You may hear the word “containerization” when people talk about OpenShift vs Kubernetes. But have you ever thought about what it means and how it's used?

Containerization is commonly defined as “the bundling of different applications to more effectively develop, manage, and deploy them across various infrastructures.” Containerization enables companies to become more agile and scalable. The result? More efficient application development. Increasingly, companies are realizing the advantages these tools offer. According to a report released in 2021 by Redhat, 46% of companies surveyed saw container-based applications as the top software development priority for the next year.

If you’re starting to learn the differences between OpenShift vs Kubernetes, you need to learn a lot about the platforms. So, before we investigate the differences between the two platforms let’s understand what they are, starting with Kubernetes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Container Image Management

OpenShift lets developers use Image Streams to manage container images, while Kubernetes doesn’t offer container image management features.

So, what does this all mean in the final analysis?

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Kubernetes or OpenShift: The Verdict

Both Kubernetes and OpenShift are popular container management systems, and each has its unique features and benefits. While Kubernetes helps automate application deployment, scaling, and operations, OpenShift is the container platform that works with Kubernetes to help applications run more efficiently. Check out this article for more insight into more of today’s popular DevOps tools and how each is used. To get an in-depth understanding of Kubernetes, enroll for the Kubernetes Certification.

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