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Top five container clustering and orchestration tools

How containers came to fame

Containers are a mature technology gaining traction in the telecom industry with the push toward virtualization. The lightweight technology enables service providers to run various, isolated applications on an individual server. Containers originally rose to stardom when Docker discovered a way to collapse large applications into bite-size chunks of code and run them on a single operating system (OS). Accompanying the rise of containers is a host of clustering and orchestration tools, which provide a framework for managing the technology across the infrastructure. Like any tool, container tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most popular container clustering and orchestration tools.


Kubernetes is arguably the most popular container orchestration system available. It is an open source platform, originally designed by Google engineers, that automates Linux container functions. The system is based on two main architectural components: cluster services and workers. Cluster services are fed a particular configuration and run the configuration on the infrastructure. The workers are container hosts, which communicate with the cluster services. Together, they make up the Kubernetes cluster. With the system, users can turn containers into various applications. Although Kubernetes is a complex system, it is fairly easy to set up.


Swarm allows users to turn a cluster of Docker hosts into one virtual Docker host. Similar to Kubernetes, the Docker Swarm architecture consist of manager nodes and worker nodes. Manager nodes are responsible for orchestration and cluster management, and the worker nodes are responsible for implementing the tasks forwarded by the manager nodes. The system allows applications to be deployed as services, replicated and updated. In addition, the technology enables administrators to increase or decrease container iterations in response to shifting computer demands.

Apache Mesos

With roots tracing back to the University of California, Berkeley, Apache Mesos is another open source software capable of managing container orchestration. Mesos resides in the middle of the OS and application layer, where it allocates network resources like CPU, memory and storage. This provides applications access to essential resources in the cluster. What makes Apache Mesos different is it can be used for virtual machine or physical clustering for running workloads instead of containers.

Google Container Engine

Google Container Engine was founded on Kubernetes, serving as a management and orchestration (MANO) tool for Docker containers and container clusters running on the Google Cloud platform. Making its debut in November 2014, Google Container Engine uses a web-based console and command line tools to deploy and manage containers. It’s equipped with a master node and a Kubernetes Application Programming Interface (API) server to oversee container clusters. All of Kubernetes operations can be used on Google Container Engine.

Amazon EC2

The Amazon Elastic Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that supports and manages Docker containers. With Amazon EC2, users can support and modify applications on container clusters using an API. The tool can be leveraged to determine the amount of virtual servers, called EC2 instances, used to run applications in the Amazon EC2. The downside is users run the risk of getting stuck in a public cloud vendor, otherwise known as vendor lock-in.


Nathan Cranford
Nathan Cranford
Nathan Cranford joined RCR Wireless News as a Technology Writer in 2017. Prior to his current position, he served as a content producer for GateHouse Media, and as a freelance science and tech reporter. His work has been published by a myriad of news outlets, including COEUS Magazine, dailyRx News, The Oklahoma Daily, Texas Writers Journal and VETTA Magazine. Nathan earned a bachelor’s from the University of Oklahoma in 2013. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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