Are you looking for a container orchestration platform but unsure whether to go for Redhat OpenShift or Kubernetes? Both platforms have pros and cons, and choosing the right one for your business can be daunting. This blog will dive into the key differences between Kubernetes and OpenShift.

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Container orchestration is critical for running and managing containerized applications at scale. OpenShift and Kubernetes are the most popular container orchestration platforms available today. 

OpenShift is a Kubernetes distribution that offers additional enterprise features. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). 

Choosing the right platform for your needs can be challenging, especially when you're not sure of the differences between them. This blog will help you understand the distinctions between OpenShift and Kubernetes. We will also assist you in selecting the best option for your container management needs. 

Let's dive in!

What is a Container Orchestration System?

A container orchestration system is a tool that automates containerized applications' deployment, scaling, and management. Containerization enables developers to package their applications with all the necessary dependencies and run them consistently across various environments. 

However, managing and scaling multiple containers can be complex, especially in production environments. This is where container orchestration systems come in.

They allow you to manage containerized applications at scale by providing features such as automated container deployment, load balancing, scaling, and self-healing capabilities. These features ensure your application runs smoothly and consistently, regardless of the underlying infrastructure.

OpenShift vs Kubernetes - Definition

Regarding container orchestration, Kubernetes and OpenShift are two popular options that offer powerful features for managing containerized applications. 

Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates application deployment, scaling, and operations. 

On the other hand, OpenShift is a container platform that works with Kubernetes to help applications run more efficiently. Kubernetes clusters are the fundamental computing unit for both OpenShift and Kubernetes.

Let’s know about them in detail. 

What is OpenShift?

OpenShift is a container application platform that provides enterprise-level features and services for managing containerized applications. It is built on top of Kubernetes, which means it inherits all of Kubernetes' features and functionality. But it also adds tools and features to help manage the container application lifecycle. 

OpenShift offers a web-based console that makes it easy to manage and deploy containerized applications and built-in security and monitoring features. It is designed to provide a comprehensive platform for developers to build, deploy, and manage applications in a scalable, secure, and efficient manner. OpenShift is developed and maintained by Red Hat, a leading provider of enterprise open-source solutions.

What is Kubernetes? 

Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates containerized applications' deployment, scaling, and management. Google originally developed it and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). 

Kubernetes enables developers to deploy and manage containerized applications across multiple environments, from on-premises data centers to public clouds. 

It provides powerful features, including load balancing, auto-scaling, self-healing, and rolling updates. This ensures that applications are highly available and resilient to failures. 

OpenShift is Commercial. Kubernetes is Free.

OpenShift is a commercial product developed and maintained by Red Hat. That means it requires a subscription for access to enterprise-level features and support. 

On the other hand, Kubernetes is an open-source project that is completely free to use, modify, and distribute. 

This means anyone can download and use Kubernetes without cost or obligation. However, this does not mean that Kubernetes lacks enterprise-level features or support. 

Many organizations offer commercial support and services for Kubernetes, including Red Hat, which provides a Kubernetes distribution called OpenShift.

Choosing between OpenShift and Kubernetes largely depends on your organization's needs and budget. If you require enterprise-level features, support, and security, OpenShift may be your better option. 

However, it may be a more cost-effective choice if you hold the technical expertise and resources to manage Kubernetes on your own.

Also Read: Docker Swarm vs Kubernetes

Red Hat OpenShift vs Kubernetes: Architecture Differences

Regarding architecture, both platforms use similar concepts like pods, nodes, and services. However, OpenShift adds extra layers of abstraction, like projects, to simplify the management and deployment of containerized applications. 

OpenShift includes additional components like Operators, Build Configurations, and Image Streams, providing a comprehensive platform for managing containerized applications.

Overall, both OpenShift and Kubernetes are powerful tools for managing containerized applications. 

Kubernetes is entirely free and offers a more flexible, DIY approach to container orchestration. Whereas, OpenShift provides more advanced features and support for enterprise environments.

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OpenShift vs. Kubernetes: Ease of Installation

Installing and setting up a container orchestration platform can be challenging. While Kubernetes has multiple installation options, it can be challenging for beginners. 

