Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes: Pros and Cons

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Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes: Pros and Cons

Docker is the most popular choice for working with containers, but Kubernetes has its own advantages. Learn about the strengths of both types of software.

· DevOps Zone ·
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Have you ever found yourself stuck choosing between Docker vs. Kubernetes? Well, if you did, then you are not the only one. Both of them are excellent container services, and the choice heavily depends upon your requirements or your team.

Before we dive deep, we first need to understand what is a “container.”

Containers are lightweight, standalone images that can be used to implement software. They contain everything that is required to run a piece of software successfully. Containers work similarly like Virtual Machines(VM). However, they only include the necessary libraries and settings to execute the software.

Docker and Kubernetes- both offer containers to deploy and isolate software within the same infrastructure. They both provide an excellent way of handling software; however, there are some key differences between them.

Many engineers such as Micah from New Orleans, US and Libro from Philadelphia, US, love working on Docker as it is easy to use and implement. But, does this make Kubernetes a bad choice? Let’s try to understand.

LiveEdu engineers working on Docker

Before we dive deeper into a comparison, let’s get a basic understanding of both Docker and Kubernetes.


Docker is an open-source platform. It can mean a company, a container platform or the Docker Swarm. As we are discussing container technology, when we mention Docker, we mean Docker Swarm. Docker is a flexible container storage platform and is known for its ease of use. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, is all about managing a cluster of Docker engines.

docker architecture


Kubernetes is a popular open-source container storage program. It was built by Google to manage their own systems. Kubernetes is an open-source, scalable, useful and powerful tool. It can handle containers and offer immense scalability and automation at the same time. However, it is not easy-to-use and is despised by many developers.

One of the biggest hits in the last year, Pokemon Go, also used Kubernetes to manage their product and scale rapidly. The success of Pokemon Go and how it became viral so fast, do shed light on the power of Kubernetes.


Docker vs. Kubernetes

Installation and Setup

Every tool has its own installation and setup process. Managing containers in the Cloud or other infrastructure depends a lot on how it is set up in the first place. In comparison, Kubernetes is not user-friendly.

When it comes to installation and setup, it can give developers a hard time. Firstly, it needs to be reconfigured for every operating system(OS). The online documentation helps a lot in the process; however, things can get complex while building a custom environment. The only solution is to use Google to your advantage. Another key reason why Kubernetes is not easy to setup and install is the planning that is required before you start implementing. You need to plan the nodes and that can take a lot of time and effort. The last nail in the coffin is the need for manual integrations. Not everything can be automated, and that makes Kubernetes hard to manage.

So, where does Docker stands in comparison to Kubernetes in this regard?

Docker, thanks to its Command Line Interface (CLI), is easy to setup and manage. The Docker Swarm uses CLI and GIT-like semantics. This makes it easy for application developers to incorporate new technologies into their workflow. In comparison with Kubernetes, you don’t need to learn new things when implementing the container for new OS or environment.

Overall, Docker wins hands-down when it comes to setup and installation.

Monitoring and Logging

Once the containers are deployed, the next step is to monitor the cluster of nodes. Both Kubernetes and Docker succeed in offering a good monitoring and logging process.

For Kubernetes, there is more than one way to monitor and log the clusters. You can use any of the following ways to do so:

For Docker, there is no in-built library or process for monitoring or logging. However, developers can use third-party applications for monitoring and logging purposes. Some of the good examples of 3rd party monitoring tools are Sumo Logic, Retrace, Reimann, and DataDog.

Size and Performance

The basic philosophy behind the use of container services is the scalability they offer. Both platforms are highly scalable and support thousands of containers at a particular time. Initially, Docker didn’t have a great support for a large number of containers. However, with new updates, it can support as many containers as Kubernetes. Both the systems roughly support 1000 node clusters. The 1000 node clusters can support up to 30,000 containers.

Performance wise, Kubernetes holds a good ground against Docker. However, the research done by an independent body revealed that Docker could spin containers five times faster than Kubernetes.

Let’s try to understand the differences we have discussed until now, using a table.

Kubernetes Vs. Docker



Most mature solution in the market.

Docker offers good features, but limited by its API.

Kubernetes is also the most popular solution in the market.

Docker’s market is relatively weaker compared to Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is hard to setup and configure.

Docker’s setup and installation is easy.

Kubernetes offers inbuilt logging and monitoring tools.

Docker only supports 3rd party monitoring and logging tools.

CPU utilization is a big factor in autoscaling.

It is possible to scale services manually.


Kubernetes is widely accepted by the community of developers, despite the hard installation process. The sole reason behind its popularity is the flexibility it offers and also the fact that it is backed by Google, one of the leading tech giants. Docker, on the other hand, has a small community. It is growing slowly, but it is hard to speculate whether it will ever beat Kubernetes.

The large community of Kubernetes means new tools, features, and support. If you are a small developer, who wants to learn container services, then Docker can be a great place to get started with. And, that’s the sole reason why you will find beginner educational content surrounding Docker rather than Kubernetes.

So, what’s your take on the comparison? Let us know in the comments section below.

container, docker, kubernetes, open-source software, software

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