Comparison with Docker Swarm

Understand the comparison between Kubernetes Operations (kOps) and Docker for AWS.


Docker For AWS (D4AWS) quickly became the preferred way to create a Docker Swarm cluster in AWS (and Azure) when it was introduced. Similarly, kOps is the most commonly used tool to create Kubernetes clusters in AWS.

The result, with both tools, is more or less the same.

  • Both create security groups, VPCs, auto scaling groups, elastic load balancers, and everything else a cluster needs.

  • In both cases, auto scaling groups are in charge of creating EC2 instances. Both rely on external storage to keep the state of the cluster (kOps in S3 and D4AWS in DynamoDB).

  • In both cases, EC2 instances brought to life by auto scaling groups know how to run system-level services and join the cluster.

If we exclude the fact that one solution runs Docker Swarm and that the other uses Kubernetes, there is no significant functional difference if we observe only the result (the cluster). So, we’ll focus on user experience instead.


Both tools can be executed from the command line, where we can spot the first difference.

Get hands-on with 1200+ tech skills courses.