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Portainer vs Rancher: What are the differences?


Portainer and Rancher are both popular management platforms for Docker containers. While they serve a similar purpose, there are key differences between the two that set them apart. In this article, we will explore these differences and highlight their distinct features.

  1. User Interface: Portainer provides a clean and intuitive user interface, making it easy for users to navigate and manage their Docker environments. Rancher, on the other hand, offers a more comprehensive UI with advanced features, such as workload orchestration and infrastructure management.

  2. Scalability: Portainer is designed to work well with small to medium-sized deployments and may face limitations when it comes to scaling to larger infrastructures. Rancher, being a more robust solution, offers better scalability and can handle complex setups with hundreds or even thousands of containers.

  3. Multi-Cluster Management: Rancher excels in managing multiple clusters across different environments, including cloud providers and on-premises infrastructure. It provides seamless integration and orchestration capabilities for clusters, making it an ideal choice for organizations with diverse setups. Portainer, while capable of managing multiple clusters, has more limited options for integration and orchestration.

  4. Community Support and Extensibility: Portainer has a strong community support, with active contributors and regular updates. It also provides a plugin system that enables users to extend its functionality. Rancher, on the other hand, has a larger and more established community with extensive support for plugins, integrations, and third-party tools.

  5. Security and Access Control: Rancher offers granular access control and role-based permissions, allowing administrators to define fine-grained access policies for different users and teams. Portainer also provides access controls but with more limited options compared to Rancher.

  6. Support for Kubernetes: Rancher has built-in support for Kubernetes clusters, enabling users to manage both Docker and Kubernetes environments within a single platform. Portainer, while it can interface with Kubernetes clusters, doesn't provide native support for managing Kubernetes-specific features.

In summary, Portainer is a user-friendly and suitable solution for simpler container deployments, with a strong community support and extensibility. Rancher, on the other hand, offers advanced features, scalability, and seamless multi-cluster management, making it an ideal choice for larger and more complex container setups.

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Pros of Portainer
Pros of Rancher
  • 35
  • 26
    Great UI
  • 19
  • 12
    Easy to setup, gives a practical interface for Docker
  • 11
    Because it just works, super simple yet powerful
  • 11
    Fully featured
  • 9
    A must for Docker DevOps
  • 7
    Free and opensource
  • 5
  • 5
    It's simple, fast and the support is great
  • 4
    Template Support
  • 103
    Easy to use
  • 79
    Open source and totally free
  • 63
    Multi-host docker-compose support
  • 58
    Load balancing and health check included
  • 58
  • 44
    Rolling upgrades, green/blue upgrades feature
  • 42
    Dns and service discovery out-of-the-box
  • 37
    Only requires docker
  • 34
    Multitenant and permission management
  • 29
    Easy to use and feature rich
  • 11
    Cross cloud compatible
  • 11
    Does everything needed for a docker infrastructure
  • 8
    Simple and powerful
  • 8
    Next-gen platform
  • 7
    Very Docker-friendly
  • 6
    Support Kubernetes and Swarm
  • 6
    Application catalogs with stack templates (wizards)
  • 6
    Supports Apache Mesos, Docker Swarm, and Kubernetes
  • 6
    Rolling and blue/green upgrades deployments
  • 6
    High Availability service: keeps your app up 24/7
  • 5
    Easy to use service catalog
  • 4
    Very intuitive UI
  • 4
    IaaS-vendor independent, supports hybrid/multi-cloud
  • 4
    Awesome support
  • 3
  • 2
    Requires less infrastructure requirements

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Cons of Portainer
Cons of Rancher
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    • 10
      Hosting Rancher can be complicated

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    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.

    What is Rancher?

    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.

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    What tools integrate with Portainer?
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    Blog Posts

    May 21 2020 at 12:02AM

    Rancher Labs

    KubernetesAmazon EC2Grafana+12
    Apr 16 2020 at 5:34AM

    Rancher Labs

    What are some alternatives to Portainer and Rancher?
    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.
    Mesosphere offers a layer of software that organizes your machines, VMs, and cloud instances and lets applications draw from a single pool of intelligently- and dynamically-allocated resources, increasing efficiency and reducing operational complexity.
    Simple Docker App management for Mac OS X
    An API-driven CMS without forcing you to make compromises in how you implement your site. The CMS for developers. Manage content like collections, regions, forms and galleries which you can reuse anywhere on your website.
    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.
    See all alternatives