How Is Rancher Different?
Rancher is a complete solution for deploying and managing Kubernetes. Better than an installer or a platform, it fits perfectly with every part of your container orchestration strategy.
Kops and Kubespray
Rancher Goes Beyond Installers Like Kops and Kubespray
Kops and Kubespray exist to deploy Kubernetes clusters but can only work with a handful of providers. Both focus on deploying infrastructure and then installing Kubernetes, and then they leave you to figure out what to do next. If something fails during the deploy, their complexity makes it difficult to debug what went wrong.
Rancher deploys instances and installs Kubernetes, and it does so with more than a dozen providers. It also deploys hosted Kubernetes clusters with providers like GKE , AKS, and EKS.
Rancher is more than an installer. After the clusters are up and running, Rancher manages them with role-based access control (RBAC), deploys workloads onto them, monitors them, notifies you of failures, connects the clusters to your CI/CD system, and gives you a complete solution for using Kubernetes.
Cloud-Hosted Kubernetes Services
Rancher Makes Hosted Kubernetes Services Better
Cloud-hosted Kubernetes services like GKE, EKS, and AKS are an excellent way to operate Kubernetes in the cloud. They're easy to set up with a simple command or API call. The providers manage the cluster components for you, restarting failed services and performing upgrades. Some providers don't charge for the management plane, so clusters cost less to run because you only pay for the worker nodes. All of this reduces your administrative burden.
Rancher works closely with these cloud services and enhances what they offer.
One Rancher server cluster manages any number of hosted Kubernetes installations running on any provider. Rancher enables you to not only manage them all through a single interface, but it also lets you apply a uniform security policy across every one. If you have an internal identity provider such as Active Directory, you can even use those users and groups to control access to the cluster.
Commercial Kubernetes Distributions
Rancher is the Open Source Enterprise Kubernetes Platform
Commercial Kubernetes distributions like Docker Enterprise Edition, Mesosphere DC/OS or the new offerings from Pivotal and VMWare differentiate by adding features that restrict you to their environment. In addition to license fees, the further that you drift from the core of Kubernetes, the harder it will be to move to a different platform.
Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE) operates like a commercial Kubernetes distribution by making it easy to install Kubernetes and safely perform updates and rollbacks. RancherOS runs all services inside of containers and presents a minimal attack surface. Rancher itself manages Kubernetes clusters running anywhere. Unlike other commercial distributions, Rancher brings with it powerful solutions for multi-cluster management and centralized authentication, and it includes additional CNCF projects that make Kubernetes even more useful.
Rancher, RKE, RancherOS, and all other Rancher products are 100% free and open source.
Rancher Gives You Freedoms a PaaS Will Not
PaaS solutions want to keep you inside their platform, and they do it by limiting your options. You have to use their operating system, their tools, and their feature-limited versions of Docker or Kubernetes. When you want to move away, you might realize that the cost of doing so exceeds the cost of continuing to use their service, so even if you're unhappy, you're forced to stay.
We want you to be free. Unlike solutions from Pivotal or RedHat, Rancher runs 100% upstream Kubernetes on any cloud provider or manages any hosted Kubernetes service. One Rancher cluster manages hundreds of Kubernetes clusters. From the moment you deploy it, Rancher makes your installation more powerful by including software from the CNCF and other recognized leaders in the open source community.
Deploy Kubernetes with RKE When
You want a specific Kubernetes configuration in the cloud that no cloud Kubernetes service supports.
You want to deploy Kubernetes on a cloud provider that does not offer a Kubernetes service.
You want to use Kubernetes on bare metal or an in-house virtualization platform such as VMWare or Proxmox.