OpenShift, on the other hand, offers more user-friendly installation options with preconfigured settings and wizards, making it easier to get started quickly. 

Overall, OpenShift is more accessible to newcomers, while Kubernetes offers more flexibility for experienced users.

Red Hat OpenShift vs. Kubernetes: UI & Web Console

OpenShift's web console provides a more comprehensive view of applications and resources, including logs, metrics, and alerts. It also includes a dashboard for monitoring and managing clusters. 

OpenShift's web console also allows for easier integration with other Red Hat products, such as Red Hat Ansible, for automation.

Kubernetes also has a web-based dashboard for monitoring and managing clusters, focusing on its core functionality of Kubernetes. It provides basic monitoring and control of applications but lacks some advanced features in OpenShift's console.

Overall, OpenShift's web console is more user-friendly and provides a comprehensive view of applications and resources. And Kubernetes' dashboard is more focused on the core functionality of Kubernetes.

Also Read: HashiCorp Nomad vs Kubernetes

Kubernetes vs OpenShift: Support

Kubernetes is an open-source project supported by many developers and contributors. It also has multiple vendors that provide commercial support, such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

OpenShift, on the other hand, is a Red Hat product with commercial support from Red Hat. This means that customers can access enterprise-level support, including SLAs, technical support, and Red Hat's knowledge base.

While Kubernetes has a larger community of developers and multiple vendors that provide commercial support, OpenShift comes with enterprise-level support from Red Hat. 

This may be an important consideration for organizations that require guaranteed support and SLAs for their container platforms.

OpenShift vs. Kubernetes: Security

Kubernetes has several built-in security features, such as role-based access control (RBAC), network, and pod security policies. These features allow administrators to control access to Kubernetes resources and enforce security policies at the network and pod levels.

OpenShift builds on Kubernetes' security features by adding additional layers of security. For example, OpenShift includes a feature called SCC (Security Context Constraints), which provides fine-grained control over the capabilities of containers. 

OpenShift also includes additional security tools like SELinux and sVirt for enhanced isolation and protection.

Overall, both Kubernetes and OpenShift offer robust security features. However, OpenShift provides additional layers of security and integrated scanning tools that may benefit organizations with high-security requirements.

Also Read: Top 24 Best Practices for Kubernetes (K8s)

Kubernetes vs Red Hat OpenShift: Templates

In Kubernetes, templates are defined using YAML files that describe the desired state of the Kubernetes resources. These resources can include pods, services, and deployments. 

Templates can be used to create reusable configurations for common deployment scenarios. For example, you can use templates to scale an application or deploy a new version easily.

Red Hat OpenShift also supports templates but provides additional features that make it easier to use and manage templates. 

OpenShift includes a web-based interface for creating and managing templates. That makes it easier to share and reuse templates across teams and projects. 

OpenShift templates also support parameterization, which allows developers to customize the templates for different environments or deployment scenarios.

Overall, both Kubernetes and OpenShift provide support for templates. But OpenShift's web-based interface and parameterization features make it a more convenient and user-friendly option for managing templates.

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OpenShift SDN vs OVN Kubernetes

OpenShift SDN is a software-defined network optimized for OpenShift and Kubernetes environments. It provides a multi-tenant network that isolates pods, manages IP addresses, and allows for dynamic routing. 

OpenShift SDN also provides built-in support for network policies, allowing administrators to define incoming and outgoing traffic rules.

Whereas OVN is a native virtual network solution for Kubernetes that provides network isolation, load balancing, and routing functionality. OVN uses the Open vSwitch (OVS) virtual switch integrated into the Linux kernel. 

OVN also supports network policies, allowing administrators to control network traffic based on various criteria.

Both OpenShift SDN and OVN provide powerful networking solutions for containerized applications. However, the choice between the two largely depends on the specific needs of your organization and the level of control you require over your network environment. 

OpenShift SDN may be a better fit for organizations that need tighter integration between their networking and container platforms. In contrast, OVN may be a better fit for organizations that require more flexibility and scalability in their network architecture.

