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Ajeet Raina Ajeet Singh Raina is a former Docker Captain, Community Leader and Arm Ambassador. He is a founder of Collabnix blogging site and has authored more than 570+ blogs on Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Technology. He runs a community Slack of 8900+ members and discord server close to 2200+ members. You can follow him on Twitter(@ajeetsraina).

Portainer Vs Rancher

4 min read

According to Gartner “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.” Low code development is a new approach to build apps at a faster pace and allows applications deployment by a simple drag-and-drop as well as a point-and-click interface. Many businesses are combining DevOps approaches with low-code(or no-code) app development platforms for the reason that these solutions provide them with the tools to build applications faster and more efficiently.

Low-code platforms allow non-technical users to work on and improve the speed at which applications can be built and deployed. Instead of the traditional app development team being solely responsible for a growing number of application requests, business users are now able to support digital transformation efforts by building and modifying their own processes, without writing complex lines of code. Hence, low code offers speedy, iterative delivery of new business applications, hence you can build great apps & innovate faster.

The Rise of No-Code Platform for Kubernetes

The adoption of Kubernetes is massively growing for cloud-native applications. These applications require a high degree of infrastructure automation and specialized operations skills, which are not commonly found in enterprise IT organizations. The number of applications being developed and deployed on Kubernetes platforms soon may accelerate as business users take advantage of a no-code platform to create applications. Most of the applications based on containers thus far have been created by professional developers. However, as the number of no-code and low-code platforms being made on Kubernetes increases, the rate at which containerized applications are being developed and deployed also will increase. The typical no-code platform relies solely on a visual interface through which applications are built by dragging and dropping applications, while a low-code platform makes it easier to build applications by automating various coding processes. Both approaches enable individuals with some coding or business expertise to participate more directly in the application development process.

With the advent of a popular container management software like Rancher, you can manage and deploy Kubernetes clusters. Rancher is primarily a Kubernetes-as-a-Service(KaaS), in that it’s designed to help deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters. It includes both a web-based GUI and a command-line interface that enable you to create and scale not just clusters, but also Kubernetes objects such as pods and deployments. Even though Rancher is a popular container management platform, it comes with its own demerits.

  • It’s not easy to use Rancher for new beginners. One needs to be close to Kubernetes technology to understand how to operate the breadth of the services it comes with. Hence, there is a need for guidelines(manuals) during the initial stage of learning this platform.
  • Under the heavy workload, degradation in application performance can be expected
  • Sometimes it is too slow or crashes or has to re-register many times if usage becomes heavy. 
  • There is a need to follow the documentation to get a complete understanding of the Rancher product.
  • Rancher does obfuscate a lot of the things you need to know about running a k8s cluster that eventually you have to learn.
  • Rancher is not flexible in terms of pricing and terms of the contract

Today most organizations face challenges in determining the right set of tools to scale pilot projects into production deployments, given the steep learning curve & lack of a DevOps culture. It is important for business leaders and DevOps architects to choose the right tool which can simplify the build, management, and deployment of Kubernetes environments at a much faster pace. They need a tool that simplifies the management of the entire cycle of a Kubernetes cluster and Portainer is a perfect solution for it. Portainer is not a direct replacement of Rancher, it adds value in its own right. Portainer is designed to minimize complexities in operating workloads and provide a developer-centric operating model for cloud-native applications.

Since it’s 2.0 release back in August 2020, Portainer has already crossed 57,000 installations and deployed by 105,000+ unique users. Impressively, more than 50% of the overall page views are just for Kubernetes Management. With over 2.1 billion+ DockerHub pulls and approximately 500,000+ users per month, Portainer has already gained massive popularity in the last 3 years as a lightweight management UI that allows you to easily manage both of your Docker and Kubernetes environments. But now with the latest 2.0 release, the much-awaited support for Kubernetes has finally arrived.

Before we dive into a comparative world, let us first try to chart out top 8 critical factors that differentiate Portainer from other existing UI tools:

  • Easy to use dashboard
  • No need to write YAML
  • Deploy apps in seconds not minutes
  • Inspect apps, volumes, configurations in a few clicks
  • Focus on apps, not infrastructure
  • Create small or large clusters and assign resources to individuals
  • Add additional clusters(endpoints) in seconds
  • Visually monitor how memory and CPU is used
  • Monitor events and the applications running in each node
  • Convert docker-compose format file to YAML compatible with k8s.

Easy to use dashboard

Portainer comes with super simple UX. It makes operating container platforms easy. It provides a simple, click-to-configure interface that removes all of the unnecessary complexity and negates the need for users to learn complex syntax. Portainer users can now deploy and manage notoriously complicated applications on a Kubernetes platform, quickly and easily. Portainer created an intuitive UI experience that abstracts away all of the confusing Kubernetes lingo and provides you with easy to follow steps to deploy your application.

No need to write YAML 

If you look at the Rancher Kubernetes dashboard, most of the components on Rancher still require you to deal with Kubernetes object YAML files as well as custom scripts for actions such as certificate generation and encryption for apps. With Portainer, users no longer need to know how to write YAML or understand the Kubernetes CLI or API. There is no need to know how to write Kubernetes manifests, no need to learn helm, no need for kubectl commands; Portainer does it for you. We believe it’s a game-changer and we hope you do, too.

Deploy apps in seconds not minutes

Even though Rancher supplies the entire software stack needed to manage containers in production, it takes a couple of minutes to deploy it completely. With Portainer, it reduces to seconds. If you can use Docker on your laptop, you are now able to deploy even the most complex multi-tier applications, with data persistence, resource reservations, placement constraints, auto-scaling, load balancing; all of that Kubernetes awesomeness, just by following Portainer’s super simple UX. 

Inspect apps, volumes, configurations in a few clicks

One of the serious challenges with the Rancher dashboard is difficulty in tracking what’s going on with your application. With portainer, it becomes easy to understand what is going on with your application if it’s not doing what you expected. This is a really valuable feature if you have deployed your app outside of Portainer and are more vulnerable to deployment errors. You can see if your deployment is being impacted by unexpected placement constraints, see if there are image pull issues, see if there are storage issues, see if there are network issues. You name it, we visualize it.


Comparatively, Portainer is a much powerful, open-source toolset that allows you to easily build and manage containers not only in Docker & Docker Swarm but also in Kubernetes and Azure ACI. It perfectly fits with your multi-cluster, hybrid, and multi-cloud container orchestration strategy.

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Ajeet Raina Ajeet Singh Raina is a former Docker Captain, Community Leader and Arm Ambassador. He is a founder of Collabnix blogging site and has authored more than 570+ blogs on Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Technology. He runs a community Slack of 8900+ members and discord server close to 2200+ members. You can follow him on Twitter(@ajeetsraina).
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