Understanding Ansible, AWX, and Ansible Automation Platform

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How to make the best choice for your organization

When considering whether to use free, unsupported community Ansible® or the subscription-based, supported enterprise product, Red Hat® Ansible Automation Platform, it’s important to know the differences between the solutions—and the benefits each offers.

Many organizations start their automation journey with unsupported community Ansible. However, as needs evolve and the organization matures, they often require a supported enterprise solution and move to Ansible Automation Platform.

It's important to consider the benefits of a supported enterprise product if you:

  • Require enhanced security.
  • Are embarking on an IT transformation initiative.
  • Are ready to expand automation to include more people, teams, and use cases.
  • Need flexibility to adapt to changing business requirements—with proven, innovative solutions.
  • Want to prioritize automation objectives over managing automation infrastructure.

Defining community (or free) Ansible, AWX, and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Ansible community icon

Community Ansible

Free, unsupported open source command line tool for automation.

AWX logo


Free, unsupported open source software. A GUI and API tool for wrapping around community Ansible.

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform icon

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Subscription enterprise product. Combines 20+ community projects into a fully supported automation platform for your enterprise.

Ansible Tower is now called automation controller and is a component of Ansible Automation Platform.

Which Ansible option is right for my organization?

Community command-line Ansible can be appropriate for individuals who need automation for individual workloads—or who want to run automation for home labs. For groups who want to collaborate on automation efforts, AWX or Ansible Automation Platform offer additional options.

Most organizations do not use AWX to manage production systems as it is an unsupported, upstream open source project. AWX does not include service-level agreement (SLA) guarantees on security vulnerabilities, independent software vendor (ISV) compatibility, or supported upgrade migrations between versions. And even though AWX is free, organizations should be aware of hidden costs that result from security breaches and time-consuming fixes. However, AWX can be useful for small lab use, for developers who contribute to the upstream code, or as a sandbox for developers to become comfortable with automation controller before moving to Ansible Automation Platform for enterprise use.

When teams want to scale automation objectives at an organizational level, Ansible Automation Platform is a better choice given its support for developer tooling, flexible deployment options across multiple datacenters and cloud and edge locations, and guaranteed SLA support for compatibility, upgrades, and security vulnerabilities. You can also scale automation spend more efficiently and transparently with an enterprise solution. Ansible Automation Platform provides a more comprehensive solution for larger organizations with more complex automation needs.

Enhance automation security with Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Ansible Content Collections. Video duration: 4:59.

What’s the difference between Ansible and Ansible Automation Platform?

When your business needs these capabilities, it’s time to consider Ansible Automation Platform.

Community Ansible and AWX logos
Community Ansible and AWX
Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform icon
Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform


Not available

Trusted chain-of-custody for certified and private content. Security hardened with support, performance testing, bug fixes, and other standardized practices—for a more consistent and less vulnerable enterprise environment.

Certified content and partner ecosystem

Not available

140+ certified content collections across 60+ partners. Benefit from pre-built, fully supported, and certified automation content from Red Hat and our partners.

Life cycle support

Not available

At least 18 months of enterprise support per release. Critical bugfix and security vulnerability backporting for all components.

Legal protections

No protections

Intellectual property protections via the Open Source Assurance Agreement.


Not available

Automation analytics and Red Hat Insights for Ansible Automation Platform offer in-depth analytics and reporting for planning and tracking performance and adoption.

Upgrades and migrations

Not supported

Supported migration to major releases as well as upgrades to minor releases.

Training and consulting

Not available

Expert resources to help you build and run a successful automation practice, backed by robust training offerings and support. Hands-on migration assistance from AWX to Ansible Automation Platform is also available.

Cloud deployment options

Not available

Managed and self-managed applications available to deploy on your cloud of choice, including Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. Counts toward committed spend agreements. Supported by Red Hat with integrated billing. View deployment options and pricing information.

Event-Driven Ansible

Separate upstream project that requires manual integration into your environment

Event-Driven Ansible is an integrated and tested product component of Ansible Automation Platform that reduces manual tasks, delivers more efficient IT operations, and frees your teams to focus on innovation.

Private automation hub

Separate upstream project that requires manual integration into your environment

Private automation hub is an integrated and tested product component of Ansible Automation Platform.

