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Containers in 2020
With experts predicting 2020 as the year of container adoption, this popular technology has paved the way for a growing market in container deployment and management. 

Containerisation has transformed the way that users deploy software, with virtual containers being used to develop applications. Entire operating systems (OS) are virtualised rather than the underlying hardware, meaning that each individual container accommodates only the application and its libraries and dependencies. 

Two leading technologies
There is some confusion over two leading technologies on the market, namely the Docker platform and Kubernetes. Whilst they both help users to run applications within containers, the technologies operate at different layers of the stack, and can even be used together to make managing users’ applications simpler. 

The Docker platform and Kubernetes are not direct competitors – Docker is a containerisation platform, whereas Kubernetes is a container orchestration solution for container platforms like Docker. However, Docker Swarm (or Swarm) is the native clustering engine for and by Docker, and a popular container orchestration solution alongside Kubernetes and Mesos. 

As containers started to gain popularity it was clear that a solution was required to coordinate and schedule all the containers, as well as making upgrades to applications without any interruption of service. As orchestration solutions essentially make a cluster of machines behave like one large machine, it is easier to manage several containers at once. 

First developed by Google
Kubernetes is an open-source platform that was first developed by engineers at Google. It is used for automating container deployment operations, automation across clusters and scaling applications.

The solution is production-ready, self-healing and modular, so it can be utilised for any architecture deployment. Kubernetes also aims to provide the tools to relieve the burden of running applications in public and private clouds by grouping containers into units.  

The Docker ecosystem
Docker Swarm (Swarm) is an open-source solution for packaging and distributing containerised applications.

Swarm is integrated into the ecosystem of Docker, using its own API and same command line from Docker. It provides users with a way to administer a large number of containers spread across clusters of servers. Any tools or containers that work with Docker also run equally well in Docker Swarm. 

Kubernetes and Swarm have been developed to save resources by limiting hardware usage. Both of the platforms do provide some of the same functionality, but there are fundamental differences between how the two operate.

Why Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is known for its ease of use and offers a variety of storage options including on-premises, SANs and public clouds. The solution utilises its own programming language, API and client definitions, which are different from the standard Docker equivalents.


It runs on any operating system and is easy to organise with pods that interact with one another. All the pods in Kubernetes are distributed among nodes, offering high availability by detecting unhealthy pods and getting rid of them. 

Some drawbacks of Kubernetes could be that it has a complex installation and configuration process, as well as complicated manual cluster deployment. It is also less customisable and not compatible with existing Docker CLI and Compose tools.

Docker Swarm
Docker Swarm has a much easier initial set up and configuration process than Kubernetes and is highly customisable. It integrates well with existing Docker tools such as Docker Compose and has much of the same functionality of the original platform.

Swarm can deploy containers much faster and can scale on-demand with good reaction times. It also offers a fast-paced environment to boot up a virtual machine and run an app in a virtual environment. 

Docker Swarm, however, does not provide a storage option and the monitoring service is not an overly comprehensive offering. There is also limited functionality by what is available in the Docker API. For support for other production aspects, assistance is also needed for monitoring, healing and scaling. 

The versus debate
Both Kubernetes and Docker provide orchestration solutions for container applications, offering a lot of the same functionality as each other.

Kubernetes does tend to support higher demands with more complexity and is used in production environments by many high-profile companies. Whereas Docker Swarm offers a simpler solution that is quick to deploy, making it more popular with developers. 

Do you use Docker Swarm or Kubernetes? Which do you prefer? Let us know @hyve!

Find out more about Hyve’s high performance hosting for Docker Swarm or Kubernetes by contacting our sales team today on 0800 612 2524. 

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