OpenShift and Kubernetes are both excellent options for simplifying container orchestration. More and more companies are starting to realize the advantages of using such tools. The many similarities between OpenShift and Kubernetes stem from the fact that Kubernetes is an essential element of OpenShift. However, the platforms are different in key ways.
Though only a small fraction of today’s businesses currently use containerization tools such as OpenShift and Kubernetes, that won’t be true for long. According to Gartner’s recent survey, more than 50 percent of businesses will embrace containerization by the end of 2020. Furthermore, analysts expect this number to rise to 75 percent by 2022.
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Containerization holds the key to unlocking effective, agile, and scalable business models in the future. If you’re interested in containerization tools, learning Docker is a good place to start. But if you just want to understand the differences between OpenShift and Kubernetes, here’s what you need to know.
What Is OpenShift?
OpenShift is a commercialized containerization software product created from an open-source project initiated by the company Red Hat. Also known as Red Hat OpenShift, and previously known as Open Hat Origin, this software is part of a family of containerization software, with the OpenShift Container Platform leading the way as the flagship software.
Deeply explored, OpenShift is a cloud-based platform that operates as a PaaS (platform as a service). OpenShift excels at providing consistent security, centralized policy management, built-in monitoring, and added compatibility features. Developers use it to create, test, and deploy applications featured on the cloud.
OpenShift ships with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is Red Hat’s open-source operating system. This OS is the most popular enterprise Linux platform. It is also worth noting that OpenShift supports a host of programming languages such as Ruby, Java, PHP, Go, and Python.
What Is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes is an open-source project from Google. Rather than a PaaS, it is a containers as a service (CaaS) project that gives developers the ability to upload, run, organize, and manage containers by exploiting container-based virtualization.
If you are learning and running Kubernetes, chances are you are running a cluster. A Kubernetes cluster is a set of node machines used to run container apps.
Simply known as K8S, the software is used by businesses for automation, scaling, and managing automated deployment of application workloads. It is the main open-source project used to build OpenShift. However, there are key differences and similarities between the two platforms.
OpenShift vs Kubernetes: The Most Important Differences and Similarities
Both OpenShift and Kubernetes offer a solution to containerization. In terms of performance, both these platforms provide a scalable architecture that fosters application development and management, especially for large-scale operations.
Because of the similarities of these two tools, differentiating between them is often challenging. One way to keep them straight is to remember that OpenShift is a product while Kubernetes is a project.
At a more granular level, here are six sets of features, organized from most different to least different, that can show us the unique properties of OpenShift and Kubernetes more clearly.
Security features differ massively from one platform to the other. OpenShift has stronger and stricter security policies than Kubernetes. Most notably, OpenShift’s security policies will prevent you from running many simple container images. Additionally, OpenShift restricts developers from running a container as a root.
The two platforms differ significantly concerning authentication and authorization. OpenShift has added features that make cohesion with Active Directory seamless. Both offer authorization by utilizing role-based access control (RBAC). You can allow authorization of external apps by adding more components.
Deployment is a technique used by developers to build and release complex applications quickly. Some developers have learned enough about automation to build platforms that can deploy automatically.
OpenShift uses DeploymentConfig to update pods with the help of internal controls. However, OpenShift’s DevelopmentConfig does not support concurrent updates. But on the Kubernetes platform, you will find plenty of such updates useful in scaling them properly.
Since Kubernetes is an open-source framework, it is easy to install on many operating systems, including AWS and Azure. This platform does not have special requirements with respect to operating systems.
The main building blocks are from Kubernetes deployment. However, OpenShift is easily installable on a handful of operating system platforms such as Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Fedora.
Cluster administration works more effectively on an integrated Web-based User interface (UI). You first have to install the Kubernetes dashboard before using the Kube-proxy and manually creating a bearer token for authentication and authorization.
On the other hand, OpenShift has a login page where you can easily access the console and perform a number of tasks, including creating resources through a form.
CI/CD pipelines help in automating your overall software delivery process. Both platforms allow you to develop CI/CD pipelines, but it is easier to deploy your apps on OpenShift.
Updates and Releases
Kubernetes has a couple of releases every year. The number might vary every year, but they are usually four on average. OpenShift, on the other hand, has a couple of yearly releases but not enough to match Kubernetes’ releases.
With that said, you can upgrade the existing clusters on Kubernetes as opposed to rebuilding them from scratch.
Both Kubernetes and OpenShift have cloud support. However, Kubernetes has support from public clouds such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and AWS. OpenShift has a specially designed online platform that is supported by Azure.
OpenShift vs Kubernetes: Pros and Cons
From user experience to web console, authentication and authorization, OpenShift and Kubernetes vary considerably. If you are debating which containerization platform to use, the following pros and cons will help you make an informed decision.
- Better container image management. The ImageStream feature on OpenShift makes it easy to upload and manage a container image without dealing with the registry.
- Extensive security features. Because of its strict security policies, OpenShift can identify vulnerabilities and easily redress them.
- Not flexible. You can only install OpenShift on a handful of operating systems, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host (RHELAH), CentOS, Fedora, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
- Relatively small community. OpenShift has a small community of developers, mostly from Red Hat. As a result, support for this product is limited.
- Relatively hard-to-understand logs. Because cluster logs on OpenShift are hard to understand, they are also challenging to manage.
- Flexible. You can install Kubernetes on numerous operating systems, including AWS and Azure.
- Extensive community support. Kubernetes has a large community of developers and experts who work constantly to refine the platform. The platform also offers tons of support for different projects and languages.
- Compatible with simple apps. Because of its lenient security policies, you can efficiently run simple apps on Kubernetes.
- Poor container image management. Unlike OpenShift, Kubernetes is not built for optimal management of container images.
- Hard to learn and use. Due to the complex nature of its user interface, you may find it challenging to understand and manage containers using Kubernetes.
Should You Use OpenShift or Kubernetes?
Choosing between Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes is challenging because both offer excellent containerization mechanisms. OpenShift requires you to subscribe for your cluster, and as your cluster grows so does the price.
On the other hand, Kubernetes is free, and you can download it from its repository, which is available on GitHub. With all this in mind, which one should you go for?
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In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with either. But let’s quickly review the advantages of each.
Advantages of Choosing OpenShift
OpenShift is a great option that comes with a ton of features, including ImageStream, which is massively useful in creating and managing container apps. Besides, it is relatively easy to use.
For designing and testing applications, OpenShift remains one of the industry’s best platforms.
Advantages of Choosing Kubernetes
The advantages of Kubernetes, on the other hand, include its affordability, support, and productivity. This project is cheaper than most containerization solutions on the market.
Kubernetes also has the backing of all major cloud vendors and community developers. As a result, its ecosystem benefits greatly from the frequent releases and updates it receives.
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