3 Open Source Container Management Tools (Comparison and Review)

The container revolution continues to make its way through the IT systems of corporate America – primarily because of the IT system efficiency it enables. While containerization dramatically increases the number of apps you can run on a single operating system, managing these containers – especially at scale – can prove to be a challenge.

To simplify the task of setting up and operating containers, the use of a container management tool is essential. These solutions, known as container orchestration tools, help operations staff decide where to run containers, how to run them in production, and which systems to put them on. This helps eliminate operational issues due to delays in properly deploying containers on a system.

The following is a list of some of the main issues facing IT admins that container management tools can help solve:

  • Application development
  • Container deployment and scaling
  • Automation of application builds, deployment, scaling, and health management
  • Container storage
  • Support of multiple languages and frameworks

Why you should considering using open source tools

While there are proprietary container management tools on the market, we are focusing on open source tools because of the benefits they provide, including:

  • Wider developer base resulting in greater application availability
  • Quicker bug fixes due to community access to the underlying code
  • Easier portability across platforms

1. OpenShift

OpenShift, Red Hat’s PaaS solution for enterprise applications, uses Docker and Kubernetes as its underlying container management engines. OpenShift is a powerful resource for orchestrating containerization at the enterprise level.

The solution integrates with Kubernetes to enable the automation of such functions as scaling, health management, deployments, flexible application development, and complete lifecycle maintenance for teams and apps.

OpenShift is easy to set up, and offers an intuitive user interface and rock-solid service stability, making it an excellent PaaS for operating a multitude of apps.

Benefits:

  • Self-service platform gives developers the ability to quickly build apps on-demand
  • Administrators can use the self-service platform for efficient environment orchestration
  • The web interface can be used to search for projects rapidly and intuitively, view project details, and add or delete project members
  • Supports the use of different languages, frameworks, and databases on one platform
  • Access to the Docker environment
  • Offers developers the ability to access various storage tiers utilizing Quality of Service (QoS) labeling
  • Open source so you can customize the product as needed
  • Platform host independent for greater hosting options
  • Allows full access to the operating environment using SSH

Enterprise pricing and support plans:

  • The OpenShift Online Starter plan, which can handle one project, is free. The Pro version is coming soon.

2. Docker

Docker is the leading provider of containerization tools. It offers a platform that is independent of any particular infrastructure and features complete stack portability for supporting apps across their full lifecycle. Docker’s platform has led the way in popularizing container usage by dramatically increasing the number of apps that can run on an individual server at the same time. It also supports packaging and shipping programs.

Docker has helped foster the DevOps revolution by facilitating collaboration between developers and operators, accelerating the process of creating and deploying applications. Its wide usage and broad applicability makes it an excellent container infrastructure tool, even if you use another tool for container orchestration.

Benefits:

  • Enables portability and predictability when developing, testing, and deploying a product
  • Stack independence allows for app and microservice deployment across platforms
  • Containerizes apps to avoid conflicts and improve security
  • Accommodates multiple containers and rapid scaling of nodes
  • Integrates with preexisting storage, networking, and authentication systems
  • Unified platform over the full app lifecycle either on-premises or cloud-based
  • Extensive third-party services linked to the Docker platform

Enterprise pricing and support plans:

  • Docker Enterprise Edition Basic starts at $750 per node per year
  • Docker Enterprise Edition Standard starts at $1,500 per month per node
  • Docker Enterprise Edition Advanced starts at $2,000 per node per year

3. Kubernetes

Kubernetes is a container orchestration engine. It offers an open source platform to manage the deployment and use of containers across your IT infrastructure. The tool was initially developed by Google, which spent 15 years building the platform before making it open source.

If you are using Docker containers, scaling, starting, and balancing them over a variety of Docker hosts can be a challenge – this is where a well-designed orchestration tool like Kubernetes can be invaluable. It can be integrated with your Docker platform to improve your ability to manage containers.

Kubernetes offers a high-level API to help logically group containers, enabling you to perform load balancing and specify container pools. The tool is especially helpful if you are performing complex big data operations or other enterprise-scale functions.

Benefits:

  • Large and vibrant developer/user community
  • One-tier platform so any containerized Linux application can run on it
  • Supports a multitude of applications; has the ability to run in excess of 1,000 nodes
  • Establishing clusters is easy to do
  • Large and active Slack and Stack Overflow communities support use of the product
  • Uses “virtual” ports to avoid difficulties with port management
  • Offers an add-on for easy logging
  • Cloud agnostic enables you to locate your cluster on Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, etc.

Enterprise pricing and support plans:

  • Kubernetes is free, open source software.

Final thoughts

At Shadow-Soft, we focus on helping enterprise organizations take the power back from their proprietary IT vendors by embracing open source technologies like OpenShift, Docker, and Kubernetes. Contact us to learn how open source container management tools can help you speed up application development and deployment.