers. Terraform, in definition terms, is an open-source tool that can be used for building, versioning and changing infrastructure quite efficiently and safely. Terraform offers such as flexibility that it can manage popular and existing service providers as well as custom -in house solutions. Your DNS can come from Cloudflare, and the server may from AWS and database, be any traditional RDBMS; terraform will build parallelly build all these resources across all providers. Terraform can manage low-level instances such as networking and storage and handle high-level instances such as DNS, SaaS, etc. This is written in HCL or HashiCorp Config Language, which is quite easy to learn and debug
Ansible is a very popular IT automation that can be used for configuration and deploying software, codes, and Orchester many more advanced IT tasks. Red Hat develops ansible in the year 2012, and it became instantly popular among organizations as it was written in dynamic programming, a language called Python, which is the catalyst in the fast deployment feature. Since ansible is built-in python and all Linux and Unix based systems already have python pre-installed, getting and running ansible on this platform is a lot easier. Ansible has many submodules that are popular and can support a huge number of integrations, such as Azure, AWS, etc. YAML is the syntax that is being adopted by the ansible to push the changes to different complex environments.
Terraform vs Ansible Comparison Table
Given below are the major comparison between Terraform vs Ansible:
|Terraform is completely declarative; in declarative, we declare what actually is needed, not the process by which the result can be achieved. While using the terraform, we will define the environment, and if the environment changes at a later time, it will be only applied to the next ‘Terraform Apply’. Here since declarative, the code always represents the present state of the infrastructure.||Ansible follows the procedural style with a step-by-step process to achieve the desired end and, unlike terraform, can accept the ad-hoc change queries. When we actually deal with the procedural type of tasks, the state of infrastructure is not completely considered. The reusability of procedural code is quite limited as the state is changing.|
|If we are using terraform to deploy machine images formed by the Docker or Packer, then “every change” is the deployment to the new server, just like the functional programming approach. This approach greatly reduces the risk of configuration bugs that is possible with the approach followed by the ansible. This allows easy traceback so that we can roll back quite easily in case of any issue. It is also possible for this configuration management tool to do force immutable deployment, but it is not advised.||Ansible is the tool that defaults to a mutable infrastructure paradigm. Over time, when we apply more and more, changes each of the servers builds a history of changes that leads to performance phenomena known as configuration drift, where each server becomes slightly different from the others leading to a few bugs, which can be few times nearly impossible to reproduce.|
|Terraform is a provisioning tool, and Cloud formation, puppet, etc., are few tools that consider the declarative form of code in their usage and suggest that they are designed to provision the server themselves. They also take care of other infrastructures, such as load balancer, database networking, etc. We should be aware that most provisioning tools will be capable of doing configuration management to some extent, and similarly, most of the configuration management tools cand also provision to some extent, but when we focus on a particular aspect, then some tools are obviously better fit than the other tool.||Ansible is one the configuration management tool and other similar tool includes chef, puppet, etc. The chef is one more tool that follows this sort of procedural approach.|
|Terraform is also masterless. Terraform communicates with the cloud providers using cloud providers API, so in some sense, it may look like API servers are master servers, except they don’t require any extra infrastructure or extra authentication mechanism.||Ansible is Masterless. Some tools like chefs, puppets require the master server to store the changes and distribute the updates, but there are some drawbacks such as extra security and infrastructure maintenance at cost.|
|Terraform as well does not require any extra agent to install. Some of them may require agents, but they are already with the package, and you don’t need to install any other supporting agents along.||Ansible does not require any extra agents to be installed on the server it is running. We just need to run SSH daemon, which is most common on most servers, and this does not come under agent.|
So we have seen the comparison between two of the famous tool where Ansible is primarily used for configuration management and terraform for Provision management. We can also use multiple tools together, like using terraform. We can deploy all the required infrastructure such as VPCs, Subnet, Router Tables, Load Balancers, etc. Then you can use them Ansible to deploy your applications on top of developed infrastructure.
This is a guide to the Terraform vs Ansible. Here we discuss the difference between Terraform vs Ansible, along with key differences, infographics, & a comparison table. You can also go through our other related articles to learn more–