Ansible and Chef: Which configuration management solution is better?

IT Central Station users review two top configuration management solutions: Ansible and Chef.

Configuration management solutions are becoming increasingly vital for businesses to consider using. It has never been more important for businesses to be able to configure their IT resources to ensure that they are well known and offer the right level of access or security. However, choosing the right solution isn't easy - every business is different, and there is no ‘one size fits all' solution.

Over 388,000 professionals have used IT Central Station research to inform their purchasing decisions. Its latest paper looks at Ansible and Chef, two of the highest reviewed solutions in the configuration management market.

Below is a brief summary of the report, highlighting what real IT Central Station users think of each solution - from their most valuable features, to how they've improved individual businesses, as well as what each solution could do better.


Allows you to deploy multi-tier applications reliably and consistently, all from one common framework.

With an average rating of 8.5 from 23 reviews, Ansible is a highly regarded solution in the configuration management market. Popular throughout a range of industries, it sees use within healthcare, financial services, and comms services whilst catering to organisations of all sizes. Larger companies with over 1000 employees make up 65% of users, with mid-size companies accounting for 9%, and 26% of companies having less than 200 employees.

Ansible's advocates discuss how easy the solution is to use and appreciate that it allows them to control multiple systems and push out updates quickly with just a couple of clicks. It also offers a check mode which users like using to verify that the configuration placed is actually what was intended. Despite these features, when discussing the solution, critics pick out a few that could be improved. Some users believe the documentation could be improved, claiming that the best practice recommendations don't give the necessary information required to make it a success. Besides this, the solution also suffers from accessibility issues and a sub-par user interface.


A single path to production makes it faster and safer to add value to applications and meet customer demand

Achieving an average rating of 8.5 from 13 reviews, Chef is an excellent choice when considering a configuration management solution. Of interest to multiple industries, Chef appeals particularly to companies operating within software R&D, comms services, and government. Like Ansible, Chef intrigues businesses of all sizes, with 60% of reviewers claiming to have larger workforces, 27% running mid-size organisations, and 13% claiming to have less than 200 employees.

Plaudits of the solution praise its automation features which allow it to more or less run itself without the need for constant vigilance. It has also helped users to easily handle thousands of servers at the same time, without time constraints. However, where the solution falters slightly is its security, with reviewers wanting more features offering real protection. Others would prefer that the solution improve its software so that it can support Docker containers.