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Rancher
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Rancher vs Terraform: What are the differences?

What is Rancher? Open Source Platform for Running a Private Container Service. 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.

What is Terraform? Describe your complete infrastructure as code and build resources across providers. With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.

Rancher and Terraform are primarily classified as "Container" and "Infrastructure Build" tools respectively.

Some of the features offered by Rancher are:

  • Manage Hosts, Deploy Containers, Monitor Resources
  • User Management & Collaboration
  • Native Docker APIs & Tools

On the other hand, Terraform provides the following key features:

  • Infrastructure as Code: Infrastructure is described using a high-level configuration syntax. This allows a blueprint of your datacenter to be versioned and treated as you would any other code. Additionally, infrastructure can be shared and re-used.
  • Execution Plans: Terraform has a "planning" step where it generates an execution plan. The execution plan shows what Terraform will do when you call apply. This lets you avoid any surprises when Terraform manipulates infrastructure.
  • Resource Graph: Terraform builds a graph of all your resources, and parallelizes the creation and modification of any non-dependent resources. Because of this, Terraform builds infrastructure as efficiently as possible, and operators get insight into dependencies in their infrastructure.

"Easy to use" is the top reason why over 89 developers like Rancher, while over 80 developers mention "Infrastructure as code" as the leading cause for choosing Terraform.

Rancher and Terraform are both open source tools. Terraform with 17.4K GitHub stars and 4.77K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Rancher with 11.8K GitHub stars and 1.31K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Terraform has a broader approval, being mentioned in 490 company stacks & 298 developers stacks; compared to Rancher, which is listed in 88 company stacks and 35 developer stacks.

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.

What is Terraform?

With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
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    What are some alternatives to Rancher and Terraform?
    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.
    DC/OS
    Unlike traditional operating systems, DC/OS spans multiple machines within a network, aggregating their resources to maximize utilization by distributed applications.
    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.
    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.
    Helm
    Helm is the best way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes.
    See all alternatives
    Decisions about Rancher and Terraform
    John Kodumal
    John Kodumal
    CTO at LaunchDarkly | 3 upvotes 84.2K views
    atLaunchDarklyLaunchDarkly
    Ansible
    Ansible
    Spinnaker
    Spinnaker
    Terraform
    Terraform
    Packer
    Packer
    Armory
    Armory

    LaunchDarkly is almost a five year old company, and our methodology for deploying was state of the art... for 2014. We recently undertook a project to modernize the way we #deploy our software, moving from Ansible-based deploy scripts that executed on our local machines, to using Spinnaker (along with Terraform and Packer) as the basis of our deployment system. We've been using Armory's enterprise Spinnaker offering to make this project a reality.

    See more
    Joseph Kunzler
    Joseph Kunzler
    DevOps Engineer at Tillable | 9 upvotes 73.8K views
    atTillableTillable
    Amazon S3
    Amazon S3
    Amazon EC2
    Amazon EC2
    AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
    AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
    AWS CloudFormation
    AWS CloudFormation
    Terraform
    Terraform

    We use Terraform because we needed a way to automate the process of building and deploying feature branches. We wanted to hide the complexity such that when a dev creates a PR, it triggers a build and deployment without the dev having to worry about any of the 'plumbing' going on behind the scenes. Terraform allows us to automate the process of provisioning DNS records, Amazon S3 buckets, Amazon EC2 instances and AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)'s. It also makes it easy to tear it all down when finished. We also like that it supports multiple clouds, which is why we chose to use it over AWS CloudFormation.

    See more
    Terraform
    Terraform
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    AWS CloudFormation
    AWS CloudFormation

    I use Terraform because it hits the level of abstraction pocket of being high-level and flexible, and is agnostic to cloud platforms. Creating complex infrastructure components for a solution with a UI console is tedious to repeat. Using low-level APIs are usually specific to cloud platforms, and you still have to build your own tooling for deploying, state management, and destroying infrastructure.

    However, Terraform is usually slower to implement new services compared to cloud-specific APIs. It's worth the trade-off though, especially if you're multi-cloud. I heard someone say, "We want to preference a cloud, not lock in to one." Terraform builds on that claim.

