Puppet Vs Chef: Detailed Side-by-Side Comparison

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There is a wide range of technologies available for DevOps, a design philosophy that mixes software development and IT operations. Two of the most well-known DevOps technologies are Chef and Puppet, but the crucial issue is: which option is best for DevOps to use for configuration management such as deployment, server management, and IT automation?

Automation has made this possible. An unattended installation medium, a shell script that sets the necessary values, or maybe a version-controlled directory have all been examples of this automation. Whatever approach you go with, creating such solutions typically requires a lot of work. A complex IT environment only adds to the challenges. Engineers eventually became tired of all the flaws, and this was when configuration managers took control.

Understanding Puppet and Chef

We aim to aid DevOps designers in making an informed choice. For that purpose, we offer the following article, which compares and contrasts the two configuration management tools.

Introduction To Puppet

Puppet is an open-source system management tool for centralized and automated configuration management. It has a built-in declarative language for describing system settings.

Although Puppet does not offer official open-source packages or perform automated testing, you can use it with the following systems and their prerequisites:

Linux Enterprise Server, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Microsoft Windows (Server OS), Microsoft Windows (Consumer OS) 10 Enterprise 8, 10, macOS 10.12 and 10.13 Sierra.

Introduction To Chef

Chef is also an open-source cloud configuration that converts system management tasks into transformable definitions, otherwise known as cookbooks and recipes, hence its name. It makes it possible to automate numerous manual procedures and transform infrastructure into code. Chef makes it easier to manage and configure a company’s servers effectively.

Chef supports a wide range of operating systems, including business Linux distributions, FreeBSD, Nexus, AIX, Cisco IO, Solaris, and Windows. Additionally, Chef is compatible with cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), OpenStack, IBM Bluemix, HPE Cloud, Microsoft Azure, VMware vRealize Automation, and Rackspace, which are some examples of cloud computing platforms.

Architecture of Puppet and Chef

Structure of Puppet

The core server environment (shown above) and the client environment make up the Puppet environment. There is a Puppet master store on the primary server environment where all configuration files are kept.

  • Manifests: are the actual base codes for configuring the clients
  • Templates: combine code and data to produce a final document 
  • Files: are the static content that can be downloaded by the clients
  • Modules: made up of manifests, templates, and files
  • Certificate Authority: allows the master to sign the certificates deployed by the client

The Puppet client is the computer in need of configuration, which consists of Agent and Facter. To make sure that the certificates are updated properly, the agent communicates with the master server continuously. The facter gathers the usage’s current condition of the client and relays it to the user via the agent.

Structure of Chef

The workstation, the server, and the nodes are the three essential parts of Chef.

The workstation is the system where the admin sits. The Ruby-written code that the system generates for setting and administering the infrastructure is known as a recipe. Cookbooks are collections of numerous recipes. The Knife command line uploads the cookbooks to the server.

The cookbooks are kept on the second component, the server, which acts as a go-between between the workstation and the nodes. The server, which can be hosted locally or remotely, offers the capabilities necessary to control the node configurations.

The nodes, or the systems that need configuration, are the last component. There may be a number of nodes in a Chef design that are in charge of gathering all the data regarding the node states at any given time. The server will next compare this data to the configuration files and determine whether any new setup is necessary.

These nodes house the Chef client service, which is in charge of handling all contacts with the server. The shift line is in charge of informing the server whenever the node has a need for a recipe.

Contrast Between Puppet and Chef

How do these tools compare now that we know where each one is coming from? Which of them, if any, is more similar to you or distinct from you?

We will determine the solutions by classifying the tools according to the following crucial traits:

  • Terminology and Concepts: Because configuration managers abstract configuration files, it’s critical to become familiar with the lingo specific to each tool. While Puppet uses manifests and modules, the chef requires you to deal with cookbooks and recipes. Manifests and recipes typically represent a single notion, whereas cookbooks and recipes generally describe a broader range of concepts.
  • Business Cost: Chef Automate costs $250 per node per year, which covers all of your building and deployment needs. Puppet Enterprise is available for ten nodes of free testing. Prices for the standard plan start at $100 per node/year for the standard support plan and go as high as $199 per node/year when you bundle in the premium support plan.
  • Accessibility: In this sense, accessibility refers to how the tools are usable amid unplanned service disruptions. A backup server picks up the slack if Chef’s main server crashes. Puppet uses a multi-master architecture, so another master can take over if the active master goes down.

Similarities Between Puppet and Chef

There goes the difference. What features do these two instruments share?

  • Language: Puppet uses the previously described PuppetDSL, another challenging language. Chef’s configuration language is the developer-oriented, difficult-to-learn Ruby DSL (Domain Specific Language). 
  • Setup: A master-agent architecture configuration is also used by puppet. On the master system, the Puppet server is running, and on each client machine, an agent is running the Puppet clients. Additionally, a signing of the agent-master certificate follows. Chef uses a master-client architecture, where the server is installed on the master computer, and the client is installed as an agent on each client computer. The “Workstation” component, which is also a part of Chef, manages all of the configurations that are tested by saving them and then pushing them to the main server.
  • Scalability: Chef and Puppet are both fairly simple to scale. If the user supplies the IP address and hostname of the nodes, they can both manage huge infrastructure. The tools will handle the rest.

Highs and Lows of Puppet and Chef

Let’s look at an example of Puppet vs. Chef’s benefits and drawbacks in order to provide a clear, concise image.

Benefits:

Puppet

  • Whole user interface
  • Dependable reporting abilities
  • Provides access to a reputable support network

Chef

  • Due to its code-driven methodology, configurations are more flexible and under your control.
  • Using the “Knife” tool makes installation easier.
  • Gives you access to a large number of configuration and module recipes
Drawbacks:

Puppet

  • Reduced support for earlier Ruby versions is currently being implemented.
  • Compared to code-driven techniques, its model-driven approach gives up less control.
  • Advanced activities require CLI, and because it is based on Ruby, you must be comfortable with that language.

Chef 

  • Not compatible with push functionality
  • If you don’t already know Ruby and procedural code, prepare yourself for a challenging learning curve.
  • It’s an intricate tool.

Conclusion

Puppet is the more established of the two systems. In essence, this means improved stability and support. Additionally, it might be simpler to locate experts in it. There are also some drawbacks. For those whose primary job is coding, some adjustments may be necessary to the declarative language.

Chef, the more recent project, might feel a little more “contemporary.” It scales well and needs less traditional infrastructure. However, its key distinction has a cost. Be cautious that its freestyle imperative approach may result in codeo coding that is of poor quality.

The best DevOps tool ultimately depends on the requirements and objectives of your company. The ultimate choice comes down to determining what’s crucial for your business.


Ejiro is a technical writer on Devops with advanced knowledge of open source technologies, automation/integration, as well as testing and its tools.


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