Software Development

Rancher vs Kubernetes: Similarities and Differences





Software Development


Rancher vs Kubernetes: Similarities and Differences

Published: 2023/11/16

5 min read

What are the differences between Rancher vs Kubernetes? The following blog will outline the role both platforms play in the containerization field and the value containerization itself can deliver to any organization.

There can be no doubt that having applications on our phones, laptops, tablets and TVs has given us more options than ever to consume content, make purchases, chat with friends, discover the quickest route to a given destination or even book a doctor’s appointment.

Applications like YouTube, Gmail, Outlook, Netflix, or Google Maps are all examples of applications we have all interacted with at some point in our lives, but what has helped them become so successful in today’s modern world?

One reason for this could be two open-source containerization platforms – Kubernetes and Rancher. But why are these two platforms important? While Rancher makes managing any containerization effort much easier, the Kubernetes security structure enables it to be improved on by anyone and standard Kubernetes functionalities enable containerized applications to scale up or down at speed.

In short, these platforms enable developers to build applications that will suit any audience size quickly and easily, while simultaneously giving them access to improvements created by developers across the globe which they can then incorporate into their own application if they wish to. But before we get into the “how” we need to start with the “what.” What exactly is containerization, Kubernetes and Rancher and how to choose between Rancher vs Kubernetes?

What is containerization?

In development circles “containers” refer to isolated packets of code that are used to run applications. This code, or container, contains everything apps need to run on any hosting system such as libraries, configuration files and frameworks. Furthermore, these containers are extremely lightweight and easily executable.

The containerization process itself also has another benefit – it keeps applications separate from different functionalities or software. This makes development easier and faster, while also ensuring that if any problems occur in the containerized application, these problems will not impact the rest of the company’s infrastructure. Containerization also ensures applications only need to be built once, before being run on any hosting system, as the application itself is self-contained, which of course, the name suggests.

This is the main reason why applications like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Outlook and Netflix work across all your devices with ease. They were built using the containerization model. But where do Kubernetes and Rancher fit into all this?

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes orchestrates application containers by automating container deployment, scaling and container management. Developed by Google, the Kubernetes environment provides a robust and easily scalable framework in just a few clicks that enables users to manage container clusters across multiple hosting systems. This blog will get into the differences between Rancher vs Kubernetes a little later.

What is Rancher?

Rancher is a multi-cluster Kubernetes management platform designed to ensure deploying and managing containerized applications across various cloud providers and data centers is much more streamlined. It provides an interface that is easy to understand and navigate, thereby enabling users to manage Kubernetes clusters and their associated infrastructure with ease, including managing multiple Kubernetes clusters at once.

Kubernetes vs. Rancher – important differences

So far, this blog has highlighted what containerization is and outlined the role Kubernetes and Rancher play in this field, but now it’s time to get into the meat of this topic – which platform is better for companies deciding between Rancher vs Kubernetes?

The short answer is, surprisingly, neither. Eagle-eyed readers have probably already gleaned that these two platforms work best when working with each other, with Kubernetes driving a company’s containerization efforts and Rancher managing all the moving parts associated with it.

However, there are still some key differences when it comes to discussing the pros and cons between Rancher vs Kubernetes that companies need to be aware of. These differences cover four main areas:

Functionality and scope – Kubernetes manages the deployment, scaling and maintenance of containerized applications while Rancher sits on top of Kubernetes, enabling users to manage their containerization platforms through one dashboard that extends Kubernetes’ capabilities. This includes giving users the ability to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters at once, which in turn enables organizations to take advantage of the benefits containerization provides – regardless of their level of expertise in this area.

Cluster management – Kubernetes can only handle one cluster, while Rancher enables users to manage multiple clusters at once across multiple environments (on-prem, cloud or hybrid) through one centralized dashboard.

Ease of use and setup – Kubernetes can be quite difficult to setup and may even require a steep learning curve, as it needs manual configuration to succeed properly. Conversely, Rancher makes Kubernetes setup and management much easier thanks to its intuitive deployment tools and easy to navigate dashboard that enables applications to be launched, monitored and maintained across multiple environments and hosting systems.

Extensibility and integration – Kubernetes supports a wide range of plugins which makes it easier to integrate containerized applications with other tools or services. Rancher, on the other hand, offers all these same plugins while also offering a proven catalog of its own applications – including Prometheus – and the ability to integrate with CI/CD pipelines, and various cloud providers.

These are the main differences in the conversation being had around the Rancher vs Kubernetes debate, but as should be obvious after reading about both platforms, they work best the same way all the best business teams do – by moving towards the same goal, together.

Rancher vs Kubernetes – conclusion

As we close out this blog it is safe to say that the Rancher vs Kubernetes debate is misinformed. After all, how can two platforms that are designed to work in tandem to achieve success ever be seen to be in opposition to each other?

This debate aside, the value of containerization should be obvious, as the ability to build any application just once, and have it run successfully in any environment cannot be overstated. Indeed, the creators of Kubernetes and Rancher recognized this, which is why both platforms have remained open-source platforms from day one – giving anyone the ability to create the next revolutionary application in any given sector.

But while Kubernetes and Rancher are open to everyone, at Software Mind we understand that not everyone recognizes the value of these platforms or the fallacy in the Rancher vs Kubernetes debate. That’s why our proven development team is happy to talk about what Kubernetes and Rancher can do for you – wherever you are.

About the authorSoftware Mind

Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world. 

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