The Best Docker Alternatives for 2023


Docker is a widely-used open-source container platform. With it, developers can automate the deployment, scaling and management of applications within containers, which are isolated, lightweight environments with all the essentials for running an application, such as code, system tools, libraries, and more. Through containers, developers can minimize the risk of discrepancies and ensure that applications run consistently across various environments, including development, testing, and production.

Although Docker is a favorite of many developers, DevOps teams, IT operations teams, startups, small businesses and even large enterprises due to its portability, scalability and isolation, it does have some cons, such as complexity, learning curve, security challenges, resource overhead and more. Luckily, Docker is not the only DevOps tool of its kind, and this guide will break down Docker alternatives in terms of features, pros, cons and pricing.

Containerd: Best for teams needing an affordable, simple container runtime

Containerd is a minimalistic, lightweight, stable and reliable container runtime. It is ideal for developers who want core container functionalities minus the added complexities of Docker.

Containerd docker alternative.

Features of Containerd

Some of Containerd’s top features include:

  • Snapshotting.
  • Image management.
  • Modular architecture.
  • Namespace management.
  • Compatibility with OCI.

Containerd lets developers create and manage container snapshots at specific time points.

Developers also get image management capabilities for storing, distributing and managing container images.

Containerd’s modular architecture makes it extensible. Developers can use plugins and extensions to integrate with other container management platforms and tools to fit their unique needs. Containerd also meets Open Container Initiative specifications. This makes it compatible with OCI-compliant runtimes and container images, allowing it to integrate seamlessly with tools and platforms.

Pros of Containerd

Containerd’s pros as a Docker alternative include:

  • Stability.
  • Simplicity.
  • Modularity.
  • Cost.

Containerd is ideal for running containers in production environments since it was designed with stability and reliability in mind. The programmer tool is lightweight and simple due to its focus on core container capabilities, making it easy to use.

Containerd has a modular architecture. This lets developers integrate it with several container management tools and platforms, offering ultimate flexibility when building container ecosystems. And Containerd is also budget-friendly since it is open-source, free to use and eliminates the added expenses that come with Docker.

Cons of Containerd

Containerd’s areas of improvement as a Docker alternative include:

  • Learning curve.
  • CLI user-friendliness.
  • Feature set.
  • Small ecosystem.

Does Containerd offer more simplicity than Docker? Yes, but it still has a steep learning curve that could take time to conquer for those lacking experience with the Command-Line Interface (CLI) and container concepts. Speaking of the CLI, some may find Containerd’s less user-friendly than Docker’s, and it takes more work to manually manage containers.

Containerd is a runtime that focuses on container execution and offers fewer features than Docker. And its community and ecosystem are smaller than Docker’s, leaving you with fewer integrations and pre-built images.

Pricing of Containerd

Containerd is open-source software, allowing developers to use, modify and distribute it without licensing fees. Using other container technology, plus infrastructure, networking, storage, cloud services, support, etc., could incur additional costs to run containerized applications.

See Also: Docker: The Smart Person’s Guide

What to look for in container software

Containers offer several benefits to software development teams. They promote DevOps, which can lead to faster application development, testing and production. Since they are so lightweight compared to virtual machines, containers can also lead to much faster startup times, which makes it easier to issue frequent updates and improvements. And since DevOps and IT teams know that applications run the same in containers, they can enjoy more consistency.

Those are some of the benefits of container software. How can you pick the proper programmer tool to achieve them? By looking for several key features, which start with compatibility with industry standards like Open Container Initiative specifications. The container software should support a trusty container runtime, such as Docker. It should be scalable and have the power to handle several containers without sacrificing performance.

Container software should have security features like support for user namespaces, rootless containers, etc. And it should have robust image management capabilities in terms of creation, distribution and versioning.

Other features to look for when shopping around for container software include orchestration if you plan on managing multiple containers and deployments, networking capabilities (DNS resolution, service discovery, support for overlay networks, etc.), and monitoring/logging. The ideal container software should also have a large, active community, solid support and a vast ecosystem of plugins, tools and third-party integrations. Lastly, make sure the cost and licensing of the container fit your software development team’s needs.

Final thoughts on Docker alternatives

The Docker alternatives listed above are some of the best available. Review each alternative closely to ensure it fits your needs in terms of features, and its pros outweigh the cons. Because while Docker is a top DevOps tool, it is not the only one at your disposal.

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