Are you looking for the best Kubernetes alternatives? If yes, you have stumbled upon the right webpage. While Kubernetes is a great container orchestration solution, it is not the only option out there. There are some better alternatives out there.
In this article, we are going to talk about some of the best Kubernetes alternatives that you can use. So, without any further ado, let’s get started –
Kubernetes – What do we know about it?
Kubernetes, also known as K8s, is an open-source container orchestration solution offered by Google. Being an open-source tool, developers can use it for free, which is one of the main reasons it is so popular.
The tool lets you automate the deployment and management process of native cloud applications using cloud platforms or on-premise infrastructure. Kubernetes is really amazing and highly resilient as it supports zero downtime, container self-healing, scaling, rollback, and other capabilities.
Even though Kubernetes is one of the best container orchestration solutions out there, it has some drawbacks that make people look for its alternatives.
For example, Kubernetes is just way too powerful for most small to mid-level projects. It is good for massive scale development, but if you don’t have a high scale development need or do not have a distributed architecture, Kubernetes would not be a good choice.
Kubernetes is quite complex and has a steep learning curve. Even if you are a developer or have experience in DevOps, you will be required to spend some serious time learning this tool.
Besides that, even though the Kubernetes is an open-source tool, it requires you to set up a large-scale computing environment, increasing the cost of deployment and management of Kubernetes.
These are a few reasons people look for Kubernetes alternatives. The good thing is that there are plenty of tools designed for specific needs that can be used to replace Kubernetes. Below, we have reviewed some of the best ones.
We have categorized these Kubernetes alternatives into different types of deployment solutions, such as Container as a service (CaaS), Function as a service (FaaS), managed services, and more.
Best Kubernetes Alternatives – Our Top Pick👌👌
Let’s start with Container as a service Kubernetes alternative –
1. AWS Fargate – Serverless compute for containers
AWS Fargate entered the market in 2017, but despite being relatively a new player, AWS offers some really great features that make it a perfect Kubernetes alternative. The best thing about AWS Fargate is that it lets you launch containers without servers.
Basically, this serverless compute engine uses the Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) to run containers. It offers a very flexible computing model that allows developers to focus on developing, designing, and building the application instead of getting into configuring a cluster or selecting Amazon EC2 instances.
With this Kubernetes alternative, users don’t need to worry about provision, configuring, and scaling clusters for virtual machines. This completely eradicates the need to optimize cluster packing or choose the server types.
All these things increase the ability to speed up the deployment process of applications while enhancing the overall security and performance.
However, AWS Fargate has some drawbacks. For example, AWS Fargate is quite expensive, and since you will be paying according to the CPU and memory resources usage, it is quite challenging to predict its cost. Moreover, it is not that user-friendly, and to use it, you will need to have knowledge of certain other services.
Other than that, one biggest deal-breaker is that it doesn’t boast the orchestration capabilities, meaning it is suitable only for small, standalone services, microservices applications, and other processes that do not require interaction between components.
2. Azure Container Instances
Azure Container Instances is another great and very popular container solution that lets developers deploy containers without worrying about provision, server management, managing infrastructure, or anything else.
Azure Container is quite similar to AWS Fargate, but instead of Amazon ECS, it uses Microsoft’s Azure public cloud to host all your containers. Since you don’t need to manage the infrastructure and servers, Azure Container Instances make it extremely easy and fast to create containers on demand.
Creating containers using Azure Container Instances is quite fast and easy. You can either use the Azure portal or simply use the Azure CLI to create a container. Once your container is created, Microsoft will automatically configure and scale computing resources for that container according to the requirements.
This Kubernetes alternative further provides a hypervisor isolation function that lets you run each container group in isolation without sharing kernels. This gives you VM-level security while still preserving the speed and efficiency of lightweight containers.
ACI supports both Windows and Linux containers, which might not be a big deal for many but is still something that you can consider. It also allows you to use the images from public container registries such as Docker Hub, Azure Container Registry, and more.
The drawbacks of ACI are quite similar to AWS Fargate. For example, ACI is not good for processes requiring regular interaction between components or large-scale computing environments. It is only good for standalone services or microservice applications.
