Kubernetes vs Docker Swarm- Top 4 Difference

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Dec 22, 2022

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Containerisation is a great way to simplify deploying and managing applications. Many modern companies use this technique to assemble dependencies. This allows them to manage dependency-related conflicts in a stress-free manner.

Containers are scalable and portable applications. They help in organizing and managing dependencies within one package. However, one must use a container orchestration tool to scale these. This tool also provides frameworks to manage various containers. 

Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are two popular container orchestration platforms. But they both are varied and have specific uses. They also have different advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at these in detail in the article below.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a container orchestration system backed by Google. It was initially designed to organize Google’s containers. It is an open-source, portable system with a cloud-native infrastructure. 

It can manage complex cluster structures of containers. It helps in automating the management, deployment and scaling of container applications. Kubernetes is rich in features and benefits from global community contributions. 

Advantages of Kubernetes

  • Large community backed by Google
  • Supports all operating systems
  • Can manage and sustain complex workloads and architectures
  • Self-healing capacities that allow automatic scaling
  • Can be automated
  • Has built-in integrations
  • Offers a wide range of integrations
  • Offered by key cloud providers, including AWS, Google, Azure and IBM.

Disadvantages of Kubernetes

  • Complex installation process
  • Steep learning curve
  • Takes specialized knowledge to excel.
  • Requires a separate CLI tool 
  • Transitioning from docker swamp to Kubernetes can be difficult. 
  • This can lead to a loss of productivity in certain situations
  • Heavy application for simple apps that do not need consistent deployment
  • Must be regularly patched to update without workload disruption

What is Docker Swarm?

Docker Swarm is a container orchestration system built and maintained by Docker. It is an open-source system and supports the orchestration of engine clusters. It converts multiple docker instances into a single virtual host. 

The Docker swarm cluster consists of three items:

  1. Nodes
  2. Services and tasks
  3. Load balancers

The docker engine controls clusters and manages containers with the help of nodes. These are individual instances and help in running tasks and services. Docker Swarm also includes load balancing to request routes across nodes.

Advantages of Docker Swarm

  • Simple to install
  • Well suited for beginners 
  • It is lightweight
  • Easy to understand
  • Provides automated load balancing within docker containers
  • Allows working with Docker CLI and other Docker tools like Docker Compose
  • Provides intelligent node selections
  • Allows picking up optimal nodes in clusters for container deployment
  • It has its Swarm API

Disadvantages of Docker Swarm

  • Strongly tied to Docker API
  • Limited functionality compared to Kubernetes
  • Little customization and extension options
  • Automation capabilities are not as good as Kubernetes

Also, know Docker vs Kubernetes

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Top4 Difference between Docker Swarm and Kubernetes

Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are two diverse container orchestration platforms. They have varied advantages and disadvantages. Let us further understand these differences in detail. 

The most significant difference between Kubernetes and Docker swam in their complexities. Kubernetes, on the one hand, is used for complex applications. At the same time, Docker Swarm is for simple applications that are easy to use and the preferable choice. 

Some other differences between docker swarm and Kubernetes are:

1. Installation and setup

Docker Swarm is easy to configure and install. In comparison, Kubernetes is complex and customizable to set up.

  • Docker Swarm: It is easy to set up and works consistently well across all operating systems
  • Kubernetes: Manual instructions differ for all operating systems. Installation is not required if using services from a cloud provider.

2. Load Balancing

Load balancing is available only available on the docker swarm. Docker swarm offers load balancing automatically. But Kubernetes does not. However, one can easily integrate load balancing through third-party tools.

  • Docker Swarm: Docker provides internal load balancers that are easy to use.
  • Kubernetes: Kubernetes does not provide internal load balancers. But one can easily integrate balancers via third-party applications. One can also make discoveries through a single DNS name. Kubernetes can also access container apps like Ip addresses or HTTP routes. 

3. Monitoring

Kubernetes offers in-built monitoring while docker swarm does not. However, one can integrate third-party monitoring tools into Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. 

  • Docker Swarm: Docker does not have a built-in monitoring mechanism. However, one can easily integrate monitoring through third-party tools.
  • Kubernetes: It has a built-in monitoring system. But one can also install third-party monitoring mechanisms for support.

4. Scalability

Scalability is offered in both container orchestration platforms. Docker swarm offers autoscaling options. At the same time, Kubernetes offers to scale based on traffic. 

  • Docker Swarm: Dockers offer autoscaling options on instances and demand. It deploys containers quickly. It also offers fast orchestrating tools with on-demand scaling. 
  • Kubernetes: Kubernetes scales based on traffic. It provides built-in autoscaling options. It also involves creating new pods and scheduling them to nodes and available resources. 

Kubernetes Vs Docker Swarm

Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are both excellent platforms for container orchestration. They offer varied experiences, advantages and disadvantages to users. Both platforms serve varied purposes and are for different users. 

Docker Swarm is an easy tool preferred by beginners to manage containers at scale. It is especially used for non-complex workloads. Swarm is the right choice if one needs a fast orchestrating tool with built-in load balancing.

However, if one is working with complex workloads, then Kubernetes is the correct choice. It is specially made for complex and critical workloads. It offers security, flexibility, availability and monitoring. One can also benefit from features like autoscaling and built-in monitoring.


Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are both popular DevOps tools. These are prominent containerization technologies. They help in simplifying the deploying and managing process of a complex application. 

Companies around the world use these dev op tools for containerizing the workload. They also help in increasing productivity in the environment. However, Kubernetes and docker swarm are both very different in all aspects. 

Beginners use Docker swarm on the one hand. It is easy to use and helps in managing containers at scale. It is preferred for managing simple workloads. It also offers autoscaling and load balancers. Swarm can be used on all platforms and allows third-party integration for monitoring.

Kubernetes, on the other hand, is used by professionals. It has complex manual instructions for installation on different operating systems. Automonitoring and autoscaling are significant features of Kubernetes. One can also integrate third-party applications for load balancing. 

This shows that the two platforms are very diverse, and one must use them according to their needs. One must explore all the advantages and disadvantages before making a choice. They must choose subjectively and according to desired results. 

One can also refer to dev op online training and DevOp course to better understand Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. StarAgile also offers much for DevOp training. So don’t wait. Sign up now and start learning!

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