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Cloud Native DevOps with Kubernetes: Is there still a place for Docker Swarm?

 
Greenhorn
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Hi John & Justin

I'm curious if you think there is still a place for Docker Swarm now that Kubernetes has become so dominate in container orchestration, and why or why not?

Cheers,
Greg
 
Greenhorn
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I feel conflicted about this. On the one hand, I like that there are choices and it's great to have options when choosing tech. For example, I hope that Hashicorp continues with Nomad and think that Nomad in some situations is a better fit than k8s right now.

I think it will be tough for Docker, Inc. to dedicate the time and resources necessary to fully support Swarm at the same level and cadence that k8s is seeing right now, along with also maintaining the community docker packages, supporting their enterprise customers, and keeping Docker Hub going as the current default for getting public docker images.

Personally I think that it would probably make sense for them to just go with k8s as their recommended platform for container orchestration and focus on their existing projects. There are certainly a lot more people in the open source community willing to work on k8s right now and without that energy and effort, no open source project can continue to grow and thrive.

But I also think there's a great market for people who want a much simpler version of k8s - something like AWS ECS or a distributed docker-compose, where they just want x number of y containers to be running somewhere, somehow, in a cluster. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently Swarm probably fits that better than k8s, but I think in the long run, that may not remain true. k8s will eventually get simpler, or at least it will be easier to get it up in running in a basic way, and it's going to be tough for the Swarm community to keep up at the same pace that k8s + cloud providers are moving, while also differentiating from Nomad enough where people who don't want k8s would just use that instead.
 
Greenhorn
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There's a massive advantage to everybody in standardising on a particular tool or format (container images, for example). In a sense it doesn't really matter what the specific choice is, so long as everybody uses it. With most markets there's some jockeying for position at the beginning as various offerings emerge, and then we often see a trend towards consolidation for exactly this reason. You end up with one, maybe two or three options, tops. Kubernetes has definitely reached that tipping point where even if something much better than Kubernetes came out, it just wouldn't have enough of a critical mass to be adopted.

While there are good things about Docker Swarm, I think it's a technical and commercial dead end. I imagine even Docker, Inc will have to acknowledge this at some point and end-of-life it. Maybe it'll find a small niche where it can cling on to some market share for a few years. In a sense it doesn't really matter: the paradigm has already shifted, and orchestrating containers in the cloud is the de facto standard way of doing things. The specific software you use to do that doesn't matter, as long as it conforms to standard APIs. In a few years I dare say it will be something else instead of Kubernetes, but it'll work essentially the same way, just as Docker Swarm does.

 
Greg Horie
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Thanks for your responses Justin and John.

I do think there's room in the market for a simpler solution and Swarm does fit this reasonably well, but I also see your point about Docker Inc.'s ability to manage this with all the other projects under their banner. In the end the priority will go to the products that are commercially viable and k8s will probably become easier to manage.

Cheers,
Greg
 
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