Orchestration tools help users manage containerized applications during development, testing, and deployment. They orchestrate the complete application life cycle based on given specifications. Currently, there is a large variety of Container Orchestration Tools. Do not be surprised if many are Kubernetes related, as many different organizations use it for their production environments. Let’s compare some of the top tools available in 2020.

Introduction to Container Orchestration

Container orchestration is the process of automating the management of container-based microservice applications across multiple clusters. This concept is becoming increasingly popular within organizations. Alongside it, a wide array of Container Orchestration tools have become essential in deploying microservice-based applications.

Modern software development is no longer monolithic. Instead, it creates component-based applications that reside inside multiple containers. These scalable and adjustable containers come together and coordinate to perform a specific function or microservice. They can span across many clusters depending on the complexity of the application and other needs such as load balancing.

Containers package together application code and their dependencies. They obtain the necessary resources from physical or virtual hosts to work efficiently. When complex systems are developed as containers, proper organization and prioritization are required when clustering them for deployment.

container orchestration tools

That is where Container orchestration tools come in to play along with numerous advantages, such as:

  • Better environmental adaptability and portability.
  • Effortless deploying and managing.
  • Higher scalability.
  • Stabler virtualization of OS resources.
  • Constant availability and redundancy.
  • Handles and spread application load evenly across the system.
  • Improved networking within the application.

Comparing the Top Orchestration Tools

Kubernetes (K8s)

Google initially developed Kubernetes. It has since become a flagship project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. It is an open-source, portable, cluster managed orchestration framework. Most importantly, Kubernetes is backed by google. The design of Kubernetes allows containerized applications to run multiple clusters for more reliable accessibility and organization.

Kubernetes is extremely popular within DevOps circles because tools like Docker offer Kubernetes as Platform as a Service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Key Features

  • Automated deployment, rollouts, and rollbacks.
  • Automatic scalability and controllability
  • Isolation of containers.
  • Ability to keep track of service health
  • Service discovery and load balancing
  • It works as a platform providing service.

Advantages

  • Provide complete enterprise-level container and cluster management services.
  • It’s well documented and extensible.
  • Adjust the workload without redesigning the application.
  • Lesser resource costs.
  • Flexibility in deploying and managing.
  • Enhanced portability due to container isolation.

Many cloud providers use Kubernetes to give managed solutions as it’s the current standard for container orchestration tools.

Kubernetes Engine

Kubernetes Engine is part of the Google cloud platform with container and cluster management services. It provides all the functionality of Kubernetes, like deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Also, it’s faster and more efficient as it’s not necessary to handle individual Kubernetes clusters.

Kubernetes engine manages and runs even Google’s applications like Gmail and YouTube. Synonymous with productivity, innovation, resource efficiency.

Key Features

  • Support for Kubernetes based container tools like Docker.
  • It offers a hybrid networking system where it allocates a range of IP addresses for a cluster.
  • It provides powerful scheduling features.
  • Utilizes its OS to manage and control the containers.
  • Uses Google Cloud Platform’s control panel to provide integrated logging and monitoring.

Advantages

  • Automatic scaling, upgrading, and repairing.
  • Facilitate container isolation by removing interdependencies.
  • Seamlessly load-balanced and scaled.
  • Secure with Google’s Network policies.
  • Portability between Clouds and On-Premises.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)

Amazon EKS is another well managed Kubernetes service. It takes over the responsibility of managing, securing, and scaling containerized applications. Thus, nullifying the need for the Kubernetes control panel. These EKS clusters run in AWS Fargate in multiple zones, which computes containers without a server. Kubernetes based applications can be conveniently migrated to Amazon EKS without any code refactoring.

EKS integrates with many open-source Kubernetes tools. These come from both the community and several AWS tools like Route 53, AWS Application Load Balancer, and Auto Scaling.