OpenShift CLI and Kubernetes Kubectl

OpenShift CLI and Kubernetes kubectl are command-line tools for managing and interacting with containerized applications in their respective platforms.

The OpenShift CLI is a modified version of the Kubernetes kubectl command-line tool, which includes additional commands and functionality specific to OpenShift. 

For example, the OpenShift CLI includes commands for managing projects, templates, and image streams unavailable in kubectl.

On the other hand, kubectl is the primary command-line interface for managing Kubernetes clusters and applications. It allows users to deploy, inspect, and manage Kubernetes objects such as pods, services, and deployments.

Kubernetes vs Red Hat OpenShift: Container Image Management

In Kubernetes, container images are managed using the Kubernetes API and stored in container registries such as Docker Hub or Google Container Registry. 

Kubernetes provides a built-in container image puller. This can automatically download container images from the registry when a pod is scheduled to run.

OpenShift provides a more advanced container image management system called the Image Registry. The Image Registry provides security features, such as image scanning and multiple image sources, including external registries and local image build.

Overall, both Kubernetes and OpenShift provide robust container image management capabilities. But OpenShift's advanced features may be particularly attractive for organizations that require additional security and flexibility.

Also Read: What is Helm in Kubernetes?

Kubernetes vs Red Hat OpenShift: Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployments (CI/CD)

OpenShift includes a built-in CI/CD tool called OpenShift Pipelines, based on the open-source Tekton project. OpenShift Pipelines provides a flexible platform for creating CI/CD pipelines, supporting multiple steps and stages and parallel and sequential execution.

Kubernetes, on the other hand, does not have a built-in CI/CD tool. But it can integrate with various third-party CI/CD tools, such as Jenkins, GitLab, and Travis CI. However, the integration process can be more complex and requires additional configuration.

Ultimately, OpenShift provides a more integrated and streamlined platform for managing the entire CI/CD pipeline. At the same time, Kubernetes offers more flexibility and choice in selecting the right CI/CD tools for your specific needs.

OpenShift vs. Kubernetes: Techniques of Deployment

OpenShift and Kubernetes offer several deployment techniques, such as rolling updates, blue-green deployments, and canary releases. 

These techniques allow you to deploy new versions of your applications gradually, minimizing downtime and ensuring a smooth transition. 

OpenShift adds deployment techniques, such as A/B testing and GitOps, which enable you to automate deployments and reduce manual intervention.

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Kubernetes vs OpenShift: Which One Should You Choose?

When deciding between Kubernetes and OpenShift, it's important to consider your specific needs and use case. 

Small to medium-sized deployments or those who want more control over their container environment may prefer Kubernetes, which is a more lightweight and flexible solution. 

On the other hand, large-scale, enterprise-grade deployments may find that OpenShift's more comprehensive and integrated platform is better suited for their needs.

Additionally, if you are already using Red Hat products or need enterprise-grade support, OpenShift may be the better choice. 

However, if you prefer open-source solutions and don't require the added features and support provided by OpenShift, Kubernetes may be a more cost-effective option.

Ultimately, Kubernetes and OpenShift are powerful container orchestration platforms that offer many benefits for managing containerized applications. The decision of which one to use depends on your specific needs and priorities.

Also Read: Top 13 Heroku Alternatives


Is OpenShift more secure than Kubernetes?

OpenShift provides additional layers of security compared to Kubernetes, such as integrated container image scanning and a built-in registry. However, Kubernetes can be secured with the right configuration and additional security tools. Ultimately, the level of security depends on the specific use case and the measures taken to secure the environment.

Should I learn Kubernetes or OpenShift?

We recommend starting with Kubernetes if you are new to container orchestration, as it has a larger community, broader adoption, and more learning resources available. However, if you work in an enterprise environment with Red Hat products and need a more comprehensive container platform, learning OpenShift may be beneficial. 

Does Red Hat use Kubernetes?

Yes, Red Hat uses Kubernetes as the foundation for its OpenShift Container Platform. Red Hat has also contributed to the Kubernetes project and provides enterprise-grade support for Kubernetes deployments.