Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

Docker Compose

21.3K
16.1K
+ 1
501
Terraform

18.1K
14.2K
+ 1
345
Add tool

Docker Compose vs Terraform: What are the differences?

Docker Compose and Terraform are two popular tools used in the field of DevOps and infrastructure management. Let's explore the key differences between them.

  1. Ease of Use: Docker Compose is primarily used for managing and deploying Docker containers, providing a simple way to define and run multi-container applications. It focuses on managing containers and the services they provide. On the other hand, Terraform is a more comprehensive infrastructure provisioning tool that allows users to automate the setup and configuration of various cloud services and resources. It is used to manage infrastructure as code and handle the entire lifecycle of resources.

  2. Scope: Docker Compose has a narrower scope compared to Terraform. It primarily focuses on simplifying the deployment and management of containers within a single host system or cluster. It provides an easy way to define and link multiple containers within a single application. In contrast, Terraform has a broader scope and can be used to define and manage infrastructure resources across multiple cloud providers and services.

  3. Infrastructure Provisioning: Docker Compose does not have built-in capabilities for provisioning infrastructure resources. It primarily focuses on containerization and application deployment aspects. Terraform, on the other hand, specializes in infrastructure provisioning and configuration management. It allows users to define and manage cloud resources such as virtual machines, storage, networking, and more.

  4. Declarative vs Imperative: Docker Compose follows a declarative approach where users define the desired state of the application and let Docker Compose handle the provisioning and orchestration automatically. In contrast, Terraform follows an imperative approach, allowing users to explicitly define the steps and actions required to provision and configure resources.

  5. Resource Type Support: Docker Compose primarily focuses on managing containers and their interconnections, providing functionality for services, networks, and volumes. It has limited support for other resource types. In comparison, Terraform supports a wide range of resource types across various cloud providers, including virtual machines, databases, serverless functions, DNS records, and more. This makes Terraform more suitable for managing complex infrastructure setups.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: Docker Compose has a large and active community, primarily focused on containerization and application deployment. It benefits from the vast Docker ecosystem and integration with other Docker tools. Terraform also has a thriving community but is more diverse in terms of use cases since it can manage resources beyond containers. It integrates with various cloud providers and has a wide range of community-maintained provider plugins.

In summary, Docker Compose is a tool dedicated to managing and deploying containers, with a focus on simplicity and easy orchestration within a single host or cluster. On the other hand, Terraform is a comprehensive infrastructure provisioning tool that allows users to automate the setup of various cloud resources across multiple providers, going beyond containerization.

Decisions about Docker Compose and Terraform

Because Pulumi uses real programming languages, you can actually write abstractions for your infrastructure code, which is incredibly empowering. You still 'describe' your desired state, but by having a programming language at your fingers, you can factor out patterns, and package it up for easier consumption.

See more
Sergey Ivanov
Overview

We use Terraform to manage AWS cloud environment for the project. It is pretty complex, largely static, security-focused, and constantly evolving.

Terraform provides descriptive (declarative) way of defining the target configuration, where it can work out the dependencies between configuration elements and apply differences without re-provisioning the entire cloud stack.

Advantages

Terraform is vendor-neutral in a way that it is using a common configuration language (HCL) with plugins (providers) for multiple cloud and service providers.

Terraform keeps track of the previous state of the deployment and applies incremental changes, resulting in faster deployment times.

Terraform allows us to share reusable modules between projects. We have built an impressive library of modules internally, which makes it very easy to assemble a new project from pre-fabricated building blocks.

Disadvantages

Software is imperfect, and Terraform is no exception. Occasionally we hit annoying bugs that we have to work around. The interaction with any underlying APIs is encapsulated inside 3rd party Terraform providers, and any bug fixes or new features require a provider release. Some providers have very poor coverage of the underlying APIs.

Terraform is not great for managing highly dynamic parts of cloud environments. That part is better delegated to other tools or scripts.

Terraform state may go out of sync with the target environment or with the source configuration, which often results in painful reconciliation.

