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List of Best Docker Container Clustering and Orchestration Tools/Services

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Docker, without a doubt, is an excellent open-source tool. However, you cannot have complex application deployments just with docker engine and containers. Proper plumbing has to be done for container orchestration in terms of deploying applications with complex architectures. Your containerized applications should be able to scale up and down based on application resource requirements.

What you need is a good framework for efficiently managing containers. Containers are meant to be short-lived, and when it comes to container orchestration, the following are the key things to consider are

  1. Networking
  2. High availability
  3. Ease of deployment
  4. Good service discovery.

Container Orchestration and Clustering Tools

In this post, we will cover the list of best container clustering and orchestrations tools which are being used in production by many companies.

1. Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source, out of the box container cluster manager and orchestration. It is built with an excellent scheduler and resource manager for deploying containers in a more efficient and highly available way.

Kubernetes has become the de facto container orchestration tool for many organizations.

The kubernetes project is maintained by google with contributors all over the world. It offers many functionalities that native docker tools don’t provide. Moreover, it is easy to get started with kubernetes.

kubernetes docker container orchestration

2. Openshift

Openshift is built on top of kubernetes. Openshift project is maintained by Redhat. It has both open source (openshift orgin) and enterprise version (openshift container platform).

Along with core Kubernetes features, it offers out of the box components for container management and orchestration.


3. Docker Swarm

The Docker ecosystem consists of tools from development to production deployment frameworks. In that list, docker swarm fits into cluster management. A mix of docker-compose, swarm, overlay network, and an excellent service discovery tool such as etcd or consul can be used for managing a cluster of Docker containers.

Docker swarm is still maturing in terms of functionalities when compared to other open-source container cluster management tools. Considering the vast docker contributors, it won’t be so long for docker swarm to have all the best functionalities other tools possess. Docker has documented a good production plan for using docker swarm in production.

docker swarm clustering

4. Mesos

Mesos is another cluster management tool which can manage container orchestration very efficiently. It was created by Twitter for its infrastructure and then got open sources. It is been used by companies like eBay, Airbnb, etc. Mesos is not a dedicated tool for containers,

Mesos is not a dedicated tool for containers, instead, you can use it for VM or Physical machine clustering for running workloads  (Big data etc) other than containers. It has an efficient framework called Marathon for deploying and managing containers on a Mesos cluster.

You can actually run a Kubernetes cluster on a Mesos cluster. Check out this guide for the same

mesos cluster manager for containersImage Source: container-solutions.com

Cloud-Based Managed Docker Container Orchestration Services

There are many cloud-managed container orchestration services that you can use to avoid complex cluster setups and administrative overhead.

Here is the list of 10 services where you just have to focus on your application rather than cluster administration.

1. Google Container Engine (GKE)

GKE  is a managed highly scalable container service on google cloud. At the backend, GKE uses kubernetes and you can use all the kubernetes functionalities on GKE. You can deploy a GKE cluster with few clicks.

2. Google Cloud Run

Cloud Run is a managed service to run containers in a serverless way. You don’t have to create a cluster, just deploy the container on cloud run and google will take care of scaling and managing it.

3. AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)

EKS is a managed Kubernetes cluster service from AWS similar to GKE

4. Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS)

ECS is a service offered by AWS for managing the cluster of containers. It is not based on kubernetes. ECS is an AWS managed proprietary container cluster management and scheduling service. The only thing you have to worry about is the vendor lock-in.

5. AWS Fargate

AWS farmgate is a similar serverless environment for running containers. Here you can choose the backend infrastructure to be EKS or ECS. You don’t have to worry about the backend scaling though. AWS will take care of managing and scaling .

6. Azure AKS Service

Azure Kubernetes Service is a managed highly available kubernetes service from Azure.

7. Azure Managed Openshift Service

Now public cloud providers are bringing openshift as service. Azure has a managed Openshift service in partnership with Redhat.

8. Azure Container Instances

Azure container instances is a managed serverless container deployment service like cloud run and Fargate.

9. Digital Ocean Kubernetes Service

The digital ocean offers a managed kubernetes service for deploying container-based applications. You can get free $100 credits from Digital Ocean

10. Red Hat OpenShift Online

Openshift online is one of the PaaS offerings from Redhat. You can deploy applications on the cloud with openshift using this service. You don’t have to manage the cluster as it is a pure PaaS service.


Choosing a tool or a service totally depends on your needs and the complexity of your application. There is no doubt in the fact that the above-mentioned tools and services are being used by many organizations for their production workloads.


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