Kubernetes vs. Swarm

Virtualization with self-contained packages (the containers) opens up completely new possibilities for working in software development. Kubernetes, on the other hand, has closed a gap that has been created by this new way of working: Whoever works with many containers must also be able to manage them efficiently. Kubernetes enables exactly that - but always on the basis of dockers or other container services.

At the same time, Docker offers its own orchestration tool: Docker Swarm. This offers users similar features to Kubernetes. In this article we will compare these two technologies: Kubernetes vs. Docker Swarm.

Kubernetes and Docker in combination

Kubernetes is an application for orchestration (i.e. management) of containers. But the program does not create the containers themselves. Therefore Kubernetes depends on a container platform. Docker is by far the most popular solution in this area - but there are also docker alternatives. Kubernetes accesses the existing container tools and integrates them into its own workflow. This way, containers created with Docker or another tool can be easily integrated into Kubernetes. Then you use orchestration to manage, scale and move the containers.

Kubernetes ensures that everything runs as desired and also provides replacements should a node collapse. So if you use Kubernetes and Docker together, you usually benefit from a very robust container environment.

Although Kubernetes also works with other container platforms, Docker is the most popular option for good reasons: not only because Docker has made container virtualization popular, but also because Kubernetes and Docker serve similar purposes. Both also gather a strong open source community behind them. The interaction between the two works so well that Docker can even be purchased in a package with Kubernetes - even though Docker offers its own orchestration tool.

Simple comparison

Even if Kubernetes and Docker harmonize wonderfully with each other, there is still competition when it comes to Swarm. While Docker works with both solutions and can even switch back and forth between them, Docker Swarm and Kubernetes cannot be combined. This is why users are often faced with the question of whether to use the very popular Kubernetes or to use Swarm, which belongs to Docker.

The structure of the two tools is very similar in principle - only the names of the individual aspects change. Also the purpose of use is identical: to manage containers efficiently and to ensure the most economical use of resources through intelligent scaling.

Swarm reveals advantages during installation: Since the tool is an integral part of Docker, the transition is very easy. While Kubernetes requires the orchestration to be set up first, which is admittedly not very complex, Swarm has it all. Since you are most likely already working with Docker in practice, you don't need to learn the ins and outs of a new program.

In return, Kubernetes has its own GUI: The dashboard belonging to the application not only gives you a very good overview of all aspects of the project, but also allows you to perform numerous tasks. Docker Swarm on the other hand offers such a comfort only with additional programs.

Kubernetes also scores points in the range of functions: While Swarm requires additional resources for monitoring and maintaining a log, these tasks are already provided for in Kubernetes and corresponding functions are part of its repertoire.

The main benefit of both programs, however, is the scaling and the assurance of availability. It is said that Docker Swarm is generally better in terms of scalability. The reason for this is the complexity of Kubernetes, which leads to a certain amount of clumsiness. On the other hand, the complexity of the system means that automatic scaling is better for Kubernetes. Another major advantage of Kubernetes is that it monitors the condition of the containers at all times and directly compensates for any failure.

In return, Swarm performs better in load balancing: the even distribution of the load is a matter of course with Swarm. With Kubernetes, a small detour must be accepted for load balancing. There, deployments must first be turned into services in order to benefit from load balancing.

Direct comparison

To help you decide which solution is best for you, we have compared Docker Swarm and Kubernetes in terms of user-relevant areas.

KubernetesDocker Swarm
InstallationEasy and flexible installationIntegration in docker environment already given
UsageClearly arranged dashboard, but own commandsGUI only by additional software, but with Docker usual and familiar use
ScalingSlightly cumbersome scalingScales extremely fast
MonitoringIntegral componentOnly through additional software
Load BalancingVia detour possiblePart of the concept
AvailabilityMonitors the status and provides compensationin the case of failure Ensures high availability through replicated services