See more

I personally am not a huge fan of vendor lock in for multiple reasons:

  • I've seen cost saving moves to the cloud end up costing a fortune and trapping companies due to over utilization of cloud specific features.
  • I've seen S3 failures nearly take down half the internet.
  • I've seen companies get stuck in the cloud because they aren't built cloud agnostic.

I choose to use terraform for my cloud provisioning for these reasons:

  • It's cloud agnostic so I can use it no matter where I am.
  • It isn't difficult to use and uses a relatively easy to read language.
  • It tests infrastructure before running it, and enables me to see and keep changes up to date.
  • It runs from the same CLI I do most of my CM work from.
See more

Context: I wanted to create an end to end IoT data pipeline simulation in Google Cloud IoT Core and other GCP services. I never touched Terraform meaningfully until working on this project, and it's one of the best explorations in my development career. The documentation and syntax is incredibly human-readable and friendly. I'm used to building infrastructure through the google apis via Python , but I'm so glad past Sung did not make that decision. I was tempted to use Google Cloud Deployment Manager, but the templates were a bit convoluted by first impression. I'm glad past Sung did not make this decision either.

Solution: Leveraging Google Cloud Build Google Cloud Run Google Cloud Bigtable Google BigQuery Google Cloud Storage Google Compute Engine along with some other fun tools, I can deploy over 40 GCP resources using Terraform!

Check Out My Architecture: CLICK ME

Check out the GitHub repo attached

See more
Get Advice from developers at your company using StackShare Enterprise. Sign up for StackShare Enterprise.
Learn More
Pros of Docker Compose
Pros of Terraform
  • 123
    Multi-container descriptor
  • 110
    Fast development environment setup
  • 79
    Easy linking of containers
  • 68
    Simple yaml configuration
  • 60
    Easy setup
  • 16
    Yml or yaml format
  • 12
    Use Standard Docker API
  • 8
    Open source
  • 5
    Go from template to application in minutes
  • 5
    Can choose Discovery Backend
  • 4
    Scalable
  • 4
    Easy configuration
  • 4
    Kubernetes integration
  • 3
    Quick and easy
  • 122
    Infrastructure as code
  • 73
    Declarative syntax
  • 45
    Planning
  • 28
    Simple
  • 24
    Parallelism
  • 8
    Well-documented
  • 8
    Cloud agnostic
  • 6
    It's like coding your infrastructure in simple English
  • 6
    Immutable infrastructure
  • 5
    Platform agnostic
  • 4
    Extendable
  • 4
    Automation
  • 4
    Automates infrastructure deployments
  • 4
    Portability
  • 2
    Lightweight
  • 2
    Scales to hundreds of hosts

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Docker Compose
Cons of Terraform
  • 9
    Tied to single machine
  • 5
    Still very volatile, changing syntax often
  • 1
    Doesn't have full support to GKE

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

What is Docker Compose?

With Compose, you define a multi-container application in a single file, then spin your application up in a single command which does everything that needs to be done to get it running.

What is Terraform?

With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

What companies use Docker Compose?
What companies use Terraform?
See which teams inside your own company are using Docker Compose or Terraform.
Sign up for StackShare EnterpriseLearn More

Sign up to get full access to all the companiesMake informed product decisions

What tools integrate with Docker Compose?
What tools integrate with Terraform?

Sign up to get full access to all the tool integrationsMake informed product decisions

Blog Posts

GitHubPythonNode.js+47
55
72419
GitGitHubPython+22
17
14228
JavaScriptGitHubNode.js+26
20
4974
JavaScriptGitHubPython+42
53
21948
What are some alternatives to Docker Compose and Terraform?
Kubernetes
Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
Docker
The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
Docker Swarm
Swarm serves the standard Docker API, so any tool which already communicates with a Docker daemon can use Swarm to transparently scale to multiple hosts: Dokku, Compose, Krane, Deis, DockerUI, Shipyard, Drone, Jenkins... and, of course, the Docker client itself.
Helm
Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.
Ansible
Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
See all alternatives