January 2022

Container orchestration tools are becoming increasingly popular among businesses around the world as they enable tech companies to deploy and manage composite and complex applications. Speaking of, Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are container technology. They are basically packages of software that have all of the essential and necessary ingredients such as dependencies, and configuration to run in any environment into a container unit  – referred as containerization. They offer everything necessary to successfully deploy an application. Both technologies are fast, reliable, secure, smart, portable, and super easy. But the debate surrounding docker swarm vs Kubernetes has been unable to reach a fertile conclusion. 

Many believe that Kubernetes is the right choice for orchestration while others do not so much. In this blog post, I will shed some light on the importance of container orchestration tools concerning docker swarm vs Kubernetes, when to use them, and the noticeable difference between the two. So, let’s dig in.

What is Container Orchestration?

If you have a large number of apps to run, as you likely do, containers come in handy, they make it easy for companies to manage apps, to turn them on and off based on demands.

They also let you move apps seamlessly on different servers. But you can not move container apps around very efficiently on your own. You need a management platform that would automatically spin containers, suspend them or shut them down and also control a network and data storage, that’s where orchestration platforms come in. They can provide several features such as provisions hosts, instantiating a set of containers, rescheduling failed containers, and linking them together.

In simpler words, container orchestration simplifies and automates the deployment, availability, provisioning, scaling, and networking of containerized apps. 

Docker, Kubernetes (also known as k8s), and Mesos are three popular container orchestration tools exceedingly used for implementation today – for managing multiple containers. 

When to Use Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes?

If you are a large enterprise, working with cloud technologies, and you need to deploy and manage hundreds of containers then container orchestration tools can certainly help you. You can use them in any environment where you employ containers.

With orchestration tools, you can easily deploy the same app across multiple environments. No need to redesign it. Additionally, microservices in containers help with developing a highly scalable and distributed system that eliminates the narrowing or congestion in the central database resultantly making it unchallenging to orchestrate services such as storage, networking, and security.

All this management, automated deployment, and self-contained execution environment give DevOps team additional support with automation and CI/CD workflows. 

What is the Difference Between Docker and Kubernetes?

Even though both docker and Kubernetes have their own advantages and disadvantages, yet they serve the same purpose. But one has to be better than the other or else there is no point. In this section, we will examine, which container orchestration tool to use. 


Docker Swarm 

First and foremost, it is an open-source orchestration tool that is developed by Docker inc. – which is ​​s a popular software framework for creating, deploying, and managing containers on both servers and the cloud. Docker Containers enable developers to disconnect the applications from the infrastructure as it allows for faster application deployment.  Docker Swarm, Docker Compose, Docker Images, Docker Daemon, Docker Engine are some of its main components, all responsible for different tasks and processes.

Speaking of, Docker Swarm is an orchestration management tool that runs on Docker applications. It was developed mainly to make sure that apps run effortlessly across multiple host machines or nodes – sharing the same containers. Docker Swarm also helps in the management of Docker cluster behaviors all within the docker platform itself. In short,  Docker Swarm is used to efficiently administer, deploy and scale a cluster/swarm of nodes on Docker.


Just like Docker, Kubernetes is also an open-source container orchestration tool and quite frankly more popular than docker swarm. It was released back in 2014 as an open-source version of Borg – a large-scale internal cluster management system. The initial release took place in the June of 2014 as the first Github commit, later in July biggest giants like Microsoft, RedHat, IBM et al. joined the Kubernetes community. Later Google entrusted it to CNCF (cloud-native computing foundation) for upgrades and maintenance.

If we talk about Docker swarm vs Kubernetes, then in comparison latter has a more challenging cluster structure. The builder does not end at nodes, in fact, it is additionally classified into configurations maps, pods, namespaces so on and so forth. Moreover, the developer community is continually making contributions for further enhancements. 

Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes: Differentiating Factors


According to Google trends, Kubernetes is more popular as compared to Docker Swarm. Moreover, Github also tells the same story. Docker Swarm has over 5k stars on Github, whereas Kubernetes lead the race with over 8k stars. Now, this huge difference is conspicuous to the fact, that Kubernetes has more leverage over Docker Swarm in terms of popularity.

Installation & Configuration

As mentioned earlier, Kubernetes has a complex structure which leads to an intricate and elaborate installation and configuration system. Moreover, the configuration processes may vary from OS to OS and requires a distinct command-line interface tool which is a challenge in itself.

On the contrary, Docker Swarm is not only easy to learn but is simpler and easier to install and configure. Unlike Kubernetes, it can comfortably work with an existing command-line interface. 


As far as the networking is concerned, Docker Swarm has two network models for each node joining a Swarm: an overlay network of services and a host-only bridge for all containers. This multi-layered overlay network authorizes safe and encrypted data traffic.

Conversely, Kubernetes has a flat, peer-to-peer network model that enables all pods to interrelate with one another and nodes for effective inter-cluster networking. Additionally, it requires two Classless Inter-Domain Routers (CIDRs) for Node IP Addressing and services.


Kubernetes offers several different enterprise-level security protocols such as RBAC authorization, secrets management, pod security policies, network policies, and SSL/TLS. Additionally, the use of cloud-native security tools can further intensify the security protocols.

On the other hand, Docker Swarm relies upon transport-level security aka TLS.

Graphic User Interface (GUI)

Kubernetes offers an in-built dashboard with all the necessary features that a user may need. It not only helps in the management of cluster resources but also easily allows developers to deploy containerized apps on a cluster. Plus it also lets you see error logs for efficient troubleshooting.

Opposingly, Docker Swarm does not offer any built-in dashboard or web user interface. It requires third-party tools such as Swarmpit or Dock Station.


Kubernetes has several in-built monitoring tools and solutions – which can effortlessly inspect services, pods, as well as containers, and also closely observe the behavior of a cluster. Moreover, Kubernetes also enables integration with external third-party integration tools.

Now if we look at Docker Swarm, unfortunately, it does not come packed with in-built monitoring tools. Therefore, one has to completely rely on third-party tools. In addition, monitoring in the docker swarm is a complex process since it has a huge magnitude of cross-node objects and services.

Load Balancing

Docker Swarm supports automatic load balancing and requires a DNS (domain name system) for distributing incoming requests towards a set-on service name. whereas Kubernetes uses an ingress for load balancing through which one can determine rules for routing traffic without generating a handful of load balancers.

Scaling & Availability

Last but not least, Docker Swarm can deploy containers much faster than Kubernetes which allows for faster application scaling. Speaking of availability, Kubernetes provides high availability since all pods are distributed among nodes. Additionally, Kubernetes is high fault-tolerant and can easily detect faulty pods to eliminate them instantly and replace them with newer ones.

Surprisingly, Docker Swarm also offers high availability. It replicates the services among nodes. The entire cluster is managed by the swarm manager per se and each manager node is upgraded based on state information. If by any chance the leader manager fails, it is instantly replaced by another to carry out the responsibility without having to compromise on the apps’ availability.

Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes: Which tool to choose in 2022?

Now it all comes down to the question of which container orchestration tool to choose in 2022. There’s no one definite answer because Kubernetes stands out for its configuration, authentication options, flexibility, monitoring, and security whereas Docker’s win lies in its simplicity and ease of use and set-up. Moreover, the docker swarm is more popular among the community of developers that prefer simple and fast deployments.

Simultaneously, Kubernetes is favored by enterprise-grade solutions that require extra security. In the end, it all depends upon your business needs, therefore, there is no right or wrong answer. But it is still safe to say that Kubernetes has established itself as a leading container orchestration tool in a short period of time. 


Fahad Ali, Author

Fahad is PM at ARFASOFTECH but has a knack for writing. He enjoys writing about the latest technologies and evolving trends. Most of his writings revolve around trending technologies and their integration into operations.

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