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Many companies can’t operate efficiently without a good container orchestration tool. If you are one of them, you are probably comparing available solutions. OpenShift and Kubernetes are both very popular choices. We’ll provide you with a detailed comparison which we hope will help you solve your OpenShift vs. Kubernetes dilemma. Learn more here. 

The importance of container orchestration

Running containers in production may be challenging, especially when you deal with microservices because each of them usually runs in its own container. A containerized application can have hundreds of thousands of containers if you build a large scale, complex system. This is almost impossible to manage manually. Fortunately, companies can take advantage of container orchestration.

Container orchestration makes it easier to work with containers. It simply means the automation of many processes related to containerized workloads and container lifecycle management, including provisioning, deployment, scaling (up and down), networking, load balancing, etc. Automation of these processes simplifies the operations that need to be done and increases their efficiency. Container orchestration tools are capable of automatically restarting and scaling a container or cluster, and using them reduces the possibility of human error. 

Kubernetes – definition, advantages

If you are looking for an open-source tool for container orchestration, you have probably already heard something about Kubernetes. It is one of the most popular container-as-a-service frameworks. This solution is leveraged by companies to manage services and workloads. Kubernetes provides users with automation capabilities and various features required for container orchestration. 

There are multiple benefits of using Kubernetes for business purposes. It gives you more control over your workloads, but also performs self-monitoring and sends you notifications so you can focus on really important tasks. 

Here are some key features of Kubernetes:

  • easy installation and configuration 
  • users have access to some CI/CD pipelines tools that enable better control over systems 
  • seamless integration with Docker providers users with additional tools that can be used in various tasks
  • allows users to build storage to be maintained locally or in the cloud
  • automated resource load-balancing 
  • provides development standards for creating, testing, deploying and monitoring applications

These are of course only some of its significant features. You can read more about Kubernetes on our blog. 

OpenShift – definition, advantages

OpenShift is also a very popular solution for container orchestration. It is commercial, even though it was created by the open-source software provider, Red Hat. Now, this solution (partially built on Docker) is a cloud-based Kubernetes container platform that can serve as containerization software and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

OpenShift is compatible with Kubernetes, so they can be used together. Additionally, it can be integrated with many other, useful tools. It is secure and comes with built-in monitoring and centralized policy management. This solution’s performance is quite high, and it enables self-service provisioning. OpenShift supports many popular programming languages such as GO, Ruby, Python, Java etc. and modern development technologies such as Node.js. Developers can use it for building, testing and deploying applications in the cloud.

OpenShift’s key features include:

  • standardized CI/CD pipeline definitions for simpler integrations,
  • Kubernetes’ command line interface (CLI),
  • container automation tools,
  • compatibility with various cloud platforms,
  • strong security solutions (access controllers) aligned with compliance regulations

What is the difference between OpenShift and Kubernetes?

Compatibility

As these solutions are very popular, they are both compatible with many tools. Still, the list for Kubernetes is probably wider than for OpenShift, which is why this solution is often the first considered by developers searching for the best container orchestration service. Kubernetes has managed services on the three most often leveraged public cloud platforms:

  • GKE for Google’s GCP
  •  AKS for Azure
  •  EKS for Amazon AWS

OpenShift, on the other hand, has limited installation options. It can be installed on three Linux distributions, one of which users need to use:

  • Red Hat Atomic or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for OpenShift 3
  • RedHat CoreOS for OpenShift 4

User Interface

Kubernetes provides users with many useful features, but it is not easy to use, as its web interface is rather complex. In order to access its GUI, a user has to first install the Kubernetes dashboard and forward its local machine’s port address to the cluster server through kube-proxy. There is no login page for the dashboard, so the bearer tokens for authorization and authentication have to be created; so as you see, it is not really intuitive. In comparison, OpenShift seems to be better suited for less advanced users. It comes with an easy-to-use web console with a one-touch login page. You can perform tasks like adding, modifying and deleting resources using the form-based interface.

CI/CD solutions

OpenShift comes with an integrated, certified Jenkins container that acts as a CI server. Kubernetes has no comprehensive CI/CD solutions. Fortunately, it can be combined with automated monitoring and testing tools and CI servers so you can create a complete CI/CD pipeline on your own. You can use available third party plugins, such as CircleCI, to handle this more efficiently. 

Security

As was already mentioned, Kubernetes has no built-in authentication and authorization solutions of its own. This poses a challenge because you need to design and create authentication procedures (token bearing) to ensure security. By default, there is also no traffic encryption within a Kubernetes cluster, so securing your resources in Kubernetes requires some work and knowledge from your in-house team. OpenShift has a strong and well-defined security policy. It enables auditing, which provides you with security-relevant chronological records of user activities. Companies can leverage ETCD encryption for their cluster to better secure sensitive data. OpenShift also offers an integrated server for easier authentication and authorization.

Updates

With Kubernetes supporting multiple simultaneous upgrades, keeping your container orchestration tool up-to-date is really simple. All a user has to do, in order to get the most recent version, is to invoke the kubeadm upgrade command. You should remember to regularly backup your existing installation files, though. Updating can take more time in the case of OpenShift, as it doesn’t support multiple updates at the same time. You first need to get access to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux package management system, which allows you to install the most recent version of this tool.

Which container orchestration solution is the best for your business?

Kubernetes is a good solution for companies working with applications that require regular updates. It is flexible, but requires users to have more experience. OpenShift, though, is a great tool for organizations that rely on constantly accessible, dedicated support. It also has many inbuilt features that simplify app containerization, which makes it very popular among teams that follow Agile and DevOps. Either of these container orchestration solutions may be a good choice for your business. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about them and find the best tool for your company.

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Author

  • Tomasz is a Kubernetes Team Leader and CI/CD expert, evangelizing DevOps culture in DS Stream. For our customers, Tomasz is delivering end-to-end MLOps solutions on GCP and architecting Airflow as a Service mutli-cloud product. Never stopping to learn new technologies and spreading them in the organization. In previous life was Barça and Premier League fan, currently all free time spending on preparing a 2-year-old son to be a Robert Lewandowski's successor.

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