Kubernetes is an open-source container management software system developed by Google to help the company in its own operational management of containers. Kubernetes can be used to quickly and efficiently launch and load balance Docker containers.
Kubernetes automates the deployment, scaling and managing of containerized applications, with some of its essential containerization management features including service discovery, automatic load balancing, container replication and more, all powered via an HTTP API.
While Kubernetes is popularly used for managing Docker containers, it does have a few drawbacks, as it doesn’t offer the usability of a management system specifically developed with Docker in mind, and it presents a steep learning curve for many users and admins.
Kubernetes vs. Docker Management Tools Like Docker Swarm
With Kubernetes, which uses a different CLI (command-line interface), API and YAML definitions, it isn’t possible to use the native Docker CLI or Docker Compose for defining containers. As a result, some enterprises and admins opt for container management tools like Docker Swarm over Kubernetes.
In addition to Docker Swarm, other container management systems Kubernetes competes against include Rancher from Rancher Labs and Tectonic from CoreOS. (Kubernetes can also easily be installed and run on CoreOS.)
Google first announced Kubernetes in 2014, and with the Kubernetes 1.0 release in July 2015, Google partnered with the Linux Foundation to form the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and donated Kubernetes to the CNCF as a seed technology for container management.