Docker vs. Kubernetes: Differences That Matters

A3Logics 22 Aug 2022


It is a virtual world and containers are something that has gone quite popular with its several advantages over virtual machines. Containerization is an evolution of virtualization and works as a single server that can host many containers. Containerization allows applications to run in isolated form from the rest of the system. It is well suited for enterprise software development companies offering DevOps services to quickly develop applications that run across a large number of software environments. It can be called the first step in the modernization of applications and their movement to the cloud.

There are a lot of technologies available to use containers in managing an application. The number of times, we have called the name of cloud computing and its container technologies, Kubernetes versus Docker is a topic that has been raised multiple times. These both are different and excel in their respective areas though once they are combined, it becomes powerful and complements each other. Let us discuss in detail about these technologies.

What is Kubernetes?


It is an open-source container management tool and controls how and where those containers will run. It was introduced by Google in 2014. Container orchestration is the key responsibility that allows it to run on virtual machines. It mainly focuses on the starting point and makes sure that the production containers are running well. Kubernetes provides unlimited possibilities and automation of deployment, scaling, and availability of applications running in containers. Node and pod, these are two concepts of the Kubernetes cluster. It facilitates users to run containers across multiple compute nodes. There are many cloud computing service providers that offer their own branded Kubernetes distributions to the clients.

What is Docker?


Docker is a lightweight open-source containerization technology that automates the deployment of applications in containers. Majorly, it is being used now to create and run Linux containers. It is portable and thus provides the feasibility to run in each container across any desktop or data center. Multi-Docker applications can be run on a single platform, also it can run without Kubernetes.

Docker is a containerization platform while its container orchestration platform is Docker Swarm. It is the native clustering tool for Docker. It helps in managing a cluster of Docker nodes as a single virtual system.

Docker vs. Kubernetes: What are the differences?


  • A fundamental difference is that Docker runs on a single node while Kubernetes runs around the cluster. It coordinates clusters of nodes and thus is more extensive in comparison to Docker.
  • Kubernetes utilizes pods, which are its basic operational unit. Pods are a collection of related Docker containers that need to coexist. Docker uses clusters which is a group of machines set together.
  • Installation is quicker and easier for Docker Swarm just like a snap of fingers as it just requires two commands while with Kubernetes, setting up pods requires several commands.
  • Kubernetes is suitable for highly loaded production as it is featured with high availability, load balancing, container orchestration tools while Docker can work as standalone software but with a high number of production containers, it may fail. This is a high reason why most product engineering experts rant about Kubernetes in production.
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI) is a dashboard which is generally used to manage the clusters, Kubernetes dashboard can cope with it effortlessly while with Docker Swarm, as of now, there is no Dashboard available.
  • Auto-scaling is something where Docker lacks the most and Kubernetes is a clear winner. Kubernetes is an open-source system for auto-scaling and deployment. This feature is not available in Docker Swarm.
  • On the contrary, if we talk about load balancing, Kubernetes fails here as here the challenge is a group of Pods. It is difficult to get these Pods to talk to each other and discover with a network IP address. On the other side, Docker Swarm, without any Pods, automatically connects through the cluster and thus auto-load balancing.
  • Kubernetes provides the feasibility to orchestrate all your container resources from a single control plane and thus scales all the nodes which run your container to enhance the networking, load-balancing, security. It even manages Docker containers, scheduling and automatically deploying them to scale across IT environments uniformly. This is the reason if your need is minimal, go for Docker Swarm while if you looking for highly complex containers, opt for Kubernetes.
  • If we talk about the storage volume, Kubernetes has multiple containers inside the same Pod. It allows us to store there. Docker Swarm allows storing the volume in any other container.
  • Both the tools support rolling updates. Kubernetes perform rolling updates as a wh0le with Pods and deploy these updates to existing apps in all containers. While Docker Swarm lacks here as it doesn’t do automatic Rollbacks to the previous working deployment which Kubernetes does.
  • It is important to analyze the nodes and take care of the health status of nodes and the services. Hence, there are relevant parameters to keep in before choosing one. Logging and monitoring are a bit easy in Kubernetes as it has its in-built tool for this while Docker Swarm uses third-party tools like ELK.


Docker vs. Kubernetes: Which One to Go For?


The verdict of Kubernetes vs. Docker Swarm debate is a never-ending subject. They both are going to stay in the market and will transform themselves to bring something better in the future. It simply depends on your specific needs, are you looking for containerization for minimal needs or it is going to be highly complex.


While Kubernetes is widely being adopted by companies offering cloud computing services, both in production and to deploy their app across the globe, reducing latency and improving user experience. Docker Swarm is quite suitable for early startup use cases and with it you can build and run containers and store and share container images. But with a surge in demand, you have to switch for Kubernetes. Adopting containers is the demand of now, with old VMs you might work now but eventually, you have to bear the high cost or abandon the projects. Just keep the difference provided above in mind, at last, the choice is all yours!!