Key Features

  • Facilitates a scalable and highly available control plane.
  • Support for distributed infrastructure management in multiple AWS availability zones.
  • Consumer service mesh (e.g. Istio) features with AWS App Mesh.
  • EKS integrates with many services like Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Amazon CloudWatch, Auto Scaling Groups, and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Advantages

  • Eliminates the necessity of provision and manage servers.
  • Can specify the resources per application and pay accordingly.
  • More secure with application isolation design.
  • Continues healthy monitoring without any downtime upgrades and patching.
  • Avoid single point of failure as it runs in multiple availability zones.
  • Monitoring, traffic control, and load balancing are improved.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

AKS provides a managed service for hosted Kubernetes with continuous integration and continuous delivery approach. It facilitates convenient deploying and managing, serverless Kubernetes with more dependable security and governance.

AKS provides an agile microservices architecture. It enables simplified deployment and management of systems complex enough for machine learning. They can be easily migrated to the cloud with portability for its containers and configurations.

Key Features

  • Integrated with Visual Studio Code Kubernetes tools, Azure DevOps and Azure Monitor
  • KEDA for auto-scaling and triggers.
  • Access management via Azure Active Directory.
  • Enforce rules across multiple clusters with Azure Policy.

Advantages

  • The ability to build, manage, and scale microservice-based applications.
  • Simple portability and application migration options
  • Better security and speed when Devops works together with AKS.
  • AKS is easily scalable by using additional pods in ACI.
  • Real-time processing of data streams.
  • Ability to train machine learning models efficiently in AKS clusters using tools like Kubeflow.
  • It provides scalable resources to run IoT solutions.

IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service

This option is a fully managed service designed for the cloud. It facilitates modern containerized applications and microservices. Also, it has capabilities to build and operate the existing applications by incorporating DevOps. Furthermore, It integrates with advance services like IBM Watson and Blockchain for swift and efficient application delivery.

Key Features

  • Ability to containerize existing apps in the cloud and extend them for new features.
  • Automatic rollouts and rollbacks.
  • Facilitates horizontal scaling by adding more nodes to the pool.
  • Containers with customized configuration management.
  • Effective logging and monitoring.
  • It has improved security and isolation policies.

Advantages

  • Secure and simplified cluster management.
  • Service discovery and load balancing capabilities are stabler.
  • Elastic scaling and immutable deployment
  • Dynamic provisioning
  • Resilient and self-healing containers.

Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)

Amazon ECS is a container orchestration tool that runs applications in a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. ECS powers many Amazon services such as Amazon.com’s recommendation engine, AWSBatch, and Amazon SageMaker. This setup ensures the credibility of its security, reliability, and availability. Therefore ECS can be considered as suitable to run mission-critical applications.

Key Features

  • Similar to EKS, ECS clusters run in serverless AWS Fargate.
  • Run and manage Docker containers.
  • Integrates with AWS App Mesh and other AWS services to bring out greater capabilities. For example:
    • Amazon Route 53,
    • Amazon CloudWatch
    • Access Management (IAM)
    • AWS Identity,
    • Secrets Manager
  • Support for third party docker image repository.
  • Support Docker networking through Amazon VPC.

Advantages

  • Payment is based on resources per application.
  • Provision and managed servers are not needed.
  • Updated resource locations ensure higher availability.
  • End to end visibility through service mesh
  • Networking via Amazon VPC ensures container isolation and security.
  • Scalability without complexity.
  • More effective load balancing.

Azure Service Fabric

ASF is a distributed service framework for managing container-based applications or microservices. It can be either cloud-based or on-premise. Its scalable, flexible, data-aware platform delivers low latency and high throughput workloads, addressing many challenges of native cloud-based applications.

A “run anything anywhere” platform, it helps to build and manage Mission-critical applications. ASF supports Multi-tenant SaaS applications. IoT data gathering and processing workloads are its other benefits.

Key Features

  • Publish Microservices in different machines and platforms.
  • Enabling automatic upgrades.
  • Self-repair scaling in or scaling out nodes.
  • Scale automatically by removing or populating nodes.
  • Facilitates the ability to have multiple instances of the same service.
  • Support for multi-language and frameworks.

