Kubernetes vs Docker: What’s the difference?

Community driven content discussing all aspects of software development from DevOps to design patterns. Despite its steep learning curve and configuration, Kubernetes provides superior horizontal scaling and supports a vast collection of plugins to extend its functionality. Also note while Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is based on Kubernetes, it is compatible with Docker tools, like Registry, Builder, and Docker Hub. Note that OpenShift Container Platform is Kubernetes-based, thus compatible with not only K8s but also most third-party tools that work with Kubernetes and other certified Kubernetes distributions.

Kubernetes vs. Docker

— Swarm has continued its upward journey just as Kubernetes has. Kubernetes networking can be integrated with VMware NSX-T by using the NSX Container Plugin. This integration allows you to use multi-tenant network topology that is not available “out of the box” in Kubernetes. Replication Controller is a component used to ensure that Pod replicas whose number is specified are always running at any given moment in time. Thus you can make sure that Pods are always available whenever you need them. Besides its feature-rich nature, it has built-in monitoring and a variety of integration options.

Windows CMD Commands: Mastering the Command Prompt

By grouping containers that make up an application into clusters, Kubernetes facilitates service discovery and enables management of high volumes of containers throughout their lifecycles. Docker has its own orchestration tool, Docker Swarm, but by far the most popular and robust option is Kubernetes. Engineers can use containers to quickly develop applications that run consistently across a large number of distributed systems and cross-platform environments. The portability of containers eliminates many of the conflicts that come from differences in tools and software between functional teams. Using Docker containers for distributed apps helps developers avoid compatibility issues when designing applications to work on multiple OSs. The lightweight nature of the containers also makes them a better choice than traditional virtual machines.

Kubernetes vs. Docker

It supports rolling updates too, letting you scale workloads without impacting availability. Swarm doesn’t include autoscaling but it does include load balancing out of the box using DNS . Inbuilt tools are provided by Kubernetes for logging and monitoring.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Kubernetes and Docker’s Swarm mode are two container orchestration tools that let you scale workload replicas across multiple physical machines. Although Kubernetes is the more popular choice, Docker Swarm has some unique benefits that are worth considering too. On the other hand, there are many more applications and components that are built for Kubernetes than for Swarm.

When it comes to dozens of related containers, this creates as much work as we had before containerized applications. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offers a number of services to accelerate and build modern cloud native applications. In particular, Container Engine for Kubernetes and Container Registry—which manage and analyze Docker images—are robust and free tools that streamline management and increase performance. See for yourself by trying Oracle Cloud for free to access Kubernetes. Kubernetes is an open-source platform for container orchestration.

Additionally, a container automatically uses the DNS settings of the host. Docker is used as a practical tool for packaging applications into lightweight and portable containers. Since a container consists of all the needed libraries and dependencies for a particular application, developers can easily pack, transfer, and run new app instances anywhere they like. Docker images represent templates of an application at a specific point in time.

  • The “scheduler” determines the placement of new containers so compute resources are used most efficiently.
  • Following the installation of Kubeflow, a machine learning toolkit for Kubernetes, businesses could compute tasks intended to take hours in just minutes.
  • Both Docker and Kubernetes are two of the leading tools used in the cloud computing industry.
  • For a deeper look into how to gain end-to-end observability into Kubernetes environments, tune into the on-demand webinar Harness the Power of Kubernetes Observability.
  • One such is to ensure that all the participating compute nodes are securely connected with one another.
  • Docker is a suite of tools for developers to build, share, run and orchestrate containerized apps.

The master node communicates with the worker nodes to ensure that the applications are running as intended. Kubernetes allows developers to manage and scale their applications in a more efficient way, without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. Making the application more scalable and making the infrastructure more robust are two best reasons for opting for multiple nodes. A collection of nodes managed by an individual Kubernetes instance is called a Kubernetes cluster. Docker is an open-source platform for application containers.

In short, it is the engine that runs the container—going back to the IKEA analogy, container runtimes are the assembly instructions inside the box. In some cases, this is simple, and execution management is handled within what is known as a low-level container runtime. For more complex situations, high-level container runtimes provide direction for API integration, image formats, and image management. In some cases, the term may be used interchangeably with Docker, though there’s a little more nuance to it than that. When demand surges, Kubernetes provides orchestration of Docker containers, scheduling and automatically deploying them across IT environments to ensure high availability.

Is Kubernetes vs Docker a Relevant Query?

Kubernetes, in contrast, is Google’s project which is used for deploying a cluster on which containers are running. Both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes provide high availability, load balancing, overlay networking, and scalability features. Docker Swarm is the easier of the two for deployment, as most of its features configuration is automated, and it consumes few hardware resources. Functionality is limited by Docker API, however, and native monitoring tools are missing.

