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Difference Between Kubernetes and Docker

Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are two popular containerization platforms today. So, before you feel proud of them, let us first discuss both of the platforms in brief and how they work actually. To understand both platforms deeply, this blog will focus on different performance and usability parameters to compare the two. Once you will go through this blog, this will be easy to decide which platform should you opt for and why?

Difference Between Kubernetes and Docker

Obviously, we will not discuss the basics of Kubernetes and Docker Swarm here, as they are discussed already in previous blogs. If you wanted to know “What is Docker” and “What is Kubernetes”, you can read already published blogs on our website. First, check the differences between two compiled briefly in a table then we will discuss on each comparison parameter in detail one by one throughout the blog. Difference Between Kubernetes and Docker infographic

Kubernetes vs. Docker Swarm – Comparison at a Glance

Comparison Parameters Kubernetes Docker Swarm
Installation and Cluster configurations Installation is little tough but once completed cluster design is stronger Installation is quite simpler but the cluster is not as strong as Kubernetes.
Graphical User Interface Available No GUI
Scalability Scalable but to a limited speed Highly scalable and five times faster than Kubernetes.
Auto-scaling Available Not available
Load Balancing Can be done manually. Load balancing is automated in case of Docker.
Updates and Rollbacks Provides both features rolling updates and rollbacks Provides rolling updates but does not support rollbacks.
Data Volumes Shares data within container only. It can share data stored on other devices too.
Monitoring and Logging There are in-built tools for monitoring and logging. Need to use third party tools like ELK for monitoring and Logging.
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Kubernetes vs. Docker Swarm – Detailed study of all listed features

Please don’t confuse between two words Docker Swarm and Docker here. Docker is just a containerization tool while Docker Swarm is a container orchestration tool and Kubernetes is also a container orchestration tool, so the comparison between two makes sense in the blog. Here is a list of different performance and usability comparison parameters that will be discussed in the rest of the blog in detail –

  • Installation and Cluster configurations
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Scalability
  • Auto-scaling
  • Load Balancing
  • Updates and Rollbacks
  • Data Volumes
  • Monitoring and Logging

Let us dive deep and discuss on each of the parameters in detail one by one. With this discussion, you would be able to decide quickly who is winner and why?

All the best and happy learning!

1). Installation and Cluster configurations

Setting up a cluster in Docker Swarm is a matter of minutes that can be completed within two commands only. One command should be executed at the end of Manager and the second command will be executed at the end of a worker. Trust me, it takes that much effort only. After setting up the cluster, you can quickly start working on deployment part.

Read: Difference Between Graylog, Elk Stack, Kibana, Logstash And Splunk

At the same time, setting up a cluster in Kubernetes is not that much simple as it was done in the Docker Swarm. You need to run several commands to set up a cluster in the front, first of all, define the environment then define the Pod network so that containers could interact together then put it on the dashboard and at the end your cluster will be hosted successfully.

2). Graphical User Interface

A GUI is basically a dashboard where all operations can be performed effortlessly. It helps to set up, configure and hosting a cluster successfully without putting many efforts. There is no technical proficiency required. With the basic understanding and a set of instructions, you can work continuously even if you belong to any other background.

In the case of Docker Swarm, there is no GUI or dashboard as of now. This is a sad update but you have to wait for a little more to avail this facility.

3). Scalability

Scaling up a number of containers is the eventual need for any organization either they are working on a small scale or they are working on a larger scale. Here, both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are proven candidates that help in scaling containers faster. As we discussed already, Kubernetes are slightly better at maintaining the strength of cluster as compared to the Docker Swarm.

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On the other hand, Docker swarm is five times faster when compared to the Kubernetes. So, there is a tough battle between the two in terms of scalability and neither wins. The choice is completely up to you either you prefer strength or performance more. I prefer stability than agility in scaling and Kubernetes is my winner here.

4). Auto-Scaling

In this case, Kubernetes wins the race definitely because of enough capability of managing and analyzing the server loads base on project requirements. The best part is that there is no need to put any manual efforts and it is a big help for developers. On the other hand, Docker Swarm is not a confident candidate here and does not provide good support for auto-scaling.

Read: How can Convergence Impact and Accelerate the DevOps Operations?

5). Load Balancing

Kubernetes is not a recommended choice here in case of the load balancing. Most of the times, you have to configure the load balancing setting manually. A number of containers are connected together and they will act as the single pod only. Further, you have the option to define each of the services as the group of pods. Now how can you allow these pods to communicate together so that they could be made quickly discoverable? Here you can see that the service is suitable for the discovery bot for the IP address, so this is a challenging situation.

If we are talking about the Docker Swarm then load balancing is much simpler than your expectations. Here, you don’t have to deal with pods at all and all the containers are made discoverable at a single point only with the complete network IP address. All of these things happen automatically when nodes are well connected and free to communicate together.

6). Updates and Rollbacks

Again, Kubernetes is the winner in case of rolling updates and the rollbacks. Docker Swarm also supports the concept of rolling updates in case of containers. Kubernetes perform the concept of rolling updates to pods only as a whole while Swarm performs the updates on containers straight away only. If you are not sure what is rolling update share then read this. Rolling updates is the simple process of deploying gradually and progressively to the existing apps hosted in containers.

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On the other hand, Docker Swarm performs rollbacks automatically. If anything goes wrong in deploying updates, both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm provides rollbacks scheme where you can undo the changes as per requirements. If you are interested in auto rollbacks then only Kubernetes can help you in this case. Even you don’t have to worry about failures too because it closely monitors the updates and deployments from time to time.

7). Data Volumes

With the help of Kubernetes, you are allowed to share the storage volumes across multiple containers within pods. At the same time, Docker Swarm allows you to share storage volumes with other containers too. Again, Kubernetes wins the race here where you can mount the storage space locally either on public or private clouds like AWS, NFS, and GCP or more.

8). Monitoring and Logging

In the case of Kubernetes, there are a plenty of built-in tools to perform monitoring and logging. Logging helps you to analyze the log and understand the problem deeply that can happen in the case of failure. At the same time, monitoring is the process that helps to constantly measure the health status of nodes and services containerized by them. So, the complete process is managed internally and easy to use as well. However, Docker Swarm completes the process with the help of third-party tools like ELK or more.

Read: What Is Kubernetes? An Introduction to Container Orchestration Tools


So, we have discussed the all relevant comparison parameters here in this blog. You should keep each of the aspects in mind before you reach the final decision. In my opinion, the Kubernetes is surely a winning candidate when compared to another similar tool Docker Swarm. Still, the choice completely depends on you and the project requirements which one you want to use and why. But don’t forget to go through this blog before you take the decision.

To know more on Docker and Kubernetes and why they are so popular in the IT marketplace, join DevOps certification program at JanBask Training and start your learning immediately.

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