Advantages

  • Low latency and improved efficiency.
  • Automatic upgrades with zero downtime
  • Supports stateful and stateless services
  • It can be installed to run on multiple platforms.
  • Allows more dependable resource balancing and monitoring
  • Full application lifecycle management with CI/CD abilities.
  • Perform leader election and service discovery automatically.

Docker Platform

Docker Orchestration tools facilitate the SDLC from development to production while Docker swarm takes care of cluster management. It provides fast, scalable, and seamless production possibilities for dispersed applications. A proven way to best handle Kubernetes and containers.

It enables building and sharing Docker images within teams as well as large communities. Docker platform is extremely popular among developers. According to a Stack Overflow survey, it ranked as the most “wanted,” “loved,” and “used” platform.

Key Features

  • It supports both Windows and Linux OS
  • It provides the ability to create Windows applications using the Docker Engine (CS Docker Engine) and Docker Datacenter.
  • It uses the same kernel as Linux, which is used in the host computer.
  • Supports any container supported infrastructure.
  • Docker Datacenter facilitates heterogeneous applications for Windows and Linux.
  • Docker tools can containerize legacy applications through Windows server containers.

Advantages

  • It provides a perfect platform to build, ship, and run distributed systems faster.
  • Docker provides a well-equipped DevOps environment for developers, testers, and the deployment team.
  • Improved performance with cloud-like flexibility.
  • Smaller size as it uses the same kernel as the host.
  • It provides the ability to migrate applications to the cloud without a hassle.

Helios

Helios is an open-source platform for Docker by Spotify. It enables running containers across many servers. Further, it avoids a single point of failure since it can handle many HTTP requests at the same time. Helios logs all deploys, restarts, and version changes. It can be managed through its command-line and via HTTP API.

Key Features

  • Fits easily into the way you do DevOps.
  • Works with any network topology or operating system.
  • It can run many machines at a time or a single machine instance.
  • No prescribed service discovery.
  • Apache Mesos is not a requirement to run Helios. However, JVM and Zookeeper are prerequisites.

Advantages

  • Pragmatic
  • Works at scale
  • No system dependencies
  • Avoid single points of failure

a woman choosing container orchestration platforms

How to Choose a Container Orchestration Tool?

We have looked at several Orchestration Tools that you can consider choosing from when deciding what is best for your organization. To do so, be clear about your organization’s requirements and processes. Then you can more easily assess the pros and cons of each.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes provides a tremendous amount of functionality and is best suited for enterprise-level containers and cluster management. Various platforms manage Kubernetes like Google, AWS, Azure, Pivotal, and Docker. You have considerable flexibility as the containerized workload scales.

The main drawback is the lack of compatibility with Docker Swarm and Compose CLI manifests. It can also be quite complex to learn and set up. Despite these drawbacks, it’s one of the most sought after platforms to deploy and manage clusters.

Docker Swarm

Docker Swarm is more suitable for those already familiar with Docker Compose. Simple and straightforward it requires no additional software. However, unlike Kubernetes and Amazon ECS, Docker Swarm does not have advanced functionalities like built-in logging and monitoring. Therefore, it is more suitable for small scale organizations that are getting started with containers.

Amazon ECS

If you’re already familiar with AWS, Amazon ECS is an excellent solution for cluster deployment and configuration. A fast and convenient way to start-up and meets demand with scale, it integrates with several other AWS services. Furthermore, it’s ideal for small teams who do not have many resources to maintain containers.

One of its cons is that it’s not suitable for nonstandard deployments. It also has ECS specific configuration files making troubleshooting difficult.

Find Out More About Server Orchestration Tools

The software industry is rapidly moving towards the development of containerized applications. The importance of choosing the right tools to manage them is ever-increasing increasing.

Container Orchestration Platforms have various features and solutions for the challenges caused by their use. We have compared and analyzed the many differences between Container Orchestration Tools. The “Kubernetes vs. Docker-swarm” and “Kubernetes vs. Mesos” articles are noteworthy among them.

If you want more information about which tools suit your architecture best, book a call with one of our experts today