Nomad VS. Kubernetes: Container Orchestration tools compared

Nomad VS. Kubernetes: Container Orchestration tools compared
Written by Nilima PaulNovember 29, 2021
14 min read
Nilima Paul

Technology Security Analyst

In this article, we will know about Nomad VS. Kubernetes which is the best

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes (aka "Kube" or k8s) is an open-source container orchestration platform written in Go. It was initially developed by Google in 2014 but is currently maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
According to surveys, Kubernetes usage share has grown from 58% in 2014 to 83% in 2021, being by far the most popular of the orchestration technologies. Leading public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure include managed Kubernetes services in their packages.


What is Nomad?

Nomad is HashiCorps' answer to developers looking for a powerful yet flexible platform for application deployment or container orchestration.
Heralded as simple to run and maintain, Nomad is cloud-agnostic and designed to natively handle multi-datacenter and multi-region deployments with a high scalability potential. It is referred to as "Kubernetes without the complexity," but it's making a name for itself on its own merit.


Kubernetes vs. Nomad: key differences

The primary contrast among Nomad and Kubernetes is that Nomad is more adaptable and lightweight. Wanderer can work similarly as a straightforward undertaking scheduler or take on heavier arrangement jobs as per the task details. Traveler is essential for a suite made out of correlative instruments created by HashiCorp:
Kubernetes comes as a full-featured platform, with all the components included. Nomad leaves out most of those components that can be added later if necessary, minimizing the need for external dependencies.


In the last few years, Kubernetes became the synonym for container orchestration. According to a 2021 Red Hat survey, 85% of IT leaders agree that Kubernetes is “important”, “very important” or “extremely important” to cloud-native application strategies. Nomad is still amassing popularity, but it has been gaining traction among developers and companies.
When it comes to container orchestration, it's not about the number of users but how much traffic these platforms deal with. Kubernetes is ever-present in most of today's digital communications. Still, Nomad is part of Cloudflare's development environment, a company responsible for routing 10% of the world's internet traffic and a cornerstone of Roblox's and Pandora's scaling. It may not be as commonly used as Kubernetes, but it already has a tremendous influence.


Nomad is lightweight and easy to install. It comes as a simple binary to be deployed quickly in a local development machine or cloud environment, with the same consistency and functionality.
Kubernetes takes more time and resources to deploy, and the installation process is more complex. There are other lighter Kubernetes implementations that cover only a few of the full features. These are used for rapid development and testing, but they do not translate well into the production stage since they are prone to configuration inconsistencies.


Kubernetes (as of publishing date) claims to support clusters up to 5,000 nodes, with 300,000 total containers, and no more than 150,000 pods.
Nomad showed it could scale to cluster sizes above 10,000 nodes. And the referred 2 million container challenge in 2020 validated their claims of superior scalability performance.


In Kubernetes, pods communicate via a peer-to-peer network. This networking model needs two CIDRs (Classless Inter-Domain Routers): one for the Node IP addressing and the other for services.
In Nomad, each task gets an IP by default. The respective ports then can be accessed directly or via sidecar proxies, using host networking, dynamic or static port forwarding with the assistance of the Consul component.

Requirements profile

Kubernetes demands more hardware and more staff, being used for high profile, long-term projects, with a bigger investment, in public cloud environments like Google Cloud Platform, Azure, or AWS.
Nomad is suited for smaller teams, with limited capacity for orchestration purposes, with shorter development deadlines, working on hybrid or on-premises environments.


Kubernetes uses YAML or JSON to define and deploy applications. This is an example of Job config using YAML:

apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: Job
name: pi
- name: pi
image: perl
command: ["perl", "-Mbignum=bpi", "-wle", "print bpi(2000)"]
restartPolicy: Never
backoffLimit: 4

Nomad uses the Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL). Its main purpose is to define jobs, and making the definition of builds more flexible and convenient.
HCL is both a syntax and an API designed by Hashicorp to build structured configuration formats. It's a compromise between serialization formats like JSON and configuration formats built around languages like Ruby. It is easier to read and write by humans - just like YAML. Here’s a Job configuration code example for Nomad in HCL:

job "docs" {
datacenters = ["dc1"]
group "example" {
network {
port "http" {
static = "5678"
task "server" {
driver = "exec"

config {
command = "/bin/http-echo"

args = [
"hello world",

Load Balancing

A load balancer distributes incoming traffic from the internet to the front-end applications responsible for handling requests.
The most popular solution in Kubernetes for load balancing is Ingress, a specialized Kubernetes controller (all too similar to a pod). Ingress includes a set of rules to manage traffic and a daemon to apply them. These rules can be adapted for more advanced needs.
Nomad has a functionality similar to the Kubernetes' Ingress controller, which can also adapt easily to changes in configuration and scale.


Nomad works with Docker just like Kubernetes does and runs non-containerized workloads (Windows, Java).

Nomad vs Kubernetes: how to choose?

Kubernetes is an amazing assortment of parts that cooperate, incorporated into one center unit. It is intended to send, oversee and scale application holders across bunches of hosts, very much like a working framework for cloud-local applications.

Wanderer begins as a group chief and undertaking scheduler, yet it very well may be associated with different devices like Consul to grow its capacities. Its adaptability to adjust to various jobs makes Nomad extremely interesting to medium-sized organizations with less equipment and staff assets. It's more straightforward to begin with, simpler to keep up with, however needs local area support.

However, you don't need to pick either Kubernetes and Nomad.

Nomad AND Kubernetes

Both platforms can work together, complementing each other: Kubernetes is used by global companies and is offered as a service by Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and AWS, the three most prominent cloud providers, because it is recognized as a powerful container orchestration tool with cutting edge features. But Nomad's agility makes it perfect for maintenance and core scheduling purposes.

Here's a head to head comparison:


  • Complexity: More complex but provides a higher level of control
  • Community: Superior community, providing tools, resources and support
  • Costs : Potencial higher costs due to larger teams and more demanding architecture
  • Workload support: Focused on Linux containers
  • Openness: Community supported


  • Complexity: Easier to start with, but more immature
  • Community: Lacks a significative community, with the consequential lack of resources
  • Costs: Requires smaller teams, less servers, and it’s less time consuming
  • Workload support: Nomad supports virtualized, containerized and standalone applications (Java, Windows apps and even binary.)
  • Openness: It is closely tied to HashiCorp’s products and development.


The containerization field previously had many contending (and, sometimes, cooperating) choices taking into account various objectives and requirements. Presently we have one more. It doesn't appear Traveler will assume control over the decision of Kubernetes any time soon, yet it's arranging as a solid player.

Traveler can be the passage highlight the universe of compartment coordination for some designers and organizations who need a lightweight, straightforward, and effectively versatile answer for face various situations that don't need a heavyweight like Kubernetes, to develop at their own speed.

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Nilima Paul
Technology Security Analyst
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