Docker Compose vs Docker Swarm

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Docker Compose

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Docker Compose vs Docker Swarm: What are the differences?

Introduction

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Docker Compose and Docker Swarm, which are two popular tools used in container orchestration.

  1. Deployment: Docker Compose is designed for single-host deployments. It allows the definition and management of multiple containers within a single host. On the other hand, Docker Swarm is designed for multi-host deployments. It enables the creation and management of a cluster of Docker hosts, allowing containers to be distributed across multiple machines.

  2. Scaling and High Availability: Docker Compose does not provide built-in scalability and high availability features. It is mainly used for defining and managing container configurations on a single host. In contrast, Docker Swarm offers built-in scaling and high availability capabilities. It allows the replication of services on multiple nodes to ensure fault tolerance and increased performance.

  3. Service Discovery: Docker Compose relies on the links and networks specified in the compose file for service discovery. It does not provide advanced service discovery mechanisms. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, provides built-in service discovery. It offers a DNS-based service discovery mechanism that allows services to find and communicate with each other within the swarm cluster.

  4. Load Balancing: Docker Compose does not provide load balancing capabilities out of the box. Load balancing needs to be implemented externally using tools like NGINX or HAProxy. Docker Swarm, however, provides built-in load balancing. It distributes incoming requests among the various containers running the same service within the swarm cluster, ensuring efficient utilization of resources.

  5. Orchestration: Docker Compose focuses on managing containers within a single host, providing a straightforward way to define and run multiple containers together. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, provides orchestration capabilities for managing containers across multiple hosts. It offers features like automatic container distribution, node failure recovery, and rolling update deployments.

  6. Community: Docker Compose has been around for a longer time and has a larger community support. It has a wide range of resources, documentation, and community-contributed projects available. Docker Swarm, although it has gained significant popularity, has a comparatively smaller community. The resources and community support are not as extensive as Docker Compose.

In Summary, Docker Compose is used for managing containers on a single host, while Docker Swarm is designed for container orchestration across multiple hosts, providing features like scaling, high availability, service discovery, load balancing, and advanced container management.

Advice on Docker Compose and Docker Swarm

Hello, we have a bunch of local hosts (Linux and Windows) where Docker containers are running with bamboo agents on them. Currently, each container is installed as a system service. Each host is set up manually. I want to improve the system by adding some sort of orchestration software that should install, update and check for consistency in my docker containers. I don't need any clouds, all hosts are local. I'd prefer simple solutions. What orchestration system should I choose?

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Replies (1)
Mortie Torabi
Recommends
on
Docker SwarmDocker Swarm

If you just want the basic orchestration between a set of defined hosts, go with Docker Swarm. If you want more advanced orchestration + flexibility in terms of resource management and load balancing go with Kubernetes. In both cases, you can make it even more complex while making the whole architecture more understandable and replicable by using Terraform.

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Decisions about Docker Compose and Docker Swarm
Michael Roberts

We develop rapidly with docker-compose orchestrated services, however, for production - we utilise the very best ideas that Kubernetes has to offer: SCALE! We can scale when needed, setting a maximum and minimum level of nodes for each application layer - scaling only when the load balancer needs it. This allowed us to reduce our devops costs by 40% whilst also maintaining an SLA of 99.87%.

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Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 30 upvotes · 9.9M 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 Docker Compose
Pros of Docker Swarm
  • 123
    Multi-container descriptor
  • 110
    Fast development environment setup
  • 79
    Easy linking of containers
  • 68
    Simple yaml configuration
  • 60
    Easy setup
  • 16
    Yml or yaml format
  • 12
    Use Standard Docker API
  • 8
    Open source
  • 5
    Go from template to application in minutes
  • 5
    Can choose Discovery Backend
  • 4
    Scalable
  • 4
    Easy configuration
  • 4
    Kubernetes integration
  • 3
    Quick and easy
  • 55
    Docker friendly
  • 46
    Easy to setup
  • 40
    Standard Docker API
  • 38
    Easy to use
  • 23
    Native
  • 22
    Free
  • 13
    Clustering made easy
  • 12
    Simple usage
  • 11
    Integral part of docker
  • 6
    Cross Platform
  • 5
    Labels and annotations
  • 5
    Performance
  • 3
    Easy Networking
  • 3
    Shallow learning curve

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Cons of Docker Compose
Cons of Docker Swarm
  • 9
    Tied to single machine
  • 5
    Still very volatile, changing syntax often
  • 9
    Low adoption

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- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Docker Compose?

With Compose, you define a multi-container application in a single file, then spin your application up in a single command which does everything that needs to be done to get it running.

What is Docker Swarm?

Swarm serves the standard Docker API, so any tool which already communicates with a Docker daemon can use Swarm to transparently scale to multiple hosts: Dokku, Compose, Krane, Deis, DockerUI, Shipyard, Drone, Jenkins... and, of course, the Docker client itself.

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What companies use Docker Compose?
What companies use Docker Swarm?
See which teams inside your own company are using Docker Compose or Docker Swarm.
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What tools integrate with Docker Compose?
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What are some alternatives to Docker Compose and Docker Swarm?
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.
Docker
The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
Helm
Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.
Ansible
Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
Portainer
It is a universal container management tool. It works with Kubernetes, Docker, Docker Swarm and Azure ACI. It allows you to manage containers without needing to know platform-specific code.
See all alternatives