Difference Between Kubernetes Vs Openshift: What You Need to Understand

The global pandemic rapidly accelerated the digital transformation journeys of organisations across the world. As a result, technologies that were once considered niche or specialised have seen widespread adoption and increased recognition for the value they add. 

Containerisation can be understood as the process of bundling or combining various applications that ensure effective development, management and deployment across several infrastructures. This process helps companies to enhance agility and scalability. As a result, businesses can make their application development process more efficient. 

Among all the companies that apply containerisation, Kubernetes and OpenShift are the most popular options when it comes to container orchestration software today. Both of them are used to achieve the same goal but differ in how they reach there. 

More and more companies today have started recognising the benefits and advantages of containerisation software. According to a Redhat report from 2021, 46% of global companies recognised container orchestration software and applications as the top priority in software development for 2022. 

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OpenShift Vs Kubernetes - An Overview:

OpenShift is an open-source container platform developed by RedHat that runs on Linux and Kubernetes. OpenShift is essentially a PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering as it combines several services offered on the platform to meet unique business requirements from multiple clients. This includes Docker container images and Kubernetes itself, along with additional features exclusive to OpenShift. 

Kubernetes is also an open-source platform for container orchestration. It gives developers more control over software processing workloads while simplifying their management and maintenance for improved scalability and deployment. 

The Development and Evolution of Container Orchestration Software:

Before understanding the features of OpenShift vs Kubernetes, it would help to have a little background on how container orchestration has evolved to where it is today.

Container orchestration is not a new phenomenon and has been used since the early 1970s. At that time, VMs (virtual machines) had just replaced mainframe processing through advanced multi-system resource-sharing on one node or machine. Multiple virtual OS variants could be installed on a single node by the developer. They could use VM segmentation to allow multiple users to share and access the same resources. Developers could also now run and test applications within isolated environments. Insulation of applications from multiple processes allowed these applications to run simultaneously with fewer service disruptions and interruptions. 

In the past twenty years, load-balancing and space conserving container clustering technology came up in a big way. This type of software is today the leading design for container software to balance application loads, environment parity and speeds more securely.

In 2011, the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) OS saw the launch of the RedHat OpenShift platform. Over the next decade, OpenShift saw an exponential rise in demand with its new and innovative business-forward services. 

In 2013, Docker came out with its GUI-based open-source software that took container orchestration software a step further. It allowed users to improve how they created and controlled application development and also offered image streams. Around the same time, in 2014, Google came out with Kubernetes, also recognised as kube or k8, their signature cluster containerisation software. Today, the (CNCF) Cloud Native Computing Foundation by Linux manages Kubernetes and its deployments. 

What is Container Orchestration Software?

Software designed for container orchestration automates containers to help developers with configuration. These solutions are easy to build and deploy within any environment. Container technology essentially bundles application code into a unified event. This is combined with other critical data and libraries. This bundled code is categorised as a single unit as it is made up of fundamental process-oriented code. This allows the application to work more smoothly both on-premise and in a developer ecosystem. One of the most popular and widely-used container technology forms is cluster container orchestration. Kubernetes has been designed according to this technology.

Containerisation uses multiple node clusters, either virtual or real machines, all functioning as a single robust server. This ensures greater application isolation, space, faster processing and load balancing for developers as they work.

This technology helps businesses to function more smoothly using seamless software applications. It simplifies pod replication to help load balancing for enterprise applications and to minimise app failure. Cluster container orchestration helps run software more reliably and efficiently regardless of the device or platform - mobile, desktop, cloud or local networks. It helps you scale software more effectively.

What is Kubernetes:

Kubernetes can be called a Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) open-source framework. Google created Kubernetes about a decade ago as a portable containerisation system that allows developers to manage workloads and services. This software automates app scaling, deployment and operations. Today, Kubernetes is managed as a part of the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) by Linux and allows developers to benefit from capabilities such as process automation, self-monitoring, container balancing and storage orchestration. 

To fully optimise your usage of container orchestration software, it helps to know as much about it as you can. Take a look at some of the features of Kubernetes. With a strong understanding of cluster software and containerisation, you can help businesses reach a new level with their streamlined processes. 

Features of Kubernetes:

Kubernetes deployments and distribution aimed at software applications allow businesses to test, build and deploy applications more effectively and efficiently. The most dominant features of Kubernetes are:

  • CI/CD pipeline tools that allow visual VCS (Version Control Systems) and offer Docker registry and Kubernetes clusters
  • Creating and building storage for local or cloud-based maintenance
  • Automated roll-backs and roll-outs for load-balancing resources
  • Kubernetes Ingress provisions, an API-based function that streamlines user access externally
  • Standardising development to create, test, deploy and monitor applications
  • Availability on the Linux distribution package
  • Installation that drives ease and access

When thinking about DevOps, Kubernetes is the best option for the configuration and customisation of application templates using more command-line controls. Additionally, when it comes to Deploymentconfig and other controllers like replication or namespace, Kubernetes is the better choice as it is more comprehensive than OpenShift.

What is OpenShift:

OpenShift refers to a whole set of containerisation software solutions developed by Red Hat, a leading global open-source software provider. As stated by the organisation, OpenShift is a distribution while Kubernetes is a small part of a smaller distributed system. Fundamentally, OpenShift is a cloud-based container platform for Kubernetes. It is known to be both a PaaS offering and a containerisation software. 

