The Kubernetes vs Docker conversation never seems to fade away in the race to learn cloud computing. Though the dichotomy implies that you must choose one or the other container orchestration system, both are excellent containerization tools.
Docker and Kubernetes are fundamental technologies that are not necessarily in direct competition. In fact, their key differences are what allow them to excel in their respective areas.
In this post, we’ll explore features of both Kubernetes and Docker, examine the key differences, and survey the main advantages of each of these technologies. But it would be almost impossible to understand the differences between these containerization software tools without exploring containers first.
What Is a Container?
A container is a standard unit that programs use to package code. It is the basic unit that ensures a given application runs smoothly from one computing environment to another.
Containers operate in a massive container architecture, also known as a cluster. You cannot have clusters without nodes. Nodes, simply put, are the physical infrastructure or virtual machines that your application runs on.
Think of it this way. When developers are writing code, they often use their local development environment. But problems arise when they are ready to transfer the code to production.
Containers solve the issue of portability in the application development process, allowing you to separate the production code from the infrastructure on which you ran your code. Containers are easily portable because they use a special feature called images, which basically consist of previously saved container information.
With containers, you can run your app on any computer that supports the containerization platform, including Windows and Linux. Two of the most popular containerization tools are Kubernetes and Docker.
What Is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes, commonly known as K8s, is an open-source container orchestration project used for automated deployments, management scheduling, and scaling of containerized applications.
Google introduced Kubernetes back in 2014 as an open-source project. Thanks to its robust functionality, it has since become one of the most widely used containerization tools. Additionally, it has the backing of a large community of developers, cloud providers, and contributors.
A Kubernetes cluster features a container designed to be a master node. This node serves a host of purposes, including scheduling workloads for the other containers and managing their orchestration.
What Is Docker?
Docker is an open-source containerization software as well as a container file format used for automating the deployment of various applications. It delivers software and apps in packages that take the form of containers.
It was first released in 2013 by Docker, Inc. Currently, Docker is the world’s second most popular container platform, with approximately 25 percent of all enterprises using it.
Docker maintains a higher degree of security than Kubernetes by requiring users to attain specific privileges. It also offers a secure-by-default option to optimize security. To get the most out of its app deployment capabilities, users are advised to learn and understand its security policies.
Docker is praised for its portability. It can easily run on any desktop, environment, or data center. Docker Compose is one of the great tools that Docker, Inc. developed for defining and running a multitude of containers as Docker applications. With a single command, you can not only create but start all the services from your configuration.
Docker Compose vs Kubernetes is just one of many subtopics in the debate about containerization tools. Since both Docker and Kubernetes offer containerization solutions, it is fairly hard to distinguish between the two. Nonetheless, below are three key differences and similarities between them.
Kubernetes vs Docker: The Most Important Differences and Similarities
The containerization industry features a lot of competition. Every container tool is constantly vying to be the best. However, both Kubernetes and Docker have different features that lead to different functionalities, as explained below.
Different Approaches to Customization
With Docker, you can customize projects more comprehensively than with Kubernetes, which offers limited features in the way of customization.
Different Approaches to Logging and Monitoring
Kubernetes offers a built-in tool for logging and monitoring, while Docker does not. The latter requires you to use a third-party solution such as the ELK Stack.
Different Clustering Technology
It would be appropriate to contrast Kubernetes with Docker Swarm, another product from Docker, Inc. While both are designed to coordinate clusters of nodes, you can run Docker on a single node.
Both Are Open-Source Projects
Both Kubernetes and Docker are largely open-source projects that bring a multitude of benefits, including performance, serverless capabilities, and CI/CD workflows.
Both Have Support from Cloud Service Providers
Although the number of cloud service providers on each platform may vary, both Kubernetes and Docker have support from service providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Cloud, and Google.
Both Provide Scaling Options
Scaling is an important feature in the containerization process. Both K8S and Docker provide scaling options, but with different functionalities. For instance, scaling is stronger on the K8S platform but is faster on the Docker platform.
Kubernetes vs Docker: Pros and Cons
Both Kubernetes and Docker are excellent at various containerization functions, but each comes with its pros and cons. From application running to the development environment and deployment and management, below are the relative strengths and weaknesses of Docker vs Kubernetes.
- Excellent auto-scaling properties. The auto-scaling feature makes it easy to increase the number of nodes according to the service response requirements.
- Built-in tool designed for logging and monitoring. Monitoring and managing logs are significantly easier with Kubernetes.
- Support from a number of public cloud service providers. Kubernetes has the backing of Google, Azure, and AWS. It also has an extensive ecosystem centered around Container Network Interface (CNI).
- Many situations of overhead spinning. There are a lot of overhead spinning situations to deal with when using Kubernetes.
- Complex and hard to use. If you are new to containerization, you might find Kubernetes’ complexity and user interface a little overwhelming.
- Lackluster management of container images. Kubernetes makes it difficult to manage container images because of its limited features in this department.
- Great for complicated applications. If you are working on complicated software, learning Docker will help you manage them more effectively with the help of Docker containers.
- Excellent for adopting a microservice-based architecture. Docker is an excellent choice when it comes to microservice-based architecture for your programs and apps.
- Enhanced security features. Docker prevents a compromised application server from accessing the database’s server memory.
- Faster scaling. It might not be as robust for load balancing, but it is definitely faster than K8S.
- It runs on virtualized environments. Running on virtual environments has a couple of downsides with regards to performance. If you are working in an environment that dictates low latency, you’ll be at a slight disadvantage.
- It has limited support from cloud service providers. Compared to some containerization tools like Kubernetes, Docker receives support from only a handful of cloud service providers, such as Azure.
Should You Use Kubernetes or Docker?
When it comes to comparing Kubernetes and Docker, it’s not a matter of either/or. It is often a case of combining the right tools for what your team needs to get the job done.
It would be best to choose both platforms because they work exceptionally well together. But if choosing both technologies is not in the cards, it would be best to stop and reconsider your team’s needs because each platform has its own functionalities.
With that said, here are some of the advantages of choosing one platform over the other.
Advantages of Choosing Kubernetes
With Kubernetes, you’ll be getting a ton of features, including container self-repair, auto-scaling, and ease of application deployment and management. Besides, you will receive support from a large online community of developers and contributors.
Advantages of Choosing Docker
Docker is exceptionally good at creating and sharing disk images with other developers on your local network, which it does with the help of Docker Hub. It is easy to wrap up all the necessary packages and configurations to run an image as a container.
Kubernetes and Docker Work Better Together
If at all possible, you should consider using both open-source projects. Choosing both Kubernetes and Docker will enable you to make your infrastructure more robust and easily available. Besides, you’ll be better able to maintain apps when they are broken down into smaller parts.
If your nodes go off the grid, your app will remain online. Additionally, using both will make your app highly scalable. Should your app demand more in terms of scalability, combining Kubernetes and Docker will provide a better experience.
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