Red Hat Ansible Lightspeed with IBM watsonx Code Assistant

Integrated generative AI tooling

Ansible Lightspeed with watsonx Code Assistant is a generative AI service that produces code recommendations built on Ansible best practices. It is included with an Ansible Automation Platform subscription, but requires purchase of IBM watsonx Code Assistant to activate all features.

What should I consider when choosing an IT automation solution?

What is your team’s main area of focus: automation initiatives or automation infrastructure?

Organizations often try to do more work with the same number of people. Automation is a way to solve this challenge. However, if you’re simultaneously trying to stand-up, test, and manage community infrastructure, your automation objectives may falter. When deciding between community Ansible and Ansible Automation Platform, start by evaluating your team’s ability to effectively manage disperate community tools—and their desire to contribute to and understand open source development models. 

In addition, Ansible Automation Platform includes Event-Driven Ansible, which reduces manual efforts by connecting sources of events with corresponding actions via rules. You design rulebooks and Event-Driven Ansible recognizes the specified event, matches it with the appropriate action, and automatically executes it. It helps your teams stay focused on high-value work.

Does your team actively contribute to the Ansible project and understand how to incorporate changes upstream?

If your team wants to get involved with the community and shape the Ansible project or share ideas, visit www.ansible.com/community. You can learn more about becoming a contributor and explore the different personas that make up the vibrant Ansible community. Your input is what helps the community grow, and it is directly incorporated into the product. 

Some people use Ansible Automation Platform and also contribute to community projects. They benefit from a fully supported platform while also staying current on the upstream projects. 

Does your team consist of developers or IT operators? What is their expertise?

Determining your team’s area of focus is key to choosing the right automation tool—and adopting the tool successfully. 

Are you focusing on multi-datacenter automation infrastructure (servers, applications, and network and security infrastructure), managing a cloud platform (public, private, and hybrid clouds), or creating complex  automation objectives (such as automating IT operations, tiered deployments, and edge environments)? If yes, Ansible Automation Platform is the best choice for your organization.

Does your team have skills in programming Python and Go, understand development methods for Swagger/OpenAPI, and know how to perform GitHub pull requests? If yes, then you could use and contribute to Ansible’s many community projects, such as AWX. 

And your team might want to use the platform while also contributing to community projects. Community contributions are included in product updates, and your continued contributions to upstream will impact your experience with the platform.

How do you test patching and upgrades so you don’t impact daily operations?

When considering automation solutions, most customers seek out a platform that will allow for in-place upgrades and the ability to test releases without affecting functionality.  

Ansible Automation Platform provides these capabilities and more by including guaranteed upgrades, migration paths, and environments for isolated testing. In contrast, AWX users are responsible for upgrades and maintenance of AWX infrastructure.

Are you retaining the talent needed to execute your automation strategy? And are you prepared if key experts leave your company?

Many organizations using AWX have a limited number of employees—sometimes just a single person—with the skills to manage the software. If this institutional knowledge leaves your organization, it can put your business operations at risk. 

With an enterprise solution, you gain support—reducing the risk of all of your automation knowledge being tied to a small team or individual. You also gain the possibility for career growth for your team. Training opportunities help employees boost their skills and gain certifications, furthering their development and career potential. For managers, this incentive can help retain top talent.

Customer success story

Learn about Ulta Beauty's journey with Ansible Automation Platform—and why they switched to the supported enterprise product.

Video duration: 1:16.

The value of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Consider the proven enterprise solution. Ansible Automation Platform is trusted by more than 3,000 global customers across every industry to create, manage, and scale IT automation. It is a comprehensive, integrated solution that delivers open source innovation, hardened for your enterprise–so you can boost productivity and reduce time-to-completion for new projects.

Economic benefits of Ansible Automation Platform vs. DIY automation

Faster time-to-automation capabilities, reduced operational complexity, and lower organizational risk than with do-it-yourself (DIY) automation.


faster time to initial automation capabilities 


more automation managed by 44% fewer resources


more saving


in additional savings and benefits


5-year ROI

Source: Kaufmann, Aviv. “The economic benefits of the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform versus DIY automation.” Enterprise Strategy Group, sponsored by Red Hat, June 2023.

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