OpenShift is also partially created on Docker, the other leading global containerisation platform. OpenShift provides consistent security, centralised policy management, built-in monitoring and Kubernetes container workload compatibility. It integrates easily with multiple tools, increases efficiency and allows provisions for self-service. In simple terms, there is no lock-in for the vendor. OpenShift was formerly known as Origin, which is an open-source platform. OKD allows developers to test, deploy and build applications on a cloud platform. It also provides support for Node.JS, Go, Ruby, PHP, Python, Java, Perl and other programming languages. 

Overall, OpenShift and Kubernetes provide a fully-functional CI/CD process. 

You May Also Like: Kubernetes vs Docker: A Helpful Guide for Picking One

Features of OpenShift:

OpenShift is an orchestration platform based on cloud computing which runs on the Linux platform. It also includes several access controls and additional features that several businesses consider essential. 

OpenShift has been designed for improved efficiency and scaling support for cloud-based application development on Amazon, IBM and several cloud services. Some of its best features are:

  • Standardised CI/CD pipeline definitions for simplified scaling and integration
  • Default container automation tools
  • Includes the Kubernetes CLI (command line interface) ‘kubect1’, along with ‘.oc’ which is the OpenShift CLI
  • A critical component of app development as it simplifies compatibility with other cloud platforms
  • Enables simple container application migration to a cloud platform
  • Supports Kubernetes as a platform and its features with additional security features
  • Builds on user access and line stability with comprehensive access and route controllers

The OpenShift platform is a more suitable option for any business looking for contemporary automation and compliance features. 

Differences Between Kubernetes and OpenShift:

Kubernetes, as well as OpenShift, both have a scalable and robust architecture that allows efficient large-scale application development, management and deployment. Both of them require the Apache Licence 2.0 to run. However, this is as far as their similarities go. There are several parameters where OpenShift and Kubernetes are entirely different. 

1. Deployment:

Kubernetes comes with greater flexibility as a framework. You can also install it on nearly any cloud platform like AWS and Microsoft Azure as well as all Linux distributions like Debian and Ubuntu. Meanwhile, OpenShift can only run on RHELAH (Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host), CentOS or Fedora. This limits the possibilities available for businesses, especially those that don’t use these platforms.

2. Security:

OpenShift has more strict security policies as compared to Kubernetes. For example, developers are not allowed to run a container as a root. OpenShift also provides enhanced security through its ‘secure by default’ option. On the other hand, Kubernetes doesn’t have in-built authorisation or authentication functions. Hence, the developer needs to manually build bearer tokens or authentication procedures. 

3. Support: 

Kubernetes has a large global community of active developers who consistently and continuously collaborate to improve the platform. The platform also supports multiple languages and frameworks. But OpenShift has a comparatively smaller community which is limited to only Red Hat Developers.

4. Updates and Releases:

Kubernetes comes out with four releases on average every year. Meanwhile, OpenShift stands at three a year. Kubernetes also supports multiple simultaneous or concurrent updates while the DeploymentConfig in OpenShift doesn’t. 

5. Networking:

Kubernetes doesn’t have a solution designed for networking. However, users can take advantage of network plug-ins from third parties. On the other hand, OpenShift comes with a dedicated networking solution known as Open vSwitch. This groundbreaking solution has three native network plug-ins. 

6. Templates:

Kubernetes provides easy-to-use Helm templates that offer a high level of flexibility. They are far ahead of all OpenShift templates that aren’t as user-friendly or flexible.

7. Image Registry Management:

Kubernetes was created without an integrated image registry. However, users can pull images from private registries and create their own posts. What’s more, users can also create personal Docker registries. 

OpenShift comes with an in-built image registry and can connect seamlessly with Red Hat and Docket. This allows developers to use image streams for effortless container image searches and management. 

8. Integrated CI/CD:

Kubernetes doesn’t have a fully functional CI/CD solution but has provisions for the same. As a user, you can create a complete CI/CD pipeline by integrating Kubernetes with specialised tools for automated monitoring, CI servers and testing. 

OpenShift also doesn’t have an end-to-end CI/CD solution but comes with a certified Jenkins container. This container functions as a CI server. 

9. User Experience and Interface:

Kubernetes is made up of a complex web interface that can possibly confuse freshers and new professionals in the industry. A user who wants to access the web GUI of Kubernetes needs to install its signature dashboard and use the kube-proxy feature to transfer their machine’s port to a cluster server. A user also creates bearer tokens for ease of authorisation and authentication as the dashboard cannot access the login web page. 

Meanwhile, OpenShift has an intuitive web console with one-touch login page access. It provides a form-based easy-to-use interface that helps you add, modify and delete resources. For this critical parameter, OpenShift has an advantage over Kubernetes. 

10. Container Image Management:

Kubernetes doesn’t provide any dedicated features for container image management. OpenShift allows developers to use Image Streams for the same. 

The Final Verdict - Kubernetes Vs OpenShift:

With Kubernetes, users have the benefit of collaborative working and peer-based knowledge through a large global community. Meanwhile, OpenShift is both a public cloud platform and a commercial container platform. Through this dual nature of Red Hat OpenShift, users can get benefits like dedicated support and regular updates. Additionally, OpenShift has an open-source version called OKD, which is a community platform that is self-supporting. This means users who choose OpenShift get exactly what they pay for.

To know more about OpenShift, your career can benefit greatly from a Red Hat certification. Enrol in a training course and start learning today.

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Armin Vans
Sheyans is a Android Certified Developer and certified professional with rich experience in Application Development, Programming, and Corporate training. He delivered training on CEH, CPENT, ECSA, Security+, CNDV2, CISSP, CISM, Android, iOS, Java, Objective C, Swift, and Xamarin Mobile Framework.

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