9 Best Alternatives to Kubernetes for 2021

Kubernetes is an open-source system for the automatic organization and management of containerized applications. Designing good applications using open-source like Linux containers is an ideal approach to creating cloud-native applications for private, public, or hybrid cloud hosting. This tool automates the deployment, management, and expansion of these containerized applications; therefore, it allows the process to be carried out more easily, quickly, and efficiently.

In spite of all its attributes, in this article, we will discuss Kubernetes alternatives that are free:


Docker allows you to embed an application in one or more software containers that can run on any machine server, whether physical or virtual. Docker works on Linux like Windows Server. It is a technology that aims to facilitate application deployments and the management of the sizing of the underlying infrastructure. It is offered by Docker, partly in open source.

Docker offers a desktop version. It is the subject of an open-source version, called the Docker Desktop, designed to handle containers and test containerized architectures.Docker Desktop is subject to a paid Enterprise version.

It automates the deployment of Docker development environments on tens of thousands of workstations, then ensures the management of their maintenance and their consistency with regard to applications in production. As the container does not carry OS unlike the virtual machine, it is lighter than the latter. It does not need to activate a second operating system to run its applications.

System support: Windows, Linux, and macOS
File size: 916 MB (for windows)


Red Hat’s OpenShift container platform considered as the best alternatives to Kubernetes that is designed for the business environment, to bring together developers and technology operations teams. It offers secure, fast, and reliable containerized applications with highly advanced functions.

It is the best solution, due to being developed and supported by RedHat, one of the main contributors to the Kubernetes project, stable and safe; a pioneer in the implementation and development of the latest Kubernetes functionalities. In addition to all the advantages offered by the characteristics of the OpenShift platform.Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4, which is designed to offer multi-cloud storage through gateway technologies between different providers (Amazon, Google, Azure).-++7

It offers FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) encryption and additional security enhancements for businesses in all industries for the first time to help protect sensitive customer data with stronger encryption controls. It also seeks to improve the supervision of access control through new features that have to do with role-based access and the authorization control of users and applications in general.

System support: Linux or Container Linux by CoreOS


It uses a central repository to make new servers and other IT infrastructure elements available, to modify existing elements, and to install the software in IT environments, notably on physical and virtual servers or in the cloud.

This tool automates repetitive system administration and code deployment tasks, eliminating manual processes to reduce errors that occur during an IT system configuration. The remote execution engine, which is the main component of Salt, creates a secure, two-way, high-speed communication network. With a “master” running (the master), a started “servant” (the minion) attempts to generate cryptographic hashes and connect to the master to form the network.

Salt is used in DevOps services because it extracts development code and configuration information from a central repository, such as GitHub or Subversion, and transmits this content remotely to the servers. Salt users can write their own scripts and programs, as well as download pre-developed configurations that have been placed in a public repository by other users.

System support: Unix, OS X, and Windows


A vagrant is a tool to automatically create and configure portable and playable virtual machines.One of the things in favor of Vagrant, against other DevOps tools like Docker, is that any computer scientist/programmer/developer (even those who use Windows) understands it the first time: Vagrant will configure and automate the creation of virtual machines.

It is installed on the developers’ computers. It is intended for development environments, not even the company that develops Vagrant, recommends it in production. It is cross-platform: Mac, Windows, CentOS, and Debian. It is intended to mount portable and playable development environments between developers.

By default, it uses Virtual Box to virtualize, but it works with any virtualization software. Uses Vagrantfile configuration files, with a simple syntax, suitable for dummies Vagrantfile configuration files generate a box (virtual machine) that can be shared through repositories (like Maven, Node, Bower, etc.)

System support: Debian, Centos, Arch Linux, Linux, FreeBSD, macOS, and Microsoft Windows
File size: 210 MB (for windows)


Rancher is a popular and open-source multi-cluster Kubernetes management software allowing the implementation of “Kubernetes-as-a-Service”. It helps to craft, manage, and support multiple enterprise-grade clusters from a single pane of glass UI. You can utilize projects for an additional level of isolation in the same cluster.

This tool can be installed with ease on any machine that is capable of running Docker, once installed all the subsequent nodes can be easily provisioned from the web UI, and with a few clicks, complex features such as load balancing are available out of the box.

The best part about Rancher Labs is that it can be used for multiple environments such as cloud. It do possess its own rancher-compose format. Other than that, it also allows Docker compose. Both of them highly resemble each other, with the latter being more widely used and not platform-dependent.

System support: Linux


It has great maturity, open-source, based on ruby, with agents on the servers to manage. It is based on a language of its own domain that allows the generation of final states on the servers by means of “manifests”. Aimed at system administrators, it supports monitoring of changes. Every half hour, the server contacts clients and evaluates changes.

This is possible thanks to the “catalog”. It allows you to check the desired final state of the servers and, if it is not correct, change the state so that it is what you want. It has support for Windows and Linux, but if we want AIX or Solaris, we have to use the Enterprise version.

It has control over the final state of the server and also has a procedural approach, which facilitates the control of the processes until reaching the end of the desired state. It is supported by a wide range of operating systems.

System support: Windows, macOS or Linux


Ansible, with a clear difference from the others, does not need a master server or agents to be installed on the nodes to be managed. It is based on a station with the map of the servers to be managed and the SSH credentials for its connection.

Based on Python, use playbooks to find out the desired end state of the servers. The playbook is executed in order, which makes it easier to understand. The playbooks are written in Yaml (Similar to XML), which allows an easy interpretation of the instructions housed in it.

Ansible with its ability to manage servers without the need for agents is emerging, although it is still very young, it has already been part of the RedHat family since 2015, and it seems that more and more companies are using.

System support: Linux, Unix, macOS, and Windows

Docker Compose

Docker Compose is a tool developed by Docker to create containerized software architectures. In this logic, each brick of the application (code, database, web server …) will be hosted by a container. This tool is based on the YAML language (for Yet Another Markup Language) to describe architecture. Once it is coded in a YAML file, all of the application services will be generated via a single command.

Qualified as official, some images are directly maintained by Docker. Others are proposed by contributors. Tested and proven by Docker, around fifty are certified by Docker. The containers are also deployable on the fly from a development or test environment to a production environment.

This tool will allow at the same time to design a more agile test architecture, each test container being able to integrate a brick of the application (database, languages, components …). To test a new version of brick, just change the corresponding container.

System support: Windows, Windows server, Linux, and macOS
File size: 916 MB (for windows)

Apache Mesos

It is an open-source Cluster administrator based on the Linux kernel, unlike Mesos can run on any platform, be it Linux, Windows, or OSX. It also provides applications with APIs for resource management and planning. It abstracts CPU, memory, storage, and other resources from dedicated servers or virtual machines allowing elastic systems that are easy to build and that can be run efficiently, highlighting fault tolerance.

Mesos uses a two-tier scheduling system where it decides how many resources to assign to each Framework and the Framework decides which resources to accept and what tasks to run on those resources. This allows you to get closer to optimization by sharing the cluster between different Frameworks by scaling up to 50,000 nodes.

Mesos allows the cluster to be used to run the frameworks on which the application runs, distributing the load among the different servers, and thus avoiding overloads, achieving optimal performance. Mesos is commonly used for Java, Python, Scala, and R applications.

System supports: Linux, OSX, and Windows
File size: It varies

So, these were the similar software to Kubernetes, if you know any good application then do let me know.


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