AWS Firecracker vs Kubernetes

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AWS Firecracker vs Kubernetes: What are the differences?


In this article, we will compare the key differences between AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes. Both Firecracker and Kubernetes are popular technologies in the field of cloud computing and container orchestration.

  1. Performance and Resource Isolation: One major difference between AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes is their approach to performance and resource isolation. Firecracker is designed to provide a lightweight and secure environment for running virtual machines (VMs). It achieves this by using a minimal kernel and a microVM architecture, which allows for fast startup times and strong isolation between VMs. On the other hand, Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that uses containerization technology to isolate application workloads. While containers offer good performance, they may not provide the same level of isolation as VMs.

  2. Container vs. Virtual Machine: Another key difference between AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes is the level of abstraction they provide. Firecracker operates at the level of virtual machines, allowing for the creation and management of multiple lightweight VM instances. This makes Firecracker well-suited for running applications that require strong isolation and security. Kubernetes, on the other hand, operates at the level of containers, which are lighter-weight and provide a more portable way to package and deploy applications. This makes Kubernetes a popular choice for managing containerized applications at scale.

  3. Orchestration vs. Hypervisor: AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes also differ in their primary focus. Firecracker is primarily a hypervisor designed to provide a secure and efficient execution environment for VMs. It focuses on managing the underlying infrastructure and provides APIs for orchestrating VM instances. On the other hand, Kubernetes is an orchestration platform that focuses on managing the lifecycle of containerized applications. It provides features such as auto-scaling, load balancing, and service discovery that are essential for running applications in a distributed and scalable manner.

  4. Bare-Metal vs. Cloud Environment: Firecracker and Kubernetes also target different deployment environments. Firecracker is designed to run on bare-metal servers or lightweight hypervisors, making it a good choice for on-premises or edge computing scenarios. On the other hand, Kubernetes is commonly used in cloud environments, where it can take advantage of cloud provider features such as auto-scaling groups and managed Kubernetes services. Kubernetes also has a broader ecosystem of tools and integrations for cloud-native application development.

  5. Control Plane vs. Runtime: The architectural difference between Firecracker and Kubernetes is also worth highlighting. Firecracker focuses on providing a lightweight hypervisor for running VMs, but it does not provide a complete control plane for managing and orchestrating VM instances. In contrast, Kubernetes provides a full-featured control plane that includes components such as the API server, scheduler, and controller manager. This makes Kubernetes a more comprehensive solution for managing containerized workloads, but it also adds complexity compared to the more focused approach of Firecracker.

  6. Vendor Lock-in: Finally, AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes differ in terms of vendor lock-in. Firecracker is an open-source project that can be run on any infrastructure, whether on-premises or in the cloud. This provides greater flexibility and avoids dependency on a specific cloud provider. Kubernetes, on the other hand, has become the de facto standard for container orchestration and is closely tied to cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. While Kubernetes can be run on any infrastructure, taking full advantage of cloud provider-specific features often requires using their managed Kubernetes services.

In summary, AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes differ in their approach to performance and resource isolation, the level of abstraction they provide, their primary focus on orchestration or hypervisor, the deployment environment they target, the architectural difference between control plane and runtime, and the level of vendor lock-in they entail.

Decisions about AWS Firecracker and Kubernetes
Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 30 upvotes · 9.2M views

Our whole DevOps stack consists of the following tools:

  • GitHub (incl. GitHub Pages/Markdown for Documentation, GettingStarted and HowTo's) for collaborative review and code management tool
  • Respectively Git as revision control system
  • SourceTree as Git GUI
  • Visual Studio Code as IDE
  • CircleCI for continuous integration (automatize development process)
  • Prettier / TSLint / ESLint as code linter
  • SonarQube as quality gate
  • Docker as container management (incl. Docker Compose for multi-container application management)
  • VirtualBox for operating system simulation tests
  • Kubernetes as cluster management for docker containers
  • Heroku for deploying in test environments
  • nginx as web server (preferably used as facade server in production environment)
  • SSLMate (using OpenSSL) for certificate management
  • Amazon EC2 (incl. Amazon S3) for deploying in stage (production-like) and production environments
  • PostgreSQL as preferred database system
  • Redis as preferred in-memory database/store (great for caching)

The main reason we have chosen Kubernetes over Docker Swarm is related to the following artifacts:

  • Key features: Easy and flexible installation, Clear dashboard, Great scaling operations, Monitoring is an integral part, Great load balancing concepts, Monitors the condition and ensures compensation in the event of failure.
  • Applications: An application can be deployed using a combination of pods, deployments, and services (or micro-services).
  • Functionality: Kubernetes as a complex installation and setup process, but it not as limited as Docker Swarm.
  • Monitoring: It supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when the services are deployed within the cluster (Elasticsearch/Kibana (ELK), Heapster/Grafana, Sysdig cloud integration).
  • Scalability: All-in-one framework for distributed systems.
  • Other Benefits: Kubernetes is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), huge community among container orchestration tools, it is an open source and modular tool that works with any OS.
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Pros of AWS Firecracker
Pros of Kubernetes
    Be the first to leave a pro
    • 164
      Leading docker container management solution
    • 128
      Simple and powerful
    • 106
      Open source
    • 76
      Backed by google
    • 58
      The right abstractions
    • 25
      Scale services
    • 20
      Replication controller
    • 11
      Permission managment
    • 9
      Supports autoscaling
    • 8
    • 8
    • 6
    • 5
      No cloud platform lock-in
    • 5
      Promotes modern/good infrascture practice
    • 5
      Open, powerful, stable
    • 5
    • 4
    • 4
      Quick cloud setup
    • 3
      Cloud Agnostic
    • 3
      Captain of Container Ship
    • 3
      A self healing environment with rich metadata
    • 3
      Runs on azure
    • 3
      Backed by Red Hat
    • 3
      Custom and extensibility
    • 2
    • 2
    • 2
      Everything of CaaS
    • 2
    • 2
      Easy setup
    • 2

    Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

    Cons of AWS Firecracker
    Cons of Kubernetes
      Be the first to leave a con
      • 16
        Steep learning curve
      • 15
        Poor workflow for development
      • 8
        Orchestrates only infrastructure
      • 4
        High resource requirements for on-prem clusters
      • 2
        Too heavy for simple systems
      • 1
        Additional vendor lock-in (Docker)
      • 1
        More moving parts to secure
      • 1
        Additional Technology Overhead

      Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

      - No public GitHub repository available -

      What is AWS Firecracker?

      Firecracker is an open source virtualization technology that is purpose-built for creating and managing secure, multi-tenant container and function-based services that provide serverless operational models. Firecracker runs workloads in lightweight virtual machines, called microVMs, which combine the security and isolation properties provided by hardware virtualization technology with the speed and flexibility of containers.

      What is Kubernetes?

      Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.

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      What companies use AWS Firecracker?
      What companies use Kubernetes?
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