How to Compare Vagrant, Kubernetes, Mesos, and Docker?

Today containerization platforms have become most important for the developers. They can transform the way by which the software can be deployed and work with microservices. Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Vagrant, and Mesos are four popular container orchestration platforms. They have made their position strong in the market. They can handle the server clusters that may again run one or more services on them.

Before jumping to the comparison section of these platforms, let us know little about them through a brief introduction section of these containerization platforms. In the final section, we will see their performance comparison so that you can choose the best one for you.


Kubernetes is an open-source platform that was created by Google to help the developers to manage and handle scaling the applications, in handling their deployment operations and automation process across the host’s clusters. This enterprise-grade, auto-replication, production-ready and self-healing platform is modular that can be easily utilized for architecture deployment.

It basically solves the problems of cloud components and tools that they face to run the applications at the time of placing the containers into groups and naming them as logical units. It was released on February 2015 and its goals were:

  • To empower the application developers with a powerful tool that can be used for Docker container orchestration without any interaction with the underlying infrastructure
  • To provide standard deployment primitives and interface for consistent app deployment experience
  • To build a Modular API core that can be used by vendors to integrate all systems around the Kubernetes technology.

It was very attractive for application developers as it reduced their dependency on operation teams and infrastructure.

Docker Swarm

Docker has also revolutionized how the software was packaged. Docker Swarm or Swarm is an open-source containerization platform. This is also the native clustering engine for and by the Docker. The applications that can run on Docker can also run easily on Swarm as well. Swarm can also utilize the same command line that is used by Docker. The developers who want to be comfortable with any orchestration platform can adhere to Swarm.

Docker moved to commercialize the file format of open source systems. Docker was cerated to provide following functionalities:

  • To package the libraries and applications in a single package so that the applications can be consistently deployed across various environments
  • It was intended to provide Git like semantics like Docker commit, Docker push so that the developers can quickly adopt this new technology incorporate it in their existing workflow
  • To define the Docker images as immutable layers that can enable immutable infrastructure. The changes made are stored as an individual re-usable image.
  • To run Docker containers by instantiating its immutable image

Just due to Docker, the developers can now run their containers not only on their laptops but also in production. Additional tooling may be required to coordinate multiple machines.

Apache Mesos

Apache Mesos was started or created as a cluster manager of the next generation. Mesos introduced a modular architecture by an open-source development approach. It was designed to be completely independent of the underlying infrastructure. The platform was quickly adopted by several popular businesses like Apple(Siri), Netflix, Twitter, Uber, and many more. Many known and popular big brands are using Mesos.

Mesos was created to solve various architectural problems that include the following ones:

  • Mesos has to handle the abstract data center resources to simplify the resource allocation and provide consistent operational experience and applications across public and private clouds
  • Mesos has to automate the routine tasks like deployment, scaling, upgrades, and self-healing to provide self-healing and highly available fault tolerant infrastructure.
  • Elastically Scalable applications were used to handle the underlying infrastructure from a handful to tens of thousands of nodes
  • Was evolved to reduce the cost that has to be bear for analytics, handling distributed data services, traditional apps, and app footprints.

Mesos can handle a diverse workload set as well that may include traditional Java, real-time analytics, batch jobs, and stateless distributed data services. The broad workload of Mesos includes two-level architecture handling that can enable the application-aware scheduling.


Vagrant is software that is written in Ruby to create a full development environment even within some minutes. If you are software developer that involves the steps like installation, configuration and handling of multiple services then most of the time you will be working in your own setup environment through your laptop and in order to use that software on other workstation you may need to set up the same environment by installing all required software.

But in today’s environment many web services have to run independently and have to be moved to various application servers, web servers, and backend API services, etc. So, it may become a tedious task to install all the services manually and configuring them over and over again.

Vagrant was evolved to provide a virtualization environment to the developers. Today even the majority of websites are using virtual hardware to run the applications. For this many virtualization software like VirtualBox, VMWare, Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Hyder V are available in the market. Vagrant software has the following capabilities:

  • If you want to install an operating system using virtualization, then it will be a time-consuming process, while Vagrant can solve this problem easily. It uses the operating system image. It can enhance the setup speed of the operating system. It uses the “Box” that are distributed as box files.
  • You can easily configure the specific settings of virtual machine as well that includes resource allocation , network configuration, and hostnames settings
  • Vagrant can also execute the configuration management software like Puppet or Chef, so the user can easily set up the development environment with required application settings

So, Vagrant is compatible with many existing virtualization technologies like VMWare, VirtualBox, or AWS Cloud.

Comparison of Kubernetes and Docker Swarm

Both of these platforms provide the same functionalities, but still, there exist some fundamental differences between them. We are going to compare both of them:

  • Application Definition: One can easily deploy an application by utilizing a combination of services, pods and deployments. In the case of Docker Swarm cluster, the services are deployed as micro services.
  • Networking: Kubernetes follows flat networking model, where all pods can interact with each other. This network is implemented as an overlay network. In case of Docker, the nodes that join the Swarm clusters can generate an overlay network for those services that span every host. Docker users can encrypt the container data as well.
  • Scalability: Kubernetes is an all-in-one framework for the distributed systems. It is considered as a complex system as it can provide a strong guarantee about the state of clusters along with unified set of APIs. While in comparison to Kubernetes, Dockers can deploy the containers much faster.
  • Availability: Kubernetes nodes can tolerate the failures in easy manner and through its load balancing service, one can easily detect the unhealthy pods due to this the availability increases at fast rate. In case of Docker, the services can be replicated that also increases its availability. The swarm manager nodes of Docker can handle all nodes and resources.
  • Container Setup: Kubernetes has its own YAML, API, and client definitions that differ from one Docker to another. It means you cannot utilize Docker CLI or Docker Compose for container definition. To switch the platforms, you can use YAML commands and definitions.

Comparison of Docker and Vagrant

Well, we have discussed Docker setup and installation in the above section, now we will discuss Vagrant so that you can know its working and compare it with Docker:

Terminology Used in Vagrant:

Box: The Box of the Vagrant is a virtual machine that can provide a packaged environment

Provider: The provider is used to run the virtual environment. The provider can be local, virtual, or remote. In some special cases, it can also be a Docker container

Provisioner: The virtual environment of Vagrant is set up by the provisioner tool that can be either a simple shell script or any advance tool like Chef, Puppet, or Ansible.

So How Mesos is Different?

Mesos also has a unique ability to manage diverse workloads that may include any traditional application like a Java based application. Mesos framework can schedule the encapsulation of any application-specific logic and offer the framework for any underlying infrastructure. It can also maintain isolation by maintaining such architecture.

Each workload in this way can have its own architecture and can easily handle the scaling, deployment and upgrade for the applications. The application schedule can be developed independently that makes Mesos highly extensible that can support new workloads and add operational capabilities over time.

Mesos has two-level scheduler architecture that includes:

  1. Mesos Master and Agent
  2. Mesos Framework

Mesos Master and Agent

  • Guarantees Isolation
  • Can offer and track the resources across all workloads
  • Can restart workloads on task failure on any node
  • Can manage abstract data center resources into one pool

Mesos Framework

  • Deploys tasks
  • Consume Resources
  • Can provide application-specific logic for upgrade, recovery, and deployment


These all are containerization platforms that can handle easy or complex Docker application. They can offer simple solutions and provide fast deployment. Kubernetes can also be used in a production environment by various popular services. Many services can even be run on any of these platforms. Well, however, they can be compared for various features. Moreover, you can choose the right tool for your container orchestration. The choice will depend on the required feature that you are looking for.