Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes — Which one should you use

AFour Technologies
4 min readOct 25, 2020


Container Orchestration has transformed the deployment of software and microservices. It is a fast-evolving field and Kubernetes, and Docker Swarm are the two leading players of the race. When it comes to Container Orchestration, probably nothing comes close to these two. They have their own unique features and pro’s which define them and their longevity. Though both run in a quite different way, the product remains the same.

As a developer, you must be wondering What is best and which one should you use? Well, not to worry! In this blog, we compare both major container orchestration tools along with their features and pro’s (and cons).

What is Docker Swarm?

Docker Swarm or Swarm is an open-source container orchestration tool by Docker. Its is used for scheduling and clustering containers. Swarm uses the standard Docker API and networking, making it easy to create an environment to work with the Docker containers. As a platform, Swarm has completely influenced and changed how software is packaged.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source container-orchestration framework for automating the deployment, scaling and management of computer applications. Originally developed by Google, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation now manages it. It offers the requisite resources for developing and deploying secure, scalable distributed applications.

The difference — Kubernetes and Swarm

Although both tools sound similar in terms of definition, there are some functional and technical variations which make them different from each other. Some are good and some may seem a little bit difficult in the eye of a developer. Here, we have listed both and will leave it on you to decide which one suits your requirements.

Installation — Is it similar?

Installation is completely manual In Kubernetes and it does take some serious time and planning to go over it. And are the installation guidelines same for all OS? No, they are different from OS to OS. Also, it demands the installation of various third-party tools like minikube/microk8s for the functionality of the Kubernetes environment.

When it comes to Docker Swarm, its installation is simple and less time consuming when compared to Kubernetes. We all know Swarm uses Docker hence, it is easy to learn and operate since only one set of tools is required to learn to build upon environment and configuration. Also, Swarm uses Docker API thus the command structure and architecture remains the same.


Kubernetes uses a flat networking model thus allowing all pods to interact and communicate with each other. The networking model specifies the policy on how pods will interact with each other. However, Kubernetes does require two different Classless Inter-Domain Routing, one for IP address and the other one is for services.

In the Docker Swarm, a cluster node creates an overlay network of services spanning all hosts and a host-only Docker Container Bridge Network. In Docker Swarm, users have the option of encrypting container data traffic on their own when creating an overlay network.


Kubernetes is known to be slightly better than Swarm when it comes to maintaining cluster strength. For distributed systems, it is more of an all-in-one framework. It is a complex system because it provides a unified set of APIs and strong guarantees of cluster status. This slows down the scaling and deployment of the container.

Compared to Kubernetes, Swarm is much more scalable. Containers can be deployed faster when it comes to large clusters and high cluster filling stages. The single update command is sufficient to deploy new replicas. This allows for fast reaction time when it comes to scale on demand.

The User Interface — GUI

If you are fond of Dashboards, Kubernetes is for you. The Interface given is a reliable dashboard, which can be used to monitor the cluster effortlessly. This can be a great boon to you if you’re not from a technical background because it doesn’t take any technical effort, and the instructions are in plain English.

Docker Swarm’s interface can be managed with the help of third-party tools such as, which provide easy UI management. On the other hand, the Docker Enterprise Edition Universal Control Panel provides you with an interface to manage clusters.

Monitoring — It is important!

Kubernetes supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when services are deployed in the cluster. Few of them include Elasticsearch, Grafana for monitoring the container.

Docker Swarm can only be monitored using third-party applications. However, since Swarm uses an open API, it is easy to connect and communicate with several applications.

So, which one to use?

Kubernetes supports higher demands of the container orchestration but more complexity while Docker Swarm provides a simple solution and is easy to get started. Docker Swarm has been quite popular with developers who prefer quick deployment and simplicity. At the same time, Kubernetes is used in production environments by various high-profile companies running popular services.

Both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm can run many of the same services but may need a slightly different approach to certain details. Contact us now and we will help you to decide on choosing the right tool for your container orchestration — suitable to your organizational needs.

AFour Technologies specializes in Container Orchestration services, with a fantastic team of experts to produce actual business results.



AFour Technologies

AFour Technologies is an ISO ISMS 27001:2013 certified organization that offers turnkey Software Product Engineering Services.