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Hamish Ostride Labs

Hamish Lister

Senior Content Manager

Hamish is a senior content manager at Ostride Labs. Hamish’s diverse background in technical research, analysis and market demand are the main drivers behind the topics he enjoys exploring and writing about.

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Kubernetes vs. Docker Swarm – What is the difference?

Updated 22 Sep 2022


Many teams have switched to using containers instead of conventional VM (virtual machine) infrastructure configurations since Linux first offered containerization more than ten years ago. Applications can now be deployed much more quickly thanks to containerization solutions like Docker, which also make it possible for teams to manage all of their microservices. However, you’ll need something to assist in coordinating these Docker containers as the number of containers in a system grows. So, what is Kubernetes vs docker?

The two main technologies for packaging containerized applications, container orchestration, and distributing containerized applications are Docker Swarm and Kubernetes (or K8s), which was developed by Google. Additionally, we frequently hear, “what is the difference between docker and Kubernetes?” Which is the superior choice? The best option for you will depend on your needs and tastes, although both are excellent at managing many containers and integrate well with Docker.

What is Kubernetes?

The robust open-source platform Kubernetes, sometimes known as K8s by its sizable developer community, was introduced by Google in 2014. Since then, Kubernetes has rapidly risen to prominence as one of the leading container orchestration tools thanks to its prowess in managing intricate system architectures, automating tasks across host clusters (such as scaling up or down, rollbacks, and more), and enabling system performance logging and monitoring via a built-in GUI.

Additionally modular and deployable with any architecture, Kubernetes is. It functions by classifying containers into logistical components that may be utilized and interacted with separately. Kubernetes enables enhanced portability throughout the system while significantly enhancing scalability and expansion by dividing the load across containers. The question is, “what is docker swarm vs kubernetes?” So, let’s discuss the first part of that question.

What is Docker Swarm?

Swarm, often known as Docker Swarm, is the open-source container orchestration platform developed by Docker. Swarm, developed and maintained by the same firm that produced the well-liked Docker containers, became well-known for its speedy setup, usability, and scalability.

With fewer containers and simpler topologies, Docker Swarm thrives. It is used to combine different Docker hosts into a single, simple host that supports rolling upgrades and automatic load balancing.

But wait, how do Docker and Docker Swarm vary from one another? The tool for managing and orchestrating these dockerized containers is called Docker Swarm, not to be confused with Docker, which is used for containerization. After all, you know they’ll work well together if the container and container orchestration technologies are produced by the same business.

Kubernetes vs Docker swarm Differences & Similarities

Both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are container orchestration systems. Therefore, they share a lot of functionality. However, depending on your requirements and tastes, one or the other may be the ideal choice as each tends to excel in distinct areas.

Let’s explore the difference between docker swarm and Kubernetes and how they compare in several important aspects. 

Setup/Installation & Cluster Strength

Without a doubt, the setup and installation process for Docker Swarm is the fastest and most straightforward. Swarm is also simpler to learn, especially for those with a less technical background. On the other side, Kubernetes has a far steeper learning curve and is much more difficult to set up. Due to this, Kubernetes can also manage installations that are much bigger or more challenging. Kubernetes delivers stronger clusters that are quicker and more secure—gold in huge production environments—once you get over the initial setup and get the hang of how it works.

Docker Swarm enables smaller, simpler infrastructures to flourish. However, Kubernetes is the way to go if you’re searching for flexible expansion and the capacity to manage incredibly complicated systems.

GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Kubernetes has a built-in GUI from the beginning. You can simply expand and deploy individual apps as well as manage and keep an eye on your various clusters using the Kubernetes Dashboard. Docker Swarm lacks an integrated GUI. However, a number of outside resources are available to enhance this as necessary.


You can more quickly scale your infrastructure up or down based on your needs using both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. While Swarm necessitates human scaling, Kubernetes adds autonomous scaling that may change based on traffic. However! The more sophisticated Kubernetes architecture slows down container scalability and deployment.

This again relies on your priorities when it comes to scalability. Kubernetes could be your best option if automation is what you’re after. However, if your team places a higher priority on speed while scaling up or down, Docker Swarm may be the better option.

Load Balancing

Because load balancing can be so simply managed within Docker containers, Docker Swarm excels in this area. Kubernetes requires manual load balancing settings on each of the individual nodes.

Logging & Monitoring

Logging and monitoring are integrated into the Kubernetes dashboard and are easily accessible. To measure more important metrics, there are a variety of extra third-party monitoring solutions that may be incorporated. While Docker Swarm does include certain fundamental server logs and event capabilities from Docker, you must use third-party applications to get the most out of your monitoring.

Future Outlook

Users of Docker Swarm have expressed some worry when Mirantis purchased Docker in November 2019. Although many people are still unclear about the future of Docker Swarm, Mirantis has declared they would maintain support for it without any suggested expiration date. As a result, a lot of Swarm users are beginning to consider switching to Kubernetes, which is growing rapidly thanks to its connections to Google and its sizable community.

Advantages of Kubernetes over docker swarm (and the disadvantages)


  • Reputable open-source platform with a sizable user base, supported by Google
  • Runs without a hitch on all operating systems
  • Able to oversee substantial and intricate infrastructures
  • Extremely flexible and scalable room for expansion
  • Feature automation and self-healing
  • There is a sizable user base.


  • The learning curve for installation is greater than for setup.
  • Compose and Command Line Interface (CLI) tools must be used separately.

Docker Swarm’s advantages and disadvantages


  • Docker Swarm’s advantages and disadvantages
  • Installation takes only a moment.
  • fantastic for less complicated and smaller systems


  • Functionality may be constrained due to its dependence on Docker’s API.
  • Following the acquisition by Mirantis, Docker Swarm’s future remains uncertain.

Kubernetes or Docker Swarm: Which will you choose?

Which is a better option: Docker Swarm or Kubernetes? The truth is that for container orchestration, both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are excellent choices. Docker Swarm is good when used with smaller infrastructures, effortlessly interacts with all current Docker tools, and is simple to build up and operate. However, many Swarm users believe that it is now time to start making plans to switch to Kubernetes as a result of Mirantis’ acquisition of Docker. With years of experience leading the industry, Kubernetes performs flawlessly on all operating systems. It can control bigger, more complicated infrastructures and has a high degree of flexibility and power.


So, docker swarm or Kubernetes? You may manage your microservices-based application using a container orchestration platform such as Docker Swarm or Kubernetes. The specifications you establish for your application’s functionality and performance will be the decisive factor.

Use Docker Swarm if you want something quick, simple, and effective. Due to the fact that it is the native orchestration software, it integrates quite nicely with other Docker tools as well.

However, because of its collection of tools, Kubernetes is considerably more suited to a complex distributed system. It can also smoothly interface with the production environment of numerous apps’ choice as well as the cloud.

Still, need further assistance? Contact our staff right away for cutting-edge assistance and information if you want to know more about orchestrating your containers.



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