Account Log in
Jump to section

Red Hat OpenShift vs. Kubernetes

Copy URL

Red Hat® OpenShift® is a Kubernetes distribution—a commercialized software product derived from an open source project. Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes are both container orchestration software, but Red Hat OpenShift is packaged as a downstream enterprise open source platform—meaning it’s undergone additional testing and contains additional features not available from the Kubernetes open source project.

Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise open source container orchestration platform. It’s a software product that includes components of the Kubernetes container management project, but adds productivity and security features that are important to large-scale companies.

"OpenShift" refers to the downstream container orchestration technology derived from the OKD open source project (previously known as OpenShift Origin). "Red Hat OpenShift" refers to the suite of container orchestration products by Red Hat. Red Hat packages a number of preconfigured components alongside OpenShift in various products, including:

Red Hat OpenShift focuses on an enterprise user experience. It’s designed to provide everything a full-scale company may need to orchestrate containers—including enhanced security options and full-time professional support—and to integrate directly into enterprises’ custom IT stacks, which may include:

Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration project. It helps users manage clustered groups of hosts running Linux containers, which are sets of processes that contain everything needed to run in isolation.

Kubernetes was originally developed and designed by engineers at Google—one of the early contributors to Linux container technology—before it was donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2015. That means that the CNCF is the entity responsible for maintaining the Kubernetes community, while volunteer contributors and administrators are responsible for Kubernetes development, maintenance, and releases.

Red Hat was one of the first companies to work with Google on Kubernetes—even prior to launch—and has since become the second leading contributor to the Kubernetes project.

Docker was once synonymous with containers, but now refers to several things:

  • A specific container technology
  • An open source community
  • A software company

Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes both manage groups of containers called clusters. Each cluster has 2 parts: a control plane and worker nodes. Containers run in the worker nodes, each of which has its own Linux operating system. The control plane maintains the cluster’s overall state (like what apps are running and which container images are used), while worker nodes do the actual computing work.

While a business can choose to install and manage their Kubernetes deployment themselves, an enterprise Kubernetes platform can help those with limited resources, or who don’t want the added responsibility of manually managing their Kubernetes environments.

A vendor-managed Kubernetes platform, such as Red Hat OpenShift, can provide commercial support, handle upgrades and patches, and increase security for Kubernetes and Kubernetes-native applications. The vendor also usually vets third-party integrations, like networking, storage, container registries, and cloud services. The Kubernetes vendor might also provide monitoring, alerting, and logging solutions.

For all that Kubernetes can do, users still need to integrate other components like networking, ingress and load balancing, storage, monitoring, logging, and more. Red Hat OpenShift offers these components with Kubernetes at their core because—by itself— Kubernetes is not enough.

As a catch-all container platform, Red Hat OpenShift is more than a software product. It can be the key to adopting a DevOps culture—automating routine operational tasks and standardizing environments across an app’s life cycle.

Keep reading


Containers vs VMs

Linux containers and virtual machines (VMs) are packaged computing environments that combine various IT components and isolate them from the rest of the system.


What is container orchestration?

Container orchestration automates the deployment, management, scaling, and networking of containers.


What's a Linux container?

A Linux container is a set of processes isolated from the system, running from a distinct image that provides all the files necessary to support the processes.

More about containers


Red Hat OpenShift

An enterprise-ready Kubernetes container platform with full-stack automated operations to manage hybrid cloud, multicloud, and edge deployments.



Free training course

Running Containers with Red Hat Technical Overview

Free training course

Containers, Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift Technical Overview

Free training course

Developing Cloud-Native Applications with Microservices Architectures

Red Hat logo LinkedInYouTubeFacebookTwitter



Try, buy, sell


About Red Hat

We’re the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source solutions—including Linux, cloud, container, and Kubernetes. We deliver hardened solutions that make it easier for enterprises to work across platforms and environments, from the core datacenter to the network edge.

Subscribe to our newsletter, Red Hat Shares

Sign up now

Select a language

© 2022 Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat Summit