Nomad vs Kubernetes: Which Orchestration Platform to Choose

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![nomad vs kubernetes](×600.jpg)

Nomad and Kubernetes have emerged as two of the most popular orchestration platforms for automating and managing containerized workloads. With the right orchestration solution, you can efficiently deploy, scale and manage a fleet of containerized applications and microservices.

But which one should you choose between Nomad and Kubernetes? Let‘s dive in to understand the key differences.

What is Nomad?

Nomad from HashiCorp is a workload orchestrator that helps schedule and manage the deployment of containers, non-containerized apps and batch jobs. It works across on-prem and cloud environments.

Nomad comes with a single binary that you run on your infrastructure. It has a small resource footprint and doesn‘t consume much computing resources. Beyond just containers, Nomad can run various types of workloads like non-containerized apps, Windows apps, Java apps and more.

Nomad is available in two versions – the open source Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition with additional features and support. You can get started with the Community Edition within minutes.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes, also known as K8s, is an open source orchestration platform developed by Google and now managed by CNCF. It helps automate the deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications.

Kubernetes focuses on running containerized workloads and provides a robust set of features to manage containerized apps and microservices. It lets you run containers on-prem, in the public cloud or in a hybrid environment.

Leading cloud providers like AWS and Google Cloud offer fully managed Kubernetes services – Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

Also read: Getting Started with Kubernetes: An Introduction for Beginners

But how do Nomad and Kubernetes compare for container orchestration? Let‘s find out.

Nomad vs Kubernetes: Key Differences

#1. Installation

![nomad vs kubernetes installation](×384.webp)

Installing and setting up an orchestration platform is the first step. So it‘s important to evaluate the installation process.


Nomad gives you a single pre-compiled binary that you can easily download and install. On Linux, you can use the official deb/rpm packages.

After installation, you just need to install the CNI plugins to get networking. The whole process takes a few minutes.


Kubernetes has multiple components and binaries. You need to identify the correct container images for your OS, architecture, runtime etc.

Post installation, you need to install kubectl CLI and configure networking using CNI plugins. The installation process is more complex.

#2. Scalability

![nomad vs kubernetes scalability](×384.webp)

The ability to scale your cluster up or down is important to handle growing container workloads.


Nomad has been scaled to clusters with 10,000+ nodes in production. It can run millions of containers, as seen in Nomad‘s stress tests.

You can horizontally scale your cluster using Nomad Autoscaler.


Kubernetes can scale up to 5000 nodes and 150,000 pods or 300,000 containers as of v1.28.

It can handle large clusters but involves more complexity in scaling and management.

#3. Performance

Nomad consumes fewer resources and delivers better performance by running a single binary per node. So it has lower overhead as you scale your cluster.

Kubernetes provides extensive features optimized for container workloads. But it is more resource intensive at larger scales.

#4. Networking

Nomad uses host-level networking with dynamic port allocation. This keeps the network configuration simple.

Kubernetes has native networking capabilities like services, ingress etc. This provides fine-grained control for pod networking.

#5. Requirements

Nomad has lower system requirements compared to Kubernetes when running large clusters.

Kubernetes clusters need more compute, memory and network resources at scale.

#6. Coding

Nomad uses HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) for job specs and configs. Kubernetes uses YAML/JSON.

You also need to learn nomad CLI vs kubectl for interacting with the respective platforms.

#7. Integrations

Nomad integrates natively with Docker, Consul, Terraform, Vault, Prometheus, and other tools.

Kubernetes has a vast ecosystem with cloud services, monitoring, logging, storage and other integrations.

#8. GUI

Nomad comes with a built-in web UI. For Kubernetes, you need to deploy Dashboard or solutions like Lens.

Nomad vs Kubernetes: Summary

Feature Nomad Kubernetes
Installation Single binary Multiple components
Scalability 10000+ nodes 5000 nodes max
Performance Lower resource usage More intensive
Networking Host-level networking Native networking
Requirements Lower requirements More resources needed
Coding HCL language YAML/JSON
Integrations Good ecosystem Vast ecosystem
GUI Built-in UI Need to install

Choose the Right Platform for Your Needs

So which orchestration platform should you choose – Nomad or Kubernetes?

Nomad is a great option if you want a simple, easy to use orchestration platform. It makes cluster setup and management seamless. Nomad also scales well to support large clusters.

Kubernetes is the platform to choose if you need extensive orchestration capabilities and integrations out of the box. It works great for large scale container deployments and microservices architectures.

Evaluate your specific needs around features, scalability, resources and expertise while choosing between the two. For a starter workload, Nomad provides a faster on-ramp. Kubernetes is a full-featured enterprise solution.

You can also run Nomad and Kubernetes together to get the best of both platforms.

Next, check out Kubernetes‘ best practices for container management.

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