The “container orchestration war” refers to a period of heated competition between three container orchestration tools — Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos. While each platform had specific strengths, the complexity of switching among cloud environments required a standardized solution. The “war” was a contest to determine which platform would establish itself as the industry standard for managing containers.
In 2015, when both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes were released, Apache Mesos was the most widely adopted container management tool, with Twitter, Verizon and Yelp its most high-profile users. Although Apache Mesos and its component frameworks could perform container orchestration, it had a broader range of capabilities that made it complex to implement for developers who just wanted to use it to manage their containers. Kubernetes and Docker Swarm, on the other hand, took a more focused and lightweight approach.
Eventually, Kubernetes emerged as the winner, thanks largely to its robust open source community. According to a recent CNCF survey, in 2020 “91% of respondents report using Kubernetes, 83% of them in production. This continues a steady increase from 78% last year and 58% in 2018.” Today, it is clearly the dominant container orchestration platform, with each of the major cloud providers offering their own managed Kubernetes service. (Explore how Kubernetes won the container orchestration war in this article from Hacker Noon.)