The Difference Between Kubernetes Vs. Openshift



What Is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source container-as-a-service (CaaS) framework created by Google developers more than a decade ago. At its core, Kubernetes is a portable, open-source containerization system that lets developers manage services and workloads. The system automates application deployment, scaling, and operations. Now part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kubernetes enables application developers to leverage capabilities like self-monitoring, process automation, container balancing, storage orchestration, and more. 

Let’s take a step closer to understanding OpenShift vs Kubernetes differences by learning more about OpenShift.

What is OpenShift?

OpenShift is a family of containerization software offerings created by open-source software provider Red Hat. According to the company, Kubernetes is the kernel of distributed systems, while OpenShift is the distribution. At its core, OpenShift is a cloud-based Kubernetes container platform that’s considered both containerization software and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS). It’s also partly built on Docker, another popular containerization platform. OpenShift offers consistent security, built-in monitoring, centralized policy management, and compatibility with Kubernetes container workloads. It’s fast, enables self-service provisioning, and integrates with a variety of tools. In other words, there’s no vendor lock-in. Previously known as Origin, the open-source platform, OpenShift OKD lets developers create, test, and deploy applications on the cloud. It also supports several programming languages, including Go, Node.js, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, and Java.

Now we’re ready to investigate the Kubernetes vs. OpenShift differences.

OpenShift vs Kubernetes

Both Kubernetes and OpenShift feature robust and scalable architecture that enables rapid and large-scale application development, deployment, and management. They both run on the Apache License 2.0.

But that’s about where the similarities end. Here are just a few of the differences between OpenShift vs Kubernetes.


Kubernetes offers more flexibility as an open-source framework and can be installed on almost any platform — like Microsoft Azure and AWS —  as well as any Linux distribution, including Ubuntu and Debian. OpenShift, on the other hand, requires Red Hat’s proprietary Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host (RHELAH), Fedora, or CentOS. This narrows options for many businesses, especially if they’re not already using these platforms.


OpenShift has stricter security policies. For instance, it is forbidden to run a container as root. It also offers a secure-by-default option to enhance security. Kubernetes doesn’t come with built-in authentication or authorization capabilities, so developers must create bearer tokens and other authentication procedures manually.


Kubernetes has a large active community of developers who continuously collaborate on refining the platform. It also offers support for multiple frameworks and languages. OpenShift has a much smaller support community that is limited primarily to Red Hat developers.

Releases and Updates

Kubernetes has an average of four releases each year, while OpenShift trails with around three. Similarly, Kubernetes supports several concurrent and simultaneous updates, while OpenShift DeploymentConfig does not.


Kubernetes lacks a networking solution but lets users employ third-party network plug-ins. OpenShift, on the other hand, has its out-of-the-box networking solution called Open vSwitch, which comes with three native plug-ins.


Kubernetes offers Helm templates that are easy to use and provide a generous amount of flexibility. OpenShift templates are nowhere near as flexible or user-friendly.

Image Registry Management

Kubernetes doesn’t have an integrated image registry, although it allows you to pull images from a private registry so you can create your own pods. Additionally, you can make your own Docker registry.

OpenShift, on the other hand, has an in-built image registry and pairs seamlessly with DockerHub or Red Hat. Therefore, developers can use image streams to effortlessly search for and manage container images.

Integrated CI/CD

Kubernetes doesn’t provide a complete out-of-the-box CI/CD solution. However, you can create an entire CI/CD pipeline by pairing Kubernetes with tools such as automated monitoring, testing, and CI servers. Also, third party plugins such as CircleCI can help you seamlessly build faster CI/CD pipelines in Kubernetes.

Like Kubernetes, OpenShift doesn’t offer a complete CI/CD solution, but it has a certified Jenkins container that functions as a Continuous Integration server.

User Experience and Interface

Kubernetes contains a complex web interface that may potentially befuddle newbies. Users who want to access the Kubernetes web graphics user interface (GUI) must install the Kubernetes dashboard and use kube-proxy to send their machine’s port to the cluster server. Users also must create bearer tokens to make authentication and authorization easier, since the dashboard doesn’t have a login page.

OpenShift, conversely, features an intuitive web console which includes a one-touch login page. The console offers a simple, form-based interface, allowing users to add, delete, and modify resources. OpenShift has the distinct user advantage.

Key Features of Kubernetes

  1. High Availability: Kubernetes provides automated failover and load balancing capabilities, which ensures high availability of applications, even in the event of hardware or software failures.
  2. Self-Healing: Kubernetes automatically monitors the health of applications and containers and can automatically restart or replace failed containers, ensuring that the application stays up and running.
  3. Portability: Kubernetes provides a consistent and portable environment for running containerized applications across different infrastructure providers, such as public cloud providers and private data centers.
  4. Extensibility: Kubernetes is highly extensible, with a rich set of APIs that allow developers to build custom controllers and operators to automate their own infrastructure and application management tasks.

Key Features of OpenShift

  1. Multi-Cloud Support: OpenShift allows organizations to deploy and manage applications across multiple clouds, including public, private, and hybrid clouds.
  2. Developer Experience: OpenShift provides a developer-friendly experience, with tools and workflows that make it easy for developers to build, test, and deploy their applications.
  3. Security: OpenShift provides a range of security features, including role-based access control (RBAC), image scanning, and container isolation, that help ensure the security of containerized applications.
  4. Automation: OpenShift provides a range of automation features, including automated scaling, rolling updates, and self-healing capabilities, that help simplify the management of containerized applications.

The OpenShift vs Kubertetes Product

Kubernetes was created by engineers at Google as an open-source framework project and is currently managed via an ongoing collaboration between the users in the global developer’s community. Although this relegates support to the do-it-yourself method, users benefit from the collaboration and peer knowledge within that open-source community.

OpenShift, on the other hand, is available both as a commercial product (called the OpenShift Container Platform), and public cloud (called OpenShift Online and OpenShift Dedicated).

The OpenShift Container Platform was developed and is currently managed and administered by the developers at Red Hat. The platform offers a paid subscription for administration and infrastructure management. Consequently, users enjoy dedicated support, complete with periodical upgrades. Alternately, OpenShift’s open-source version, also called OKD, is a community edition platform that is limited to only ‘self-support’. So, when it comes to OpenShift support, you get what you pay for.


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