For organizations that are selecting a container management solution, it’s important to understand a given solution in combination with the vendor that provides that solution. This is because each container management provider offers a variety of additional features and tools that play a key role in determining the nature of their container management solution.
However, clearly the process of choosing a container management solution must revolve around the specific features of a given solution. These may include:
- Automated rollouts and rollbacks
- System health monitoring
- Scaling and flexibility
- Management capabilities
- The ability to integrate containers with existing hardware and software. Although containers are agnostic – they work across many different environments – there are limitations. For example, Windows and Linux containers are not interoperable.
- A platform that handles containers and microservices.
Numerous companies offer solutions and platforms in the container management space. Below are listed the top eight top vendors/solutions. All of these products and platforms have been widely deployed in the enterprise. We’ve selected these vendors based on the reputations of their products, the breadth and depth of the features they deliver, analyst reviews, customer testimonials and other independent research.
- AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS)
- Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
- Diamanti D10
- Google GKE
- Hyper-V Containers
Amazon ECS supports Docker containers and its own proprietary Fargate technology. ECS is a highly scalable platform allows users to install and operate their own container orchestration software, manage and scale a cluster of virtual machines, or schedule containers on those virtual machines.
This includes long-running applications, microservices, batch jobs and machine learning applications. The AWS container offering integrates with numerous other AWS services, including elastic Load Balancing, Amazon VPC, AWS IAM, Amazon ECR, AWS Batch, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudFormation, AWS CodeStar, and AWS CloudTrail. AWS also offers Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS).
Amazon Web Services is the is the clear leader in market share for cloud infrastructure. It holds 41.5 percent of application workloads in the public cloud. This makes it a focal point for organizations, including any company considering containers.
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) provides a powerful managed tool for using and orchestrating containers, and dynamically scaling infrastructure and applications. AKS provisions clusters using the Azure portal and Azure CLI, or with infrastructure-as-code tools such as Azure Resources Manager and Terraform.
AKS offers several key features: control plane telemetry, log aggregation, and container health visibility as part of the Azure portal. It also features auto upgrades, patching and self-healing capabilities.
With nearly 30 percent of market share based on application workloads, Azure is also at the center of enterprise cloud initiatives. What’s more, its market share is growing. The service aims to simplify DevOps by introducing highly automated processes, which compliments container management.
Diamanti’s D10 bare-metal container platform offers a unified solution that hosts and runs containerized applications at scale. It plugs into existing VLAN and DNS infrastructure.
The “hyper-converged” container platform tilts toward high performance applications by integrating networking and storage functions. This guarantees real-time service levels and high utilization levels. The appliance ships with pre-integrated container software, including Docker and Kubernetes. It provides dashboards and reporting functions via a browser, CLI or REST API, and Diamanti OS.
Originally DataWise Systems, the company changed its name in 2016.
Docker introduced the concept of containers and containerization in 2013. The widely used open source platform has become a standard, and the technology is now available for both Windows and Linux.
One of the appealing features of Docker is that it integrates with the Linux kernel and thus operates in all versions of Linux. Docker Enterprise Edition (DEE), the commercial product from Docker, Inc. allows enterprises to federate applications deployed on-premises, in cloud environments and managed Kubernetes.
This includes cloud platforms such as AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). As a result, Docker supports extended supply chains. Docker now offers several products that revolve around containerization.
The Kubernetes Engine provides a high level of flexibility for organization using containers and microservices. It’s possible to run the containers on-premises, in the Google cloud and all other environments that support Kubernetes. Google boasts the ability to deploy a cluster in seconds and update production code seamlessly. The platform supports an array of features, including identity and access management, auto-scaling, auto-upgrading, stateful application support, docker image support, workload portability, and various security and compliance features.
This management and orchestration system for Docker runs in the Google public cloud, which handles about 3 percent of application workloads worldwide. It benefits from the breadth and depth of the Google Cloud Platform.
The open-source container orchestration platform, developed by Google in 2015 and now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, has become a powerful tool for deploying, automating, scaling and managing components.
Kubernetes is built on a model that defines building blocks and uses them to manage activities related to software development. It has been incorporated into numerous cloud platforms and it works with various container tools, including Docker.
The Kubernetes API allows it to handle basic scheduling units called pods. The containers reside in a pod, which connects to a volume, such as a local disk directory or a network disk. This simplifies container management and creates services, which are essentially groups of pods that work together.
