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Compare 5 categories of container management tools

As container adoption expands, IT teams face an increasingly diverse, and sometimes overwhelming, set of management options.

In this episode of EMA Cloud Rants -- a cloud-focused video series hosted by analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates Inc. -- we discuss five broad types of container management tools and offer guidance to help enterprises decide when they should choose one over the other.

Despite the benefits of container technologies, such as Kubernetes, many teams face a learning curve when it's time to deploy and manage them. According to EMA research, more than 90% of enterprises say they need commercial container management software on top of Kubernetes, and 94% require external or third-party help for deployment and operations.

Fortunately, there are many options in terms of tools that can help enterprises run and maintain containers. Unfortunately, the sheer number of those options can lead to confusion. And, sometimes, different members of an IT or development team want a different container management product, based on their experience.

"People who have to work or want to work with containers, they are really coming from different backgrounds," said Jens Söldner, independent IT consultant and vExpert. "There are the operations people [who know] their VMware toolkit, and then, of course, there are the pure developer guys who are happy with Docker."

At one end of the spectrum of container management tools are "pure-play" options, such as Rancher Labs, or, more commonly, Docker. While Docker has shifted a bit to increase its emphasis on things such as DevOps and pipeline automation, it still largely operates within the silo of being a container management tool. This is especially true when comparing Docker to alternatives, such as Red Hat OpenShift or VMware Pivotal Container Service, which IT teams can also use to do things like manage backups, service levels and performance.

Another breed of container management tools comes from public cloud providers. Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, Google Kubernetes Engine and Azure Kubernetes Service are all native tools that enable enterprises to deploy containers as a service, without having to worry about tasks such as upgrades or patching. The downside, however, is that these services are specific to a particular cloud vendor's platform, which means lock-in is a concern.

To hear about other categories of container management tools, and their relative pros and cons, tune into the video above.

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