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A comparison guide — Docker vs Kubernetes

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Comparing Docker and Kubernetes is not reasonable. They are different, and if someone wants to get a straight answer which one is better, honestly, it will not be real to make. To make it more clear to the reader, I want to emphasize that Docker — is an application that is installed on the operating system. It was designed for containerization. While, Kubernetes — is a system needed for container management. After reading this article, the reader will know more about the features and the specifics of these tools.


The programming specialists firstly heard about it in 2013. The Docker, Inc. company released a product for OS virtualization. It became widely used for container packing. The containerization is highly popular, hence Docker is actively used in the cloud calculating sector.


This technology appeared in 2014. It was developed by Google. Today, the system is maintained by Cloud Native Computing Foundation. The product has open source code. The official Kubernetes website gives the following description: Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation.

The developers of containerization technology draw attention to an important condition — several positions should be checked before starting. One of them is the fixation of a reliable status bundle of all the participating computing devices. If this condition is maintained, the technology can be launched.

A comparison guide: pros and cons

Comparing Docker vs Kubernetes is illogical, because these are different things. It is like salt and sugar, 2 products, but one makes the dish salty, the other — sweet. Sometimes they work great together, and satisfy the gourmet's needs. The same goes for Docker and Kubernetes, the function both ways: together and separately. By using them together, people can improve the solutions both developers offer.

To launch containerized workloads on the PC, Docker should be pre-installed. The containerization technology allows isolating software products from the operating system of the computer. Basically, the application will function in the operating system space specially prepared for it.

In one operating system environment can function many other software products, if a specific part of the OS will be allocated for them. Docker provides the tools for managing, launching, and creating containers in the operating system.

If the product is installed on the host, then Kubernetes can be used for work. In this case, the servers provide the Docker nodes. The main bonus of Kubernetes and Docker collaboration is the simplification of the container load balance automatization tasks. A similar feature is available in the execution of plans for the network implementation, procedures related to scaling resources, their allocation or providing a safe environment on the OS. All these can be done in a command line or a special monitoring panel.

It is worth choosing several host nods, because it helps to improve the infrastructure characteristics and product scaling for the PC developers. If the collection of similar nodes are under the control of Kubernetes, the specialists call it Kubernetes cluster.

Docker controls the application on the development stage and during the runtime. It makes managing the library, where data is stored, simpler. Docker also manages the memory and the rights of the product. This instrument helps the developer to manage any host environment, if it is compatible with the application. This can be Linux or Windows. However, do not consider developing an application, simply as writing a secure code. The main task is to learn how to combine various programming languages, platforms, interfaces, and instruments.

And this is impossible without Docker. Its main features are:

  • Security management;
  • Implementation of insulation environment;
  • High productivity;
  • Fast and simple setting of the instrument;
The Kubernetes features are:
  • Converting manual processes into automatic;
  • Workload balancing;
  • Backup function;
  • Library instrumentation.
Kubernetes helps to proceed with application updating. The process will be easy and fast. Moreover, this instrument will balance the workload and plan the containers in clusters. It will give the opportunity to reload the broken containers, and to move and delete objects that do not follow the template provided by the user. A major advantage of Kubernetes is the network traffic distribution and maintaining the stability of the deployment process. The user can change the storing system automatically, relying on the assigned tasks.

Similar characteristics of Docker and Kubernetes 

Now we understand the basic differences, so now let’s discuss the similarities. These are written in the Go programming language, this means that both are perfect binaries. The next feature is using the YAML formatting, it can be read by humans. And the last one — the architecture is based on microservices.

Writing a Kubernetes operator on Docker 

This is a perfect solution that helps to bound the ecosystems. It is also possible to write an operator in Python, which is quite easy.

Firstly, take the Python-alpine image and install the package. Let’s skip the optimization by now.

A comparison guide, Docker vs Kubernetes

Launching the Python-alpine. Source.

Next step is Copyrator deployment. Follow the steps on the picture.

A comparison guide, Docker vs Kubernetes

Deployment for Copyrator. Source.

Creating the operator role is the next step.

A comparison guide, Docker vs Kubernetes

Operator role, with the required user permissions. Source.

Basically, that is all. To enrich the abilities of Kubernetes operators on Python, you can create an independent monitoring solution, by changing the CRD(Custom Resource Definitions) data, and benefit from parallelism.

Even by the help of the sample operator, you can comfortably update the settings in ambitious volumes. It is also possible to dump the Docker image repository keys to the application, but for this purpose you will need to add it to the Secret namespace.

If the Kubernetes operator is set properly, it will have several functions.

  1. Customization support, and will allow applying command line flags and environment variables.
  2. The contact with the operator will be through CRD.
  3. The Docker image will be easy to install by the user to the Kubernetes cluster (normally in one command)

When to apply the Docker and Kubernetes combination?

If your task is working with microservice architecture, then you can use all the solutions Docker provides. A container should be assigned to each microservice unit.

If you need to work within a development company with many specialists., in the production sector, then Kubernetes comes to help. The experience shows that this technology is fast developing. It is also a good solution for smaller companies of 2-3 programmers, but they should consider the costs. In general, Kubernetes is not always the most reasonable solution.

To conclude, Docker should be used when it comes to carrying out targeted tasks in a container. This instrument is also good for products that do not need graphic interface and for sequential deployment of software.

If the company works with many cloud providers, then I’d recommend Kubernetes. Kube works with various systems. This is why the specialists consider it a vendor-independent product.

Docker has its own tools for container management. It is called Docker Swarm. However, the majority of specialists prefer to combine Docker and Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is different from Docker, because its work is based on clusters, while Docker is working on one node. Moreover, Kubernetes has extensive services, and Docker Swarm is used for cluster coordination on the nod level on scaling stages.

Effectiveness of Kubernetes and Docker combination 

The experts recommend using this combination to improve the security infrastructure. Also, it can make the application more accessible, it will remain online even if some nods will break.

Using this combination is reasonable, since it provides great opportunities for product scaling. If the workload increases, then new solutions for user comfort should be developed. This is where it comes to scaling. Running more containers will be a good idea. The other solutions — to increase the number of nods in the Kubernetes cluster.

Furthermore, Docker allows us to collect the containers. An opportunity to create a standard for packing(open form) appears, and for spreading the container application too. Docker helps to store the container images, the user can always access them. It can be launched on Kubernetes without any difficulties. However, it is not the best solution. For optimization and process improvements, new instruments should be applied. Furthermore, the security measures should be set. Recognition services, deployment and other workflows should be  taken into consideration. Other DevOps methods still matter.

A comparison guide, Docker vs Kubernetes

Kubernetes' architecture in work. Source.

A comparison guide, Docker vs Kubernetes
Docker’s architecture in work. Source.

What is actually the Docker Swarm instrument?

As we understand that Docker and Kubernetes are different technologies and comparing them makes no sense. Let’s see what are the Docker Swarm features.

You should understand it as a tool for internal container management in the Docker environment. It is a communication tool that helps to speak with containers. Planning and clustering are the two main sectors of usage. Several containers launched on different hosts can be managed by it. Standard format Docker API is applied.

The main working principles are:

  • Docker Swarm is back compatible;
  • It is secure by default;
  • It has resilient and sustainable architecture;
  • It has a dynamic and simple user interface.
As you see the main Docker Swarm features, let’s compare Kubernetes and Docker Swarm.

Kubernetes and Docker Swarm deployment characteristics: main differences.

While Kubernetes uses a combination of services, modules, and microservices for application deployment, Docker Swarm uses Docker Compose or Swarm-cluster for this purpose. YAML files are used as a versatile container type.

Software installation process

Kubernetes — requires manual installation. This process needs thorough preparation and planning. Otherwise, Kube will not function. The installation may vary depending on the operating system. Also, this process may vary depending on the service supplier.

Docker Swarm installation is more simple and fast. You will only need a set of tools to do certain operations and do the configuration.

Workflow features

To launch the Kubernetes and use it within the structure, you will need to understand how Docker CLI works. The programmer needs to have special knowledge on the launching and infrastructure setting. For Docker Swarm, only one language is needed. Many specialists see this fact as a great advantage of Docker compared with Kubernetes.

Journaling process

Kubernetes supports a range of journaling and data monitoring solutions. Docker Swarm has a single option for data control for external developments. The Riemann application is widely used by the specialists for this case.

Scaling process 

Kube is the most appropriate solution for distributed systems. It is an all-in-one framework of complicated type. It can guarantee the user reliability about the status of the cluster, as well as the existing API set with the unified version.

Docker Swarm scaling process feature is high speed compared with Kubernetes. The reaction speed can increase if needed.

Network settings

Kube has a flat network. However, the containers have the ability of communication, and all objects are taking part in the process. You will need 2 CIDR to use Kubernetes. One will be responsible for IP addresses, and the other for services in the network.

Docker Swarm can make the self-encrypting of the user traffic in a container when overlaying.


In the times of active cloud service growth, containerization of services, open source software, and microservices, many leading companies in this sector try to attract talented specialists in DevOps. They achieve their goals and develop the infrastructure. By the means, the container provides the more effort that can be spent on business logic, without distraction from other factors.

If the business has a unique idea, and it needs not-typical solutions, a good idea would be to search for advice on a higher level, for example at custom developers. It is an interesting way for website development that focuses on frameworks and throws away all the templates. You should understand that this method is not about personal desire to create something unique.

It is about making a reasonable decision. If you have serious needs concerning the functionality of the product, a template solution will not be able to offer it to you. It can cost you even more than starting a project from scratch. Custom development is for projects that expect high workloads, various integrations, and many other features. If the CMS resources are limited, the project soon or late will start to lag, achieving a better reaction will be very difficult, and generally the process will take a lot of time.

Sometimes the projects are just given a star and then the developers continue working on them. Eventually, considering baseline data, the general philosophy of the project will be maintained, and the code will become unique.

Custom solutions are good for complicated projects like social networks, huge services, and as well for simple, but non-common tasks. To develop a website, you will need a couple of months or even years. The time depends on the speed of the project developed. The budget might also vary.

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