Recently, new technologies and tools for orchestrating tasks and Data Pipelines have exploded. Since there are so many of them, it can be challenging to decide which ones to employ and how they interact.

In this guide, you will discuss Kubeflow vs Airflow differences and similarities.

Kubeflow is a Kubernetes-based end-to-end Machine Learning stack orchestration toolkit for deploying, scaling and managing large-scale systems. Airflow, on the other hand, is an open-source application for designing, scheduling, and monitoring workflows that are used to orchestrate tasks and Pipelines.

Key Features of Kubeflow

  • Comprehensive Dashboard: Engineers can use K8s to design, deploy, and monitor their models in production thanks to a central dashboard with multi-user isolation.
  • Multi-Model Serving: KFServing, Kubeflow’s model serving component, is designed to serve several models at once. With an increase in the number of queries, this strategy quickly uses up available cluster resources.
  • ML Libraries, Frameworks & IDEs: Kubeflow is interoperable with the data science libraries and frameworks such as  Scikit-learn, TensorFlow, PyTorch, MXNet, XGBoost, etc.  Users of Kubeflow v1.3+ can launch Jupyter notebook servers, RStudio, or VSCode, straight from the dashboard, with the appropriate storage allocated.
  • Monitoring & Optimizing Tools: Tensorboard has been integrated into Kubeflow’s service which helps in visualizing your ML training process. In addition, Kubeflow incorporates Katib. It is a hyperparameter tweaking tool that runs pipelines with various hyperparameters to get the optimal ML model.

Key Features of Airflow

  • Easy to Use: An Airflow Data Pipeline can be readily set up by anybody familiar with the Python programming language. Users can develop ML models, manage infrastructure, and send data with no restrictions on pipeline scope.
  • Robust Pipelines: Airflow pipelines are simple to implement. Its core is the advanced Jinja template engine, which allows you to parameterize your scripts. Furthermore, owing to the advanced scheduling semantics, users can run pipelines at regular intervals.
  • Extensive Integrations: Airflow offers a big pool of operators ready to operate on the Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and a variety of other third-party platforms. As a consequence, integrating it into current infrastructure and scaling up to next-generation technologies is clear and simple.
  • Pure Python: Users can create Data Pipelines with Airflow by leveraging basic Python features like data time formats for scheduling and loops for dynamically creating tasks.

Kubeflow vs Airflow: Key Differentiators

4 critical differentiators that will help in Kubeflow vs Airflow decision.

1. Kubeflow vs Airflow: Function

  • Airflow is a generic task orchestration tool, whereas Kubeflow concentrates on Machine Learning activities like experiment tracking.
  • An experiment in Kubeflow is a workspace that allows you to experiment with alternative pipeline setups.
  • Kubeflow is divided into 2 components: Kubeflow and Kubeflow Pipelines. The latter enables you to specify DAGs, although it focuses more on deployment and model serving than on general operations.

2. Kubeflow vs Airflow: Kubernetes Requirement

  • Kubeflow is designed to run especially on Kubernetes. It works by letting you configure your Machine Learning components on Kubernetes. 
  • Working with Airflow, on the other side, does not necessitate the use of Kubernetes. However, it’s worth noting that if you want to run Airflow on Kubernetes, you can do so using the Kubernetes Airflow Operator.

3. Kubeflow vs Airflow: GitHub Popularity & Support

  • Airflow is used by significantly more Engineers and businesses than Kubeflow.
  • On Github, for example, Airflow has more forks and stars than Kubeflow.
  • Airflow is also more often used in enterprise and developer stacks than Kubeflow. Slack, Airbnb, and 9GAG are just a few of the well-known firms that use Airflow. Since Airflow is so widely used, users can get quick help from the community. 

4. Kubeflow vs Airflow: Use Case

  • If you require a mature, comprehensive ecosystem that can handle a wide range of jobs, Airflow is the way to go. However, if you currently use Kubernetes and want additional out-of-the-box patterns for Machine Learning solutions, Kubeflow is the right choice for you.
  • Selecting the right tool for your project is not a piece of cake.
  • The above Kubeflow vs Airflow comparison will help make your selection easier. However, the Kubeflow vs Airflow decision involves a lot more factors such as team size, team skills, use case, & others.

Similarities between Kubeflow & Airflow

Despite their numerous differences, Kubeflow and Airflow have certain elements in common. The following are some of the similarities between the 2 tools:

  • ML Orchestration: Kubeflow and Airflow are both capable of orchestrating Machine Learning pipelines, but they take quite different methods as discussed above. 
  • Open-Source: Kubeflow and Airflow are both open-source solutions. That is, they may be accessed by anybody, at any time, from anywhere. Both offer active communities and users, however, Airflow has a larger user base than Kubeflow.
  • User Interface(UI): Both have an interactive UI. The central dashboard is the interface in Kubeflow that offers simple access to all Kubeflow components installed in your cluster. The user interface in Airflow gives you a complete picture of the status and logs of all tasks, both finished and in progress.
  • Python: Python is leveraged by both of them. For example, you can construct workflows in Airflow using Python functionalities. In Kubeflow, you can also define tasks using Python.

Conclusion

  • In a nutshell, choosing the best orchestration tool for the use cases can be quite difficult. This post helped you make your Kubeflow vs Airflow decision easier.
  • You not only discovered the Kubeflow vs Airflow differences but also discussed some of the similarities shared. In addition, you gained a basic understanding of key features and components of Kubeflow and Airflow.
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Former Research Analyst, Hevo Data

Shubnoor is a Data Analyst with extensive expertise in market research, and crafting marketing strategies for data industry. At Hevo, she specialized in developing connector integrations and product requirement documentation for multiple SaaS sources.

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