OpenShift vs. Kubernetes for developers

Comparing Kubernetes with Red Hat OpenShift is similar to the classical example that compares an engine with a car. You can’t do much with an engine by itself. You need to assemble it with other components in order to get the car from point A to B.

OpenShift is built on top of Kubernetes and includes its core components, but it bundles those with some essential features that are missing in Kubernetes. Those extra features ultimately provide the best experience to both developers and operation engineers.

So, let me ask you — do you want to learn all these commands and essentially manage your applications from the command-line interface — or do you prefer to save yourself some time and deploy, run, and manage your applications from a simple web console in your browser? The answer should be obvious.

1. Command-line interface vs. web console interface

One of the most distinctive features of OpenShift is its feature-rich web console that allows you to implement Kubernetes tasks and monitor your applications from a simple graphical interface. You can build, deploy, expose, scale, update, and almost implement any task, either as a developer or as an administrator. This is simpler than the CLI control that Kubernetes offers.

2. Cloud platform-specific vs. cloud platform-agnostic

As a developer you want to have the freedom to migrate your application from one cloud platform to another without redesigning and refactoring your application architecture. Kubernetes offerings differ from one cloud platform to another. Almost every major cloud provider offers a different flavor of Kubernetes. You get different sets of add-ons, plug-ins, and instructions for connecting your application to your cloud resources, which in most cases are specific to that particular platform.

With OpenShift container platform, your experience and the way you interact with the platform, for instance, the OpenShift web console, stays the same. Therefore, building, deploying, and managing applications with OpenShift container platform truly enables you to build it once and deploy it anywhere.

3. Manual configuration vs. automated workflows

As a developer, you want to focus on what you do best, which is coding, designing your application, adding new features, and collaborating with other developers without the hassle of reconfiguring your development environment several times.

OpenShift offers you that capability through a number of automated workflows, which are not available in Kubernetes. Those automated workflows are made possible by wrapping Kubernetes around a number of components, including an enterprise-grade Linux operating system, networking, monitoring, registry, and most notably, authentication and authorization.

4. Pre-created templates and Source-to-Image

To explore those automated workflows, let’s being with templates. OpenShift comes with pre-created quick start application templates to help you build your application, based on your favorite programming language, frameworks, and databases, with 1 click. And you may wonder how that “one click” notion is possible. OpenShift takes care of a lot of heavy-lifting tasks in the background, including pulling your source code, containerizing and deploying your application, with its powerful Source-to-Image (S2I) feature. So all you need to do is pointing your OpenShift cluster to your Git.

Unlike Kubernetes, you don’t need to containerize your applications in order to deploy them. And by enabling continuous deployment, whether you push your updates from git or manually update your images and containers, OpenShift allows you to fully control the deployment lifecycle by enabling continuous integration.

5. Open source vs. product

Finally, Kubernetes is an open source project, whereas OpenShift is a product based on an open source project. What you get with OpenShift includes enterprise support, ecosystem certification, and, most importantly, regular releases and security updates at every level of the container stack and throughout the application lifecycle. That is an opinionated integration of features to simplify and secure your applications.

I hope you found this quick comparison useful.

If you’re keen to gain the skills you need to propel your career into the world of microservices and container-based development, check out the Build Smart On Kubernetes World Tour portal. Our ongoing educational initiative aims to empower developers to innovate more and ship faster with OpenShift by giving you access to hundreds of online tutorials and events happening near you.