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OpenShift vs Kubernetes: 7 key differences

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  • 4 min read

OpenShift and Kubernetes are different cloud-related containerisation technologies that have been the talk of the town ever since they came into being. 

In this article, we’re comparing both of them so you can figure out what each does and which one to pick.

Also read: Mint vs Ubuntu: Linux distro comparison

What is Kubernetes?

Google developers developed Kubernetes in 2014 as an open-source container-as-a-service (CaaS) framework. It’s a portable, open-source containerisation system that lets developers manage workloads and services with ease.

The framework can automate application deployment, scaling and operations and enables developers to leverage capabilities like process automation, container balancing, self-monitoring and storage orchestration, among other things. 

What is OpenShift?

OpenShift is a family of containerisation software solutions made by Red Hat. Basically, Openshift is a cloud-based Kubernetes container platform used as either a containerisation software or a Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) platform. 

The platform is also partially built on Docker, another rather popular containerisation software. The package offers built-in monitoring, centralised policy management, consistent security and, of course, compatibility with Kubernetes container workloads. 

It also supports several programming languages, including Go, Node.js, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl and Java.

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Kubernetes vs OpenShift

Both these technologies might seem very similar at first, especially considering they both run the Apache License 2.0, but there are still many differences between them.

We’ll be comparing these two over the following factors.


Openshift wins hands down in this category considering its stricter security policies and the secure-by-default option, which goes a long way in enhancing security. It’s also forbidden to run containers as root, a common malpractice and security flaw.

Kubernetes, on the other hand, doesn’t come with any built-in authentication or authorisation features. This means that it’s entirely up to the developers to manually build better tokens and other security and/or authorisation procedures. 


Since Kubernetes is an open-source framework that can be installed on just about any cloud-based service such as AWS or Azure and Linux distro, including Ubuntu, it offers far more flexibility compared to Openshift when it comes to deployment options. 

Openshift’s reliability on Red Hat’s proprietary Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host, otherwise known as RHELAH, Fedora, or CentOS, extremely limits the deployment freedom for developers.

Updates and Releases

Kubernetes once again wins here with its average of four releases each year. The framework also supports several concurrent and simultaneous updates.

Openshift, on the other hand, gets three releases annually on average. There’s also no updates for Openshift’s DeploymentConfig. 


Kubernetes open-source architecture and flexibility mean that even if the framework doesn’t have any native networking solutions, developers can easily plug in a third party network plug-in of their choice and are good to go.

 Openshift here has the advantage, considering it has its own native networking solution called Open vSwitch. It’s also supported by three native plug-ins, which add further functionality. 


Once again, Kubernetes’ open-source architecture gives it the win and the flexibility here. The platform supports Helm templates that are very easy to use and are quite flexible.

Openshift does support templates, but they’re nowhere near as flexible or easy to use. 

Container Image Management

This is a pretty straight-up comparison. Openshift allows developers to use Image Streams to manage their container images. Kubernetes, on the other hand, has no such functionality. 

Technical/Development Support

Lastly, finding support for anything on Kubernetes is much easier owning to its larger user base and a rather active community of developers who keep on enhancing the platform.

While Openshift does support multiple languages, it has a much smaller support community which is mostly limited to Red Hat developers. So find a solution for something might require a little bit more effort. 

Which one should you pick?

So while Kubernetes can help you tons when automating application deployment, operations and scaling, Openshft can work with Kubernetes to help you run applications more efficiently. 

Both platforms come in with their own sets of pros and cons. Considering this, the choice really falls on your particular usage scenario and, depending upon either strengths or weaknesses, which one will fit in your project better. 

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: