List of Best Docker Container Orchestration Tools/Services

docker cluster manager

Docker, without a doubt, is an excellent open-source tool. However, you cannot have complex application deployments just with the 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 and
  5. Security

List of Container Orchestration and Clustering Tools

This post will cover the list of the best container orchestration tools used in production by many organizations.

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.

Survey Report: According to CNCF’s Cloud Native Landscape, there are more than 109 tools to manage containers, but 89% are using different forms of Kubernetes.

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.

Also, check out our guide on kubernetes design considerations.

Important Note: Kubernetes removed Docker container run-time after version v1.20. This doesn’t mean docker images won’t work in kubernetes. It’s just that the underlying container runtime moved from Docker to runtimes that use CRI

kubernetes docker container orchestration

2. Openshift

Openshift is built on top of kubernetes. Redhat maintains the Openshift project. It has both open source (openshift origin) and enterprise version (openshift container platform).

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


3. Hasicorp Nomad

Nomad is an orchestration platform from Hashicorp that supports containers. It shares similar philosophy of kubernetes in managing applications on scale.

However, Nomad supports container and non-container workloads.

Nomad comes with good integration of other Hashicorp tools like Consul, Vault, and terraform.

Primary use-cases for Nomad are,

  1. Container Orchestration
  2. Non-containerized application orchestration.
  3. Automated service networking with Consul.

You can read about how Cloudflare uses Nomad for their dynamic task scheduling system

container orchestration using Nomad

4. 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 long for the docker swarm to have all the best functionalities other tools possess. Docker has documented a good production plan for using the docker swarm in production.

docker swarm clustering

5. Mesos

Mesos is another cluster management tool that 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 containers
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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.

It comes with features like autopilot to reduce operations costs.

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 that many organizations are using the above-mentioned tools and services for their production workloads.

If you look at our DevOps engineer guide, containers play an important role and have covered some containers’ great insights.

  1. Very well explained article on docker. As you mentioned it depends on the nature and complexity of the application we develop. Recently we have implemented kubernetes. I will definitely share this article with my devops team.

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