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Helm vs Rancher: What are the differences?


Helm and Rancher are both popular tools used in the DevOps ecosystem. While Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes applications, Rancher is a container management platform. Let's explore the key differences between the two tools.

  1. Deployment Methodology: Helm follows a package-based deployment methodology, where applications are packaged as charts and deployed using the Helm package manager. On the other hand, Rancher focuses on managing containers and orchestrating clusters, allowing for more fine-grained control over deployments.

  2. Management Capabilities: Helm primarily focuses on application deployment and version management. It allows for easy installation, upgrading, and rollback of applications using Helm charts. Rancher, in addition to application management, provides a comprehensive platform for managing containerized infrastructure, including cluster management, container orchestration, and workload scheduling.

  3. Scope of Control: Helm operates at the application level, providing a layer of abstraction for managing applications in Kubernetes clusters. Rancher, on the other hand, operates at the infrastructure level and provides a unified management interface for multiple Kubernetes clusters, allowing for centralized monitoring and control over the entire containerized infrastructure.

  4. Community Support and Ecosystem: Helm has a vibrant and active community, with a wide range of community-maintained Helm charts available for various applications. It is widely adopted and integrated with other tools in the Kubernetes ecosystem. Rancher also has a strong community with active development, but its focus on managing infrastructure makes its ecosystem more geared towards container management and orchestration tools.

  5. Ease of Use: Helm provides a simple and straightforward approach to application deployment and management using Helm charts. It offers a convenient command-line interface and is relatively easy to set up and get started with. Rancher, on the other hand, offers a more comprehensive set of features, which can make it slightly complex for beginners. However, once configured, Rancher provides a user-friendly interface for managing containers and clusters.

  6. Vendor Lock-In: Helm is an open-source project and can be used with any Kubernetes distribution. It offers flexibility and avoids vendor lock-in by providing a standardized approach to application deployment. Rancher, being a container management platform, offers additional features and functionalities beyond Kubernetes, which may lead to some vendor lock-in if organizations heavily rely on Rancher-specific features.

In Summary, Helm focuses on application deployment and version management using Helm charts, while Rancher provides a comprehensive container management platform for managing infrastructure and clusters, allowing for centralized control and monitoring.

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Pros of Helm
Pros of Rancher
  • 8
    Infrastructure as code
  • 6
    Open source
  • 2
    Easy setup
  • 1
  • 1
    Testa­bil­i­ty and re­pro­ducibil­i­ty
  • 103
    Easy to use
  • 79
    Open source and totally free
  • 63
    Multi-host docker-compose support
  • 58
    Load balancing and health check included
  • 58
  • 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
  • 2
    Requires less infrastructure requirements

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Cons of Helm
Cons of Rancher
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 10
      Hosting Rancher can be complicated

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    What is Helm?

    Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.

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

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    Blog Posts

    May 21 2020 at 12:02AM

    Rancher Labs

    KubernetesAmazon EC2Grafana+12
    Apr 16 2020 at 5:34AM

    Rancher Labs

    What are some alternatives to Helm and Rancher?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
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