Why Nomad

One of the questions that seems to always show up when discussing cluster orchestration systems is “why aren’t you using Kubernetes?” Let’s look into that.


Kubernetes can do many things, and has a very advanced operating model. To support this, it has a comparably high level of complexity and overhead to its operation. This complexity would mean that in order to run it on top of an immutable base system you’d need not only some fairly advanced Linux systems knowledge, but also a full body of knowledge in Kubernetes. If there were to be any issue in the stack, it would be very difficult to diagnose.

In contrast, Nomad is a single binary that is deployed and run everywhere. Any extensions to Nomad are implemented as plugins, either statically installed on a host in the case of task driver plugins, or increasingly as schedulable tasks that run within Nomad itself for extending the base capabilities. Furthermore, Nomad does not bottle up complexity in its base system. By moving some complexity to plugins, some to scheduled tasks, and some out of the scope of Nomad entirely we’re left with a system that is not only of a simpler design, but one that is more resilient as well due to having fewer moving parts.

Surrounding Ecosystem

A cluster scheduler rarely stands on its own. In almost all cases it operates in concert with a service discovery layer, a security engine, and typically as well a distributed DNS component. Nomad is only one component of this stack. For service discovery there is fantastic integration with Consul, and for secret management integration with Vault is available. Each of these 3 services does one thing and does it well, making it an ideal part of the stack.


This is first and foremost an open source project. The choice of technology then is important as the community comes with it, and the project must be interesting or useful to the community in some way. The Nomad community is full of people doing interesting and often officially unsupported things, and running an immutable stack is an idea that came out of discussions with a number of Nomad operators.

If your site operates on Nomad and would like to assist with this project, reach out!