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Docker vs Kubernetes: Pros and Cons

Containerisation and container-orchestration systems are the most sought after technologies in cloud computing today; so much so that these two have become the buzzwords of cloud computing. But despite the idea of containerization being pretty old, the first sellable product did not appear until the start of the 21st century.

Docker vs Kubernetes

Technically, the history of the virtualization goes as far back as 1979. That was the first time when the chroot system call was introduced in the Unix V7. This command could be used to change the root directory of a process, and hence was the first step towards the process isolation. But arguably the first practical implementation of the containerization, released in 2000, was the FreeBSD Jails.

This lets the users divide their system into smaller subsystems called ‘jails’. After that, a lot of virtualization tools rose to the surface including Linux VServer, Solaris Containers, Open Virtuzzo, and Process Containers. But arguably the most complete and scalable implementation was Linux Containers (LXC).


What is Docker?

Quoting Wikipedia, “Docker is a set of the platform as a service (PaaS) products that use OS-level virtualization”. What it means for you is that it is kind of like a virtual machine that puts much less burden on your machine. Everybody has one of those days when everything seems to be running fine on your end. But things come to a screeching halt when it’s run on the client’s machine — or worse, the program crashes altogether. No matter how optimistic you are, it’s quite hard to see them from an optimistic standpoint.

What Docker does to save you from such embarrassing circumstances is to capture a snapshot of the state of your system. This snapshot can then be used later to recreate the same environment in another machine, possibly in the client’s machine.


Docker was first introduced back in 2010 during the Y Combinator by Solomon Hykes and Sebastien Pahl. It was released for public at the PyCon, 2013. The earlier versions of Docker used to utilize the LXC at its core, but later they switched to their own library written in GO, libcontainer.

Docker use cases

The Docker is used for an array of different tasks including portable app deployment, server consolidation, and code pipeline management. Some of the reasons behind the popularity of Docker includes support for auto Docker-image creation, built-in version tracking system, and consistency across different environments.

  • Docker is used extensively for fast code deployment. Thanks to its immutable nature it simplifies the code deployment pipeline and eases the whole code development to deployment procedure.
  • The strength of Docker lies in providing far denser server consolidation compared to a traditional VM. Application isolation helps in saving precious computing resources by sharing a single OS.
  • Docker also finds utility in maintaining the multi-tenant applications. Docker makes it possible to create an isolated environment to run multiple tenant instances in a reproducible and hassle-free fashion.

Docker requirements

As the core library used in the backend is written in Go, it needs a fair amount of computing resources to function properly and effectively. It requires 4 GB of RAM for worker nodes and 8 GB of RAM for manager nodes.

Although it’s known to survive even in environments with as low memory as 512 MB, the reliability takes a big hit. It’s also recommended to have at least 3 GB of secondary memory and 4 GB of swap. For the software part, luckily it supports almost all the latest OSs.


Docker is well-documented and maintained. Head over to Docker’s official website to know more.


What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes (also written as K8s) is an open-source, container-orchestration system for fast-forwarding and automating application management and deployment. It provides a fault-tolerant environment on containers that can be used to host and run services such as NGINX and Jenkins.

It’s heavily used in the production environment to ensure fault tolerance in handling other containerization tools like Docker. Being an open-source project, most of the platforms including Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud provide support for Kubernetes.

The popularity of Kubernetes went over the roof over time. With more than 4 major releases in 2017, it quite unsurprisingly became the globally most discussed and second most reviewed project on GitHub.


Founded by Joe Beda, Brendan Burns, and Craig McLuckie, Kubernetes was released in mid-2014. They were soon joined by Brian Grant and Tim Hockin from Google. This project was heavily influenced by Google’s earlier Borg project. Kubernetes was later donated to Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Kubernetes use cases

Kubernetes gained tremendous popularity over the years. It can be utilized for running stateless apps while being easy to include into the CI/CD workflow.

  • Kubernetes is heavily used for running stateless applications. One such example would be NGINX, arguably the most popular open-source web server. Kubernetes provides Helm, a package manager that makes the task of configuring and deploying applications and services onto Kubernetes clusters a hundredfold easier.
  • Kubernetes can also be utilized for hosting stateful services. Using Kubernetes, a new version of the application can be deployed pretty easily. This has the advantage that it’s fairly fast as it doesn’t need to care about the underlying OS or configuration.
  • Kubernetes can be effortlessly integrated into the CI/CD workflow. Jenkins, for example, is a very popular CI tool that can be run as a pod from the Kubernetes. Jenkins Agent and Kubernetes as a whole automate the code integration process.

Kubernetes requirements

Kubernetes has a pretty moderate requirement sheet. It supports almost all the popular OSs including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, RHEL, HypriotOS, and Container Linux. Establishing a Master’s node requires at least 2 GB and worker node requires at least 1 GB of primary memory. A Master node and worker node require a minimum of 4 and 1 vCPUs respectively for working effectively.


More on how Kubernetes works and its implementation can be found on its official website and GitHub codebase.

Docker vs Kubernetes

Docker Kubernetes


Standalone containerization software that can be installed on any computer to run containerized applications Open-source, container-orchestration system
Maintaining authority Docker, Inc Earlier Google, now CNCF.
Project type Open-source Open-source
Installation Relatively harder and takes more time Relatively easier
Fault tolerance Low High
User base Evernote, 9GAG, Intuit, Buffer. Twitter, Spotify, Pinterest, eBay.


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