Docker Swarm vs Rancher

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Docker Swarm

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Rancher

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Docker Swarm vs Rancher: What are the differences?

Docker Swarm: Native clustering for Docker. Turn a pool of Docker hosts into a single, virtual host. 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; Rancher: Open Source Platform for Running a Private Container Service. Rancher is an open source container management platform that includes full distributions of Kubernetes, Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm, and makes it simple to operate container clusters on any cloud or infrastructure platform.

Docker Swarm and Rancher can be categorized as "Container" tools.

"Docker friendly" is the primary reason why developers consider Docker Swarm over the competitors, whereas "Easy to use" was stated as the key factor in picking Rancher.

Docker Swarm and Rancher are both open source tools. Rancher with 11.8K GitHub stars and 1.31K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Docker Swarm with 5.61K GitHub stars and 1.11K GitHub forks.

Packet, Redox Engine, and VCCloud are some of the popular companies that use Rancher, whereas Docker Swarm is used by Docker, Bugsnag, and Dial Once. Rancher has a broader approval, being mentioned in 88 company stacks & 35 developers stacks; compared to Docker Swarm, which is listed in 80 company stacks and 38 developer stacks.

Advice on Docker Swarm and Rancher

Hello, we have a bunch of local hosts (Linux and Windows) where Docker containers are running with bamboo agents on them. Currently, each container is installed as a system service. Each host is set up manually. I want to improve the system by adding some sort of orchestration software that should install, update and check for consistency in my docker containers. I don't need any clouds, all hosts are local. I'd prefer simple solutions. What orchestration system should I choose?

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Replies (1)
Mortie Torabi
Recommends
Docker SwarmDocker Swarm

If you just want the basic orchestration between a set of defined hosts, go with Docker Swarm. If you want more advanced orchestration + flexibility in terms of resource management and load balancing go with Kubernetes. In both cases, you can make it even more complex while making the whole architecture more understandable and replicable by using Terraform.

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Decisions about Docker Swarm and Rancher
Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 28 upvotes · 3.3M views

Our whole DevOps stack consists of the following tools:

  • GitHub (incl. GitHub Pages/Markdown for Documentation, GettingStarted and HowTo's) for collaborative review and code management tool
  • Respectively Git as revision control system
  • SourceTree as Git GUI
  • Visual Studio Code as IDE
  • CircleCI for continuous integration (automatize development process)
  • Prettier / TSLint / ESLint as code linter
  • SonarQube as quality gate
  • Docker as container management (incl. Docker Compose for multi-container application management)
  • VirtualBox for operating system simulation tests
  • Kubernetes as cluster management for docker containers
  • Heroku for deploying in test environments
  • nginx as web server (preferably used as facade server in production environment)
  • SSLMate (using OpenSSL) for certificate management
  • Amazon EC2 (incl. Amazon S3) for deploying in stage (production-like) and production environments
  • PostgreSQL as preferred database system
  • Redis as preferred in-memory database/store (great for caching)

The main reason we have chosen Kubernetes over Docker Swarm is related to the following artifacts:

  • Key features: Easy and flexible installation, Clear dashboard, Great scaling operations, Monitoring is an integral part, Great load balancing concepts, Monitors the condition and ensures compensation in the event of failure.
  • Applications: An application can be deployed using a combination of pods, deployments, and services (or micro-services).
  • Functionality: Kubernetes as a complex installation and setup process, but it not as limited as Docker Swarm.
  • Monitoring: It supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when the services are deployed within the cluster (Elasticsearch/Kibana (ELK), Heapster/Grafana, Sysdig cloud integration).
  • Scalability: All-in-one framework for distributed systems.
  • Other Benefits: Kubernetes is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), huge community among container orchestration tools, it is an open source and modular tool that works with any OS.
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Pros of Docker Swarm
Pros of Rancher
  • 54
    Docker friendly
  • 45
    Easy to setup
  • 39
    Standard Docker API
  • 37
    Easy to use
  • 22
    Native
  • 21
    Free
  • 12
    Clustering made easy
  • 11
    Simple usage
  • 10
    Integral part of docker
  • 5
    Cross Platform
  • 4
    Labels and annotations
  • 3
    Performance
  • 2
    Shallow learning curve
  • 2
    Easy Networking
  • 103
    Easy to use
  • 79
    Open source and totally free
  • 63
    Multi-host docker-compose support
  • 58
    Load balancing and health check included
  • 58
    Simple
  • 44
    Rolling upgrades, green/blue upgrades feature
  • 42
    Dns and service discovery out-of-the-box
  • 37
    Only requires docker
  • 34
    Multitenant and permission management
  • 29
    Easy to use and feature rich
  • 11
    Cross cloud compatible
  • 11
    Does everything needed for a docker infrastructure
  • 8
    Simple and powerful
  • 8
    Next-gen platform
  • 7
    Very Docker-friendly
  • 6
    Support Kubernetes and Swarm
  • 6
    Application catalogs with stack templates (wizards)
  • 6
    Supports Apache Mesos, Docker Swarm, and Kubernetes
  • 6
    Rolling and blue/green upgrades deployments
  • 6
    High Availability service: keeps your app up 24/7
  • 5
    Easy to use service catalog
  • 4
    Very intuitive UI
  • 4
    IaaS-vendor independent, supports hybrid/multi-cloud
  • 4
    Awesome support
  • 3
    Scalable
  • 2
    Requires less infrastructure requirements

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Cons of Docker Swarm
Cons of Rancher
  • 7
    Low adoption
  • 8
    Hosting Rancher can be complicated

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What is 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.

What is Rancher?

Rancher is an open source container management platform that includes full distributions of Kubernetes, Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm, and makes it simple to operate container clusters on any cloud or infrastructure platform.

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What companies use Docker Swarm?
What companies use Rancher?
See which teams inside your own company are using Docker Swarm or Rancher.
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What tools integrate with Docker Swarm?
What tools integrate with Rancher?

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What are some alternatives to Docker Swarm and Rancher?
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.
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.
Apache Mesos
Apache Mesos is a cluster manager that simplifies the complexity of running applications on a shared pool of servers.
CoreOS
It is designed for security, consistency, and reliability. Instead of installing packages via yum or apt, it uses Linux containers to manage your services at a higher level of abstraction. A single service's code and all dependencies are packaged within a container that can be run on one or many machines.
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.
See all alternatives