3. Google Cloud Run
Google Cloud Run is another Container as a service solution that lets you run stateless containers that can be automatically scaled by HTTP requests. It is a perfect tool for running all-in-one software bundles such as a Flask app, open-source software, and more.
All the containers that you create will be hosted on Google Cloud servers. Since there is no infrastructure to manage, developers and the team will have the freedom to focus completely on writing applications rather than worrying about provision, scaling, or more.
Using Google Cloud Run is quite simple and easy. All you have to do is provide your container location, and Google Cloud Run creates a container with your pre-built app and deploys it. However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
For example, the logic should be stateless, and you have to specify the combination of memory vs. CPU and a few other things.
The best thing about Google Cloud Run is that, unlike other CaaS options out there, Google Cloud Run is capable of managing complex applications that have multiple endpoints.
This makes Google Cloud Run a better Kubernetes alternative for people who want to create complex applications without getting into the task of managing infrastructure.
While services like Google Cloud Run make it extremely easy to split tasks into different pieces of logic, these are not good for situations where you have to design one container that can handle everything. This is the limitation with almost all CaaS, not only with the Google Cloud Run.
So, these were the three best CaaS Kubernetes alternatives. Now, let’s see some of the managed services that can be used as Kubernetes alternatives –
4. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
When we talk about managed services that can be used as Kubernetes alternatives, the first name that comes to my mind is none other than Google Kubernetes Engine.
Google Kubernetes Engine is a great choice for those who don’t want to invest in cloud infrastructure or are working in a multi-cloud environment.
The reason Google Kubernetes Engine is my favorite Kubernetes alternative is that Google is the original developer of Kubernetes. Not only that, but Google is highly involved in Kubernetes’ development. In addition to that, Google was also the first to introduce a managed Kubernetes service.
These are a few reasons why Google Kubernetes Engine is highly popular and regarded as the most mature Kubernetes service. Another good reason to use Google Kubernetes Service is that when you use GKE to create a cluster, you get access to other advanced Google Cloud Platform management features.
GKE lets you use Google Cloud Build to design container images taken from various container source code repositories. In addition to that, you can store all your container images in Google Container Registry.
Another good thing about using GKE is that it automatically upgrades the control planes and scales the cluster’s node instance count. It also boasts an automatic node health repair function that ensures that your nodes will be healthy and available without any issue.
GKE also offers the most available versions of the three managed services. Plus, you get the option to subscribe between three release channels – Rapid, Regular, and Stable. Each of these channels lets you choose between update churn and features and stability of the version.
With Google Anthos, you can even use GKE on-premises and with other public cloud services such as AWS. You can even use a container-optimized OS for the end nodes to ensure security, stability, and performance. Sadly, only one zonal cluster is free, but that is not a deal-breaker, especially from a managed Kubernetes service.
5. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
Initially, Azure offered this service as Azure Container Service (AKS), where they used to offer support to Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm along with Kubernetes.
However, after seeing the massive popularity of Kubernetes, Azure replaced Azure Container Service with solely dedicated to Kubernetes, Azure Kubernetes Service in 2018.
One of the good things about Azure Kubernetes Service is that it doesn’t require you to pay for the Control Plane, making it quite cost-effective, especially compared to other managed Kubernetes alternatives. On top of that, it integrates very well with all types of Microsoft products.
So far, Azure Kubernetes Services has been the fastest to release all newer versions of Kubernetes and their patches. However, it is not fully automatic, meaning you have to update some cluster components to a newer version manually. Azure is working on a fully automatic solution to fix this, but that is still in the development phase.
However, Azure Kubernetes Service does have an automatic node health repair function. This is really great for maintaining the health of nodes, their availability, and stability. As we already told you, the Control Plane is free, and you only have to pay per node.
The thing that impressed me the most about Azure Kubernetes Service is that it offers a really great environment for developers. For example, you can use the Kubernetes extension in VS Code to directly deploy your codes to Azure Kubernetes Service. Further, you can also use the Bridge to connect with AKS.
It gives you the ability to develop, debug and run your codes directly in a development machine as this machine was a part of your cluster. This removes the need to replicate dependencies to your IDE or development machine.
6. Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)
Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service is one of the most popular and widely used managed Kubernetes services out there, according to a survey conducted by CCNF.
This service offers deployment options on both EC2 and Fargate, meaning you can even use it on-premises as well as on Amazon infrastructure and other public clouds.
Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service simplifies and automates the deployment and management process of Kubernetes clusters. This service is based on the latest released open-source Kubernetes tool, meaning you will never lack any of the features and benefits of Kubernetes. Additionally, EKS is fully compatible with the Kubernetes ecosystem.
However, one major drawback of Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service is that it has the least amount of pre-configured solutions. This means it includes the most manual steps to upgrade cluster components and configure your clusters. Plus, it lacks automatic node heath repair functionalities.
EKS fully manages the Control Plane and offers the ability to scale master nodes as needed. This ensures high availability and options by deploying among multiple availability zones. EKS also boasts AWS GovCloud, meaning it has government cloud support.
This Kubernetes alternative helps you manage a wide range of Kubernetes setup and maintenance tasks such as the replacements of unhealthy instances, Kubernetes updates, and more.
Besides that, logging and monitoring can also be easily configured in the CloudWatch Container Insight tool. However, this tool still needs some improvement as it is not that intuitive.
Even though EKS is such a popular and widely used Kubernetes managed service, it has many drawbacks. For example, it is quite costly compared to Azure Kubernetes Service, costing you $0.10 per cluster per hour, which is quite high.
Plus, it requires quite a lot of manual tasks, such as installing upgrades for the VPC CNI, installing Calico CNI, and more. Unlike AKS, this service doesn’t even have any extensions for IDEs such as VS Code which can be used to develop EKS codes.
So, these were the three best-managed services that you use as Kubernetes alternatives. Other than this, you can also opt for the Platform as a service (PaaS) option when looking for Kubernetes replacements. Below we have shared some of the best PaaS Kubernetes alternatives –
7. OpenShift Container Platform
OpenShift Container Platform is a commercialized tool based on an open-source project initiated and managed by Red Hat. Also known as Red Hat OpenShift, this tool was previously known as Open Hat Origin. It is a very powerful containerization tool offered by Red Hat as a flagship software.
OpenShift is known for its top-notch security, in-built monitoring features, centralized policy management, and many other compatibility tools and features. As a developer, you can use it to create, test, and deploy applications directly on the cloud.
This platform is based on Docker-style Linux containers, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Kubernetes. This offers a superb combination of functionalities, features, and compatibility.
OpenShift also supports a wide range of programming languages, including Java, Python, PHP, Go, and Ruby, allowing you to write codes and scripts in the language you are most familiar and comfortable with.
One of the main reasons you should use OpenShift is its security. It has way more strict security policies than any other Kubernetes alternatives. For example, its policies even restrict users from using container images along with preventing developers from running containers as root.
Additionally, OpenShift uses the DeploymentConfig to update pods. It does this by using internal controls but does not support concurrent updates. This is one of the drawbacks of OpenShift, but it is installable on a handful of platforms such as Red Hat Linux, Fedora, and CentOS.
Compared to Kubernetes, OpenShift is relatively simpler to use. You directly get a login dashboard where you can easily access a handful of features to perform various tasks. It further supports CI/CD pipelines that make it easy to deploy your apps on OpenShift.
Rancher is another PaaS Kubernetes alternative. It is also open-source and allows you to run containers across multiple environments such as on-premises as well as public clouds.
It offers a high-quality web interface that makes the deployment process much faster and more convenient than Kubernetes.
Rancher has an in-built container management tool. Along with that, it lets you use any other container manager. Let’s say you want a feature that isn’t available in Rancher.
In that scenario, you use other container management tools such as Docker Swarm or Kubernetes on top of Rancher. Rancher also makes it quite simple and easy to configure these tools.
Besides that, Rancher supports the integration of a bunch of applications that can be easily deployed with a few mouse clicks. These integrations of other container management tools and a catalog of ready-made applications make it extremely easy to manage complex environments.
Further, Rancher captures computing resources from other private and public clouds and lets you seamlessly deploy Kubernetes resources on them.