    Terraform Google Cloud Deployment Manager AWS CloudFormation

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    Pedro Arnal Puente
    Pedro Arnal Puente
    CTO at La Cupula Music SL | 7 upvotes 158.7K views
    atLa Cupula Music SLLa Cupula Music SL
    Debian
    Debian
    Amazon EC2
    Amazon EC2
    Amazon S3
    Amazon S3
    Amazon RDS for Aurora
    Amazon RDS for Aurora
    Redis
    Redis
    Amazon ElastiCache
    Amazon ElastiCache
    Terraform
    Terraform
    Packer
    Packer
    Ansible
    Ansible

    Our base infrastructure is composed of Debian based servers running in Amazon EC2 , asset storage with Amazon S3 , and Amazon RDS for Aurora and Redis under Amazon ElastiCache for data storage.

    We are starting to work in automated provisioning and management with Terraform , Packer , and Ansible .

    See more
    Google Cloud IoT Core
    Google Cloud IoT Core
    Terraform
    Terraform
    Python
    Python
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    Google Cloud Deployment Manager
    Google Cloud Build
    Google Cloud Build
    Google Cloud Run
    Google Cloud Run
    Google Cloud Bigtable
    Google Cloud Bigtable
    Google BigQuery
    Google BigQuery
    Google Cloud Storage
    Google Cloud Storage
    Google Compute Engine
    Google Compute Engine
    GitHub
    GitHub

    Context: I wanted to create an end to end IoT data pipeline simulation in Google Cloud IoT Core and other GCP services. I never touched Terraform meaningfully until working on this project, and it's one of the best explorations in my development career. The documentation and syntax is incredibly human-readable and friendly. I'm used to building infrastructure through the google apis via Python , but I'm so glad past Sung did not make that decision. I was tempted to use Google Cloud Deployment Manager, but the templates were a bit convoluted by first impression. I'm glad past Sung did not make this decision either.

    Solution: Leveraging Google Cloud Build Google Cloud Run Google Cloud Bigtable Google BigQuery Google Cloud Storage Google Compute Engine along with some other fun tools, I can deploy over 40 GCP resources using Terraform!

    Check Out My Architecture: CLICK ME

    Check out the GitHub repo attached

    See more
    Interest over time
    Reviews of Rancher and Terraform
    Avatar of gonuts
    Michigan Technological University
    Review ofRancherRancher
    1. Consume too much unnecessary resource by just running rancher agent alone;
    2. Hard to recover from system failure
    3. Bad performance of load balancing (compare to dokcer swarm built-in LB or others).
    How developers use Rancher and Terraform
    Avatar of etlweather
    etlweather uses RancherRancher

    The whole infrastructure is managed through Rancher. It provides a simple interface to all the underlying tools - Docker, HAProxy (automatically configures load balancer from the containers).

    Avatar of Royal Icing
    Royal Icing uses TerraformTerraform

    Terraform makes it so easy to deploy AWS and Google Cloud services, with the declarative approach avoiding so many headaches of manual work and possible mistakes.

    Avatar of B霉i Thanh
    B霉i Thanh uses TerraformTerraform
    • Infrastructure as Code.
    • Central tool to deploy all infratructure: AWS, CloudFlare, StatusCake
    Avatar of sapslaj
    sapslaj uses RancherRancher

    Currently looking to move to Swarm or Kubernetes due to a few issues I have with Rancher.

    Avatar of InsideSales.com
    InsideSales.com uses RancherRancher

    We use Rancher for container orchestration and automated deployment pipelines.

    Avatar of Prime Technologies
    Prime Technologies uses TerraformTerraform

    The entire AWS environments is described and setup using Terraform.

    Avatar of Binded
    Binded uses TerraformTerraform

    All of our infrastructure is stored as code thanks to Terraform.

    Avatar of Razorpay
    Razorpay uses TerraformTerraform

    We orchestrate our AWS infrastructure using Terraform.

    Avatar of Dave Woolfenden
    Dave Woolfenden uses RancherRancher

    Enterprise-grade Kubernetes Distribution

    Avatar of Shiqiang Yu
    Shiqiang Yu uses RancherRancher

    Pull from CI/CD for live demo

    How much does Rancher cost?
    How much does Terraform cost?
    Pricing unavailable
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