In Kubernetes, kubectl, a powerful API and command-line tool, automates the bulk of container management tasks. However, it requires investment in its infrastructure, including plugins and support services. As an example, Kubernetes is sometimes referred to as an all-in-one containerization platform. Yet to build and maintain containerized apps in optimal health, you’ll need a robust system.

Kubernetes vs Docker Swarm: Which Should You Use?

You can configure one YAML Docker Compose configuration file to define multi-container applications instead of configuring manually separate Dockerfiles for each container. After configuring the single YAML file, you can run all needed containers with a single command in your Linux console. Using Docker Compose is one way to orchestrate your Docker containers, but there is a powerful alternative to Docker Compose available that is called Kubernetes.

Kubernetes vs. Docker

The YAML is “applied” to your cluster, typically using a CLI such as kubectl, then acted upon by the Kubernetes control plane running on the primary node. Like Kubernetes, a single Swarm manager https://globalcloudteam.com/ node is responsible for scheduling and monitoring containers. The manager can react to incidents in the cluster, such as a node going offline, and reschedule containers accordingly.

Elasticsearch and Kibana can be used to monitor the entire cluster state, while Heapster, Grafana, and Influx are supported for monitoring container services. Worker nodes are used for running containers whose tasks are assigned by Manager nodes. Each node can be configured as a Manager node, Worker node, or as both so as to perform both Manager and Worker node functions. If you use standalone Docker containers, each container can be considered as a basic unit that communicates via the network by using the appropriate network interface. If you are using Kubernetes, Pods are the basic units of the container cluster.

Under the hood of most serverless infrastructure, it’s running your functions in containers. Docker Swarm – Now maintained by Mirantis, this built-in feature of Docker Engine works great for many of my Docker students. It’s slow to progress on new features, yet plenty of businesses rely on it daily.

Docker Tools

Yet Docker and K8s enable developers to automate their CI/CD pipelines, adding features such as load balancing and storage orchestration. You can also create new Docker apps using a library of templates with Docker Template, a CLI plugin that offers a top-level template command. Templates come in two forms; service templates and application templates . Meanwhile, Docker uses multi-host networking, so you can choose an overlay network for your services. During initialization or updates, the Swarm Manager automatically assigns addresses to the containers in the network.

Kubernetes — and thus the idea of container orchestration — is no longer novel and has entered the “Trough of Disillusionment” phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle. The network model of Kubernetes is quite different and is implemented by using plugins, one of which is Flannel, the most popular option. Pods interact with each other, and this interaction can be restricted policies.


An orchestration platform has various mechanisms built in to prevent vulnerabilities such as secure container deployment pipelines, encrypted network traffic, secret stores and more. However, these mechanisms alone are not sufficient, but require a comprehensive DevSecOps approach. In small- to medium-sized deployments (and large-scale deployments when deployed with Kubernetes), Docker makes lightweight container images easy to build, deploy, and manage. Docker Swarm offers high availability as the services support replication in Swarm nodes. The Swarm manager nodes are responsible not only for managing the entire cluster but also the resources belonging to the worker nodes. Now, when you have Docker installed on several hosts i.e. operating systems, you can benefit from Kubernetes.

Founded in 2012 with an aim to deliver the best web hosting solution that’s crafted for unmatched speed, high security and 24×7 support. While Kubernetes focuses on all-in-one scaling based on traffic, Docker Swarm emphasizes rapid scaling. In addition, Docker Swarm works seamlessly with existing Docker tools, such as Docker Compose, as it is native to Docker. Large and complex workloads can be sustained and managed by it.

Check out how to get started with these Kubernetes tutorials and explore the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service to learn more. When used side-by-side, Docker and Kubernetes provide an efficient way to develop and run applications. Since Kubernetes was designed with Docker in mind, they work together seamlessly and complement each other. The input is then passed to containerd, the daemon that pulls the necessary images. Docker’s command-line interface helps users configure their containers with simple and intuitive commands. Kube-proxy, the network proxy element monitoring and maintaining network rules on the node.

Configuration and deployment

This not only enables Kubernetes to tolerate the failure of application instances but also offers a high degree of availability. First released in June 2014, Kubernetes was originally developed by Google. The further development and maintenance of the open-source container orchestration system is the responsibility of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

It can be challenging to collect, visualize, and derive actionable cost intelligence from containerized architecture, regardless of whether you use OpenShift, Kubernetes, or Docker. The three platforms support monitoring, but most cost tools do not provide detailed insights, such as cost per customer what is kubernetes or cost per environment, only total and average costs. Kubernetes coordinates the resources allocated to it on your behalf. Kubernetes controllers ensure applications and containers run as specified. This frees your engineers to focus on writing and improving code — not the infrastructure beneath it.

In scenarios where the platform needs to be switched, YAML commands and definitions are required to be rewritten. Docker Swarm comes with Docker Compose that helps in installing the application. In order to identify multi-container, Docker Swarm has YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language) files. In the end, it’s a question of what combination of tools your team needs to accomplish its business goals.

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