This platform handles nested virtualization within Hyper-V. It allows users to tap Docker as well as its own Windows PowerShell cmdlets using a command-line interface. Hyper-V is intended to be a lighter weight configuration platform that pushes or pulls containers from the Docker Hub or a local repository.
Hyper-V Containers each contain a copy of the Windows kernel and have memory assigned directly to them. This creates strong isolation, which is valuable for delivering comparable isolation found in Virtual Machines. This means they can run “non-trusted” and multi-tenant applications on the same host.
Microsoft introduced Hyper-V Containers with Windows Server 2016; it also introduced Windows Server Containers at that time.
The OpenShift Container Platform, offered by Red Hat, is an on-premises platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) product. It relies on Docker containers that are orchestrated by Kubernetes, running on Red Hat’s Linux operating system.
The environment handles both cloud-native and legacy applications through an on-demand and pluggable architecture. It includes strong built-in automation and a focus on unified operations. The environment has a reputation for being fast, easy to manage and secure.
The OpenShift platform benefits from Red Hat’s extensive knowledge of enterprise IT. (Red Hat was recently acquired by IBM.)
Container Management Solutions at a Glance:
|Features||Supported platforms||Key Features||User comments||Pricing and licensing|
|AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS)||Docker; Fargate. Works with Windows and Linux.||Includes elastic Load Balancing; Amazon VPC; AWS IAM; Amazon ECR; AWS Batch; Amazon CloudWatch; AWS CloudFormation; AWS CodeStar; and AWS CloudTrail.||High ratings. Users like the ease of deployment, features and ease of use.||Two-tiered system based on resources used. Additional costs for other AWS services integrated with ECS.|
|Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)||Kubernetes. Works with Windows and Linux||Cluster autoscaling; Ability to add and remove nodes dynamically; works with Azure portal and Azure CLI; or with infrastructure-as-code tools such as Azure Resources Manager and Terraform.||Users say the product has undergone significant improve-ments, including the ability to scale AKS.||Included with Azure account. Users pay for nodes and resources used|
|Diamante||Docker and Kubernetes. Works with Windows and Linux||Appliance uses proprietary OS. It can be plugged into an existing infrastruc-ture. Supports Ethernet or VLANs. Provides integrated SSD storage.||High marks for easy setup, powerful features and ability to use existing tools. A few complain about lack of support for certain platforms, such as Openshift.||N/A|
|Docker||Windows and Linux. Works with most major cloud platforms.||Includes developer services; registry services; policies and governance; app lifecycle management; container orchestration; networking and storage support; and Docker Engine. Offers certified plug-ins.||Users like the powerful features and capabilities and the cost. Some complain about slow performance.||Free version and three enterprise versions. Pricing starts at $750 per node per year.|
|Google GKE||Kubernetes Engine orchestrates Docker and other containers formats in Google Cloud. Windows and Linux.||Eliminates independent Kubernetes clusters. solution Auto scales; auto upgrades and includes auto repair features. Includes a built-in dashboard and a private container registry.||High ratings. Users like the power and flexibility of GKE and the low-latency environment.||Variable based on compute resources used.|
|Hyper-V Containers||Docker; Kubernetes. Windows and Linux.||Runs multiple container instances concurrently on a host. Provides kernel level isolation between each Hyper-V container and the container host. Encapsulates libraries, binaries, and the application inside a Windows container.||Generally high marks for implementation and integration with Microsoft products and tools. A few say that the product is difficult to work with and not as stable as other hypervisors.||Within the service fabric the platform is free.|
|Kubernetes||Supports Docker and other container tools. Windows and Linux.||Supports service delivery and load balancing; storage orchestration; automated rollout and rollbacks; batch execution; automated binpacking; self-healing; horizontal scaling. Powerful scheduling through pods.||High marks for infrastructure management and orchestration. Some complain that the platform and certain features can be difficult to use.||Free open source version but some vendors offers proprietary tools at varying costs.|
|Red Hat OpenShift||Docker and Kubernetes. Linux.||Supports applications in Java, Node.js, .NET, Ruby, Python, PHP and other languages, and provides JBoss middleware simplify integration and orchestration.||Strong integration and powerful orchestration. Works well with Linux containers. Some complaints about the user interface.||Free version for small groups; larger groups and enterprise pricing varies.|