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Docker Swarm vs Portainer: What are the differences?

Docker Swarm: Native clustering for Docker. Turn a pool of Docker hosts into a single, virtual host. 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; Portainer: Simple management UI for Docker. Portainer is an open-source lightweight management UI which allows you to easily manage your Docker environments Portainer is available on Windows, Linux and Mac. It has never been so easy to manage Docker !.

Docker Swarm and Portainer can be primarily classified as "Container" tools.

"Docker friendly" is the top reason why over 44 developers like Docker Swarm, while over 29 developers mention "Simple" as the leading cause for choosing Portainer.

Docker Swarm is an open source tool with 5.61K GitHub stars and 1.11K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Docker Swarm's open source repository on GitHub.

Docker, Bugsnag, and Dial Once are some of the popular companies that use Docker Swarm, whereas Portainer is used by Viadeo, Betaout, and Bluestem Brands. Docker Swarm has a broader approval, being mentioned in 80 company stacks & 38 developers stacks; compared to Portainer, which is listed in 23 company stacks and 17 developer stacks.

Advice on Docker Swarm and Portainer

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
Docker 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 Swarm and Portainer
Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH | 28 upvotes 路 3.1M 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 Swarm
Pros of Portainer
  • 54
    Docker friendly
  • 45
    Easy to setup
  • 39
    Standard Docker API
  • 37
    Easy to use
  • 22
  • 21
  • 12
    Clustering made easy
  • 11
    Simple usage
  • 10
    Integral part of docker
  • 5
    Cross Platform
  • 4
    Labels and annotations
  • 3
  • 2
    Shallow learning curve
  • 2
    Easy Networking
  • 35
  • 25
    Great UI
  • 17
  • 12
    Easy to setup, gives a practical interface for Docker
  • 11
    Fully featured
  • 9
    Because it just works, super simple yet powerful
  • 8
    A must for Docker DevOps
  • 6
    Free and opensource
  • 4
    It's simple, fast and the support is great
  • 4
  • 3
    Template Support

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Docker Swarm
Cons of Portainer
  • 7
    Low adoption
    Be the first to leave a con

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    - No public GitHub repository available -

    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.

    What is 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.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    What companies use Docker Swarm?
    What companies use Portainer?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Docker Swarm or Portainer.
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    What tools integrate with Docker Swarm?
    What tools integrate with Portainer?

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    What are some alternatives to Docker Swarm and Portainer?
    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.
    Rancher is an open source container management platform that includes full distributions of Kubernetes, Apache Mesos and Docker Swarm, and makes it simple to operate container clusters on any cloud or infrastructure platform.
    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鈥檚 goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
    Apache Mesos
    Apache Mesos is a cluster manager that simplifies the complexity of running applications on a shared pool of servers.
    It is designed for security, consistency, and reliability. Instead of installing packages via yum or apt, it uses Linux containers to manage your services at a higher level of abstraction. A single service's code and all dependencies are packaged within a container that can be run on one or many machines.
    See all alternatives