Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes: Side-by-Side Comparison


Cloud-based infrastructure has been the industry standard for some time now, with more and more businesses choosing to move their operations to the cloud. With that in mind, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are two popular containerization platforms closely connected to cloud-based operations.

The two platforms serve different purposes, but they both aim to facilitate app management and deployment in the cloud.

In this article, you will learn the differences between the two platforms and get advice on choosing the right one for your business.

Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes Side-by-side comparison.

Note: Install Kubernetes on a Bare Metal Server from phoenixNAP and obtain exceptional scaling potential.

What Is Cloud Foundry?

Cloud Foundry is an open-source platform as a service (PaaS) developed by VMware. Its development was later taken over by the Cloud Foundry Foundation. It is used for building, deploying, running, and scaling apps and services in the cloud through various programming languages and frameworks. Cloud Foundry supports popular programming languages, such as Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, NODE.js, .NET CORE, etc.

The platform features a self-service app execution engine, an automation engine for app deployment and management, and it can be integrated with a wide range of deployment tools. It supports multiple cloud providers, and its open architecture allows developers to integrate their preferred development frameworks or cloud infrastructure.

Overall, Cloud Foundry is a highly customizable platform with a scriptable CLI and a container-based architecture. It allows developers to focus on the code without worrying about managing the underlying infrastructure.

Cloud Foundry Features - Overview

Cloud Foundry platform logo.

Cloud Foundry has many features that make it an enterprise-level cloud platform. Some of its key features are:

  • Multi-Cloud Support. Cloud Foundry decouples the app from the infrastructure. It simplifies the implementation of multi-cloud strategies and allows organizations to move and distribute workloads on several vendors' infrastructure.
  • Automation. Developers can focus on writing code instead of worrying about infrastructure. Cloud Foundry allows users to deploy their apps with a simplified workflow and zero modifications to the code, using automated pipelines and simple commands.
  • Buildpacks. Buildpacks detect the language and dependencies of an app and automatically build and configure it for deployment. That way, Cloud Foundry eliminates the need for manual configurations and speeds up the development process.
  • Services. With a wide range of built-in services (including databases, messaging, and caching), Cloud Foundry allows developers to quickly add functionality to their apps. The services can be accessed through a marketplace interface and quickly provisioned and de-provisioned.
  • Containers. Cloud Foundry abstracts its underlying infrastructure through containers, which allows developers to deploy apps without worrying about their running environment. The infrastructure abstraction facilitates app deployment on multiple cloud providers or on-premise environments.
  • High Availability. The platform provides high availability for applications, ensuring accessibility even in the event of hardware or software failures. The availability results from load balancing and failover mechanisms that automatically route traffic to the app's healthy instances.
  • Security. Cloud Foundry features a range of security components, including role-based access control, network segmentation, encrypted communication, etc. The features help secure apps and data and prevent unauthorized access.
  • Scalability. The platform's scalable architecture allows automatic app upscaling or downscaling in response to changes in demand. The scaling helps ensure app availability and responsiveness, even during high-traffic periods.

Overall, Cloud Foundry is a powerful and flexible platform for developing and deploying apps in the cloud, with features that support developer productivity, security, and app scalability and availability.

What Is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source container and services orchestration platform. It is used for automating the development, scaling, and management of containerized apps across different environments. Kubernetes was developed by Google, but now it is maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Kubernetes is easily extensible, supports declarative configuration and automation, and enables users to run multiple containers in a cluster simultaneously to enable load balancing. What differentiates Kubernetes from Cloud Foundry is that it is a Docker container management platform rather than an app management one.

Note: See when to use Kubernetes and consider the most common kubernetes use cases.

Since it is platform-agnostic, Kubernetes allows developers to focus on coding instead of infrastructural management. Like Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes abstracts the underlying architecture, allowing developers to define the app requirements declaratively, but allows for more fine-tuning during the process.

Kubernetes Features - Overview

Kubernetes platform logo.

Some of the key features of Kubernetes that make it a game-changer in modern software development include:

  • Container orchestration. Kubernetes automates app deployment, scaling, and management through containers, which facilitates the management of large-scale container deployments. The storage system is mounted automatically, either from local storage, public cloud provider, or network storage system.
  • Automatic scaling. With automatic scaling based on resource utilization, applications can easily handle variable traffic loads without manual intervention. Users can also manually scale apps up or down using the CLI or UI.
  • Load balancing. Network traffic is automatically distributed across containers to ensure high app availability and responsiveness. Kubernetes gives each pod a unique IP address and a single DNS name to a set of pods, which enables load balancing between them.
  • Self-healing. Failed containers are automatically replaced and rescheduled on healthy nodes, which allows Kubernetes to self-heal. Containers that don't respond to user-defined health checks are automatically killed. Additionally, Kubernetes progressively rolls out changes to your app while monitoring application health to ensure it doesn't kill all the instances simultaneously. If something goes wrong, changes can be rolled back.
  • Resource management. Resource management features allow users to allocate and manage their apps' computing, storage, and networking resources.
  • Service discovery and networking. Kubernetes has a built-in DNS service for service discovery and a flexible networking model that allows containers to communicate with each other and external resources.

Altogether, Kubernetes is a powerful tool for modern application development and deployment and a popular platform for managing containerized workloads in the cloud. It is supported by a large and active community of developers and users, which is why it remains a popular choice.

Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes: Comparison

Although both solutions deal with containerized apps, some key differences set them apart. The following table compares Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry based on several key aspects:

AspectKubernetesCloud Foundry
DefinitionAn open-source container orchestration platform.An open-source platform as a service (PaaS) for deploying and managing apps.
ArchitectureKubernetes architecture is container-centric.Cloud Foundry architecture is application-centric.
GoalProvides an extensible set of interoperable components to facilitate developer platform building.Improves developer productivity by facilitating app deployment and operation.
DesignA flexible and extensible system comprised of open-source components users can choose, install, configure, and maintain.A fixed set of components designed to work together.
Deployment ModelKubernetes supports a wide range of container runtimes for running apps. The deployment process is more complex than that of Cloud Foundry since it requires a Docker Hub to create Docker images for containers.Cloud Foundry uses built-in container runtimes (e.g., Diego or Garden) to run apps. The app deployment process involves fewer steps because developers don't have to build containers.
ScalingKubernetes supports autoscaling but requires more manual control from developers.Automatic scaling is provided, and it is based on workloads.
RoutingKubernetes' routing approach leverages the flexibility of separate ingress controllers and the Ingress resource to enable advanced routing configurations.Routing is tightly integrated within the platform and provides flexibility through routing policies and a routing mesh in multi-tenant deployments.
EcosystemKubernetes offers a flexible container orchestration platform with a broad and diverse ecosystem that includes many tools and services.Cloud Foundry focuses on providing a comprehensive PaaS solution with an opinionated approach and integrated services.
FlexibilityHighly flexible and customizable, allowing users to implement custom workflows and deployment strategies.Less flexible, follows a more opinionated approach where implementation details are hidden from developers.
Logging and MonitoringUses external tools for logging and/or monitoring.Has built-in logging and monitoring capabilities.
Resource ManagementRequires manual resource management.Automatic resource management is provided.
Application LifecycleMore manual app lifecycle management: updating a container requires deleting it first and then redeploying it.Provides automated application lifecycle management: requires a single command for updating all containers.
Learning CurveHas a steeper learning curve for beginners.Relatively easier for developers familiar with traditional PaaS environments.
SecuritySecurity options are more flexible and allow running privileged workloads on the cluster. Supports RBAC (role-based access control), allowing users to create their own roles and permissions.All security options are available by default, and privileged workloads are not allowed. RBAC is supported and comes pre-configured with a set of roles and permissions.
Community SupportThe Kubernetes community is large, with a global reach and active engagement. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) manages the community.The community is smaller than the Kubernetes community, but it is active and dedicated. The Cloud Foundry Foundation oversees the community and its activities.
Use CasesHighly flexible for diverse workload scenarios. Works best when handling containerized workloads that require greater flexibility across multiple cloud environments.Well-suited for developer productivity and rapid application development. Works best when developing and deploying centralized app development environments hosting a large number of apps. The platform provides unified app management.

While both Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are containerization platforms, their focus and approach differ. Kubernetes focuses more on container orchestration and infrastructure management, while Cloud Foundry provides a higher-level app deployment and management platform.

Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes: How to Choose

Choosing between Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry depends on your organization's specific needs and requirements. Although both platforms are powerful and widely used, they have different approaches and use cases. Factors to consider when deciding between Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes:

  • Architecture and Purpose. Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that offers fine-grained control and flexibility, but requires more management and configuration. On the other hand, Cloud Foundry is a PaaS that abstracts its underlying infrastructure, making app deployment and management easy.
  • Flexibility and Customization. Kubernetes provides extensive flexibility and customization, allowing users to fine-tune their deployment. It offers more control over the underlying infrastructure and has advanced networking and security features. Cloud Foundry offers less flexibility but provides a simplified experience and standardization across deployments, making it easier to manage and scale apps.
  • Learning Curve and Complexity. Kubernetes has a steeper learning curve than Cloud Foundry and requires more infrastructure management. If your team has experience with Kubernetes and containerization, or you need more control and customization, Kubernetes might be a good fit. Cloud Foundry is generally easier to learn and use, making it a good choice for teams focusing more on application development than infrastructure management. It is suitable for teams that focus on app development with a more streamlined deployment experience.
  • Community and App Ecosystem. Kubernetes has a large community with extensive third-party tools and a wide range of integrations. Cloud Foundry also has an active community but with a more focused ecosystem, mainly centered around the Cloud Foundry Foundation and its contributors.
  • Use Cases and App Complexity. Kubernetes is suitable for apps that require fine-tuned control, specific networking or security requirements, and diverse workloads. Cloud Foundry is suitable for cloud-native apps and streamlined development workflows, with a simpler deployment experience that shifts the focus from infrastructure to app development.

Note: Bare Metal Cloud provides one-click Kubernetes deployments with its Rancher integration. You get a scalable, highly-available, automated Kubernetes deployment ready for use in a matter of minutes.

When deciding between Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, evaluate both platforms by considering their differences and the factors mentioned above. Testing them on a smaller project before making a final decision is also advisable.


This article compared Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, two popular containerization platforms that differ in their approach and focus. After considering the differences and use cases of both solutions presented in this article, you should be able to decide on which one is the best for your business.

Next, learn more about Kubernetes pods, the building blocks of Kubernetes architecture, or take a look at our Kubernetes objects guide to get useful object management tips.

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Bosko Marijan
Having worked as an educator and content writer, combined with his lifelong passion for all things high-tech, Bosko strives to simplify intricate concepts and make them user-friendly. That has led him to technical writing at PhoenixNAP, where he continues his mission of spreading knowledge.
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