The key features of Rancher include container load balancing, cross-host networks, multi-tenancy, persistent storage services, multi-cloud management, user management, built-in security for Kubernetes clusters, and more.
However, Rancher has some drawbacks too. For example, it is not a 100% ready-made solution like the OpenShift container or other services mentioned in this list. You can only deploy sources from Docker images, and you will also have some limitations with the database scaling.
One more thing that I like to mention is that even though OpenShift is relatively easier than Kubernetes, it requires you to have some container technology knowledge. You at least need to be able to create Docker images to deploy your own applications.
So, we have covered some Container as a service (CaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and managed Kubernetes alternatives, but there are some lightweight orchestrators also available that can be used as Kubernetes alternatives.
Below we have shared some of those lightweight orchestrators –
9. Docker Swarm
Docker Swarm is a platform that lets you build containerized applications, similar to Kubernetes. It is even one of the most popular and widely used Kubernetes alternatives. It lets you design and manages Docker engine clusters on top of the Docker platform.
Swarm is a feature that lets you create and manage clusters and schedule Docker Engines. It is a native feature of Swarm that you need to enable in Docker. However, once the Swarm mode is enabled, you can start using the Docker CLI to create, deploy and manage your cluster.
Docker Swarm makes it very easy to coordinate containers and assign tasks directly to container groups. On top of that, it also checks the health of the containers, manages their life cycles, offers redundancy and failure in the situations of a node failure, and more.
It also helps you perform rolling updates and scale containers according to the actual load and needs. This makes the deployment and scaling process much faster compared to Kubernetes. However, the automatic scaling function still needs some improvement, and its capabilities are less mature.
Docker lacks a dashboard, making it a bit difficult and confusing for a beginner. However, you can always install third-party tools to eliminate this issue. It further uses the DNS to distribute the requests to service names. This automatically assigns addresses to services, but the user can also select specific ports to run the service.
While Docker is really a good Kubernetes alternative, its functionalities are quite limited. The Docker community is also far smaller than Kubernetes. But the smoother learning curve and the Docker Engine make it a perfect choice for inexperienced operators to start with.
Lastly, we have Nomad on our list. Nomad is a container orchestration tool by HashiCorp that lets you deploy, manage and scale different workloads across multiple cloud platforms. It is a very simple and flexible workload orchestration tool that is comparatively easier to learn and use.
It offers a common pool of infrastructure from various platforms such as on-premises and public clouds that can be shared between multiple applications.
Instead of offering specialized container orchestration and automation tools, Nomad focuses on cluster management and container scheduling through bin-packing and optimized resource utilization.
Nomad clusters use Consul for configuration and management of cluster services. It automates the workload schedule by following an evaluation process to change the state of the node to match it with the desired state of the job.
It also checks nodes for emergent states and boasts self-healing functionalities. If the state of a node fails, it triggers a new evaluation, and after that, Nomad tries to fix the emergent state with the desired state of the system. This helps in restarting the application and recovering data in situations of failure.
Nomad offers device plugins, multi-region federation, GPU support, multi-cloud management, integration with the HashiCorp ecosystem, scalability to up to clusters of 10,000 nodes, and more. This definitely seems quite promising.
However, it lacks some functionalities when it comes to end-to-end container orchestration and flexible workload support. But overall, I would say HashiCorp Nomad is definitely a worthy choice when looking for Kubernetes alternatives.
There you have it – a detailed list of the 10 best Kubernetes alternatives.
Kubernetes is an amazing tool, but it is not the only option for container orchestration out there. There are plenty of good alternatives, and to help you pick the right one, we have shared some of the best ones on this list.
In this article, we have shared different types of Kubernetes alternatives that include some PaaS, CaaS, managed services, and some lightweight orchestration solutions. Each Kubernetes alternative that we shared in this list has its own pros and cons. Therefore, it is quite difficult to say that one is better than the other.
Instead of recommending any Kubernetes replacement, we suggest you go through the short review of each Kubernetes alternative that we have shared. This will help you understand which of these would be the right pick for you.
With that said, here I am wrapping up this article. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them in the comment section below. Our team will try to respond ASAP.