Deploying a Stack

Learn how to deploy your Docker Compose-defined applications as a stack in Docker Swarm, taking advantage of Swarm's distributed architecture for scalability and resilience.

By Kevin McAleer,    3 Minutes

Deploying Applications with Docker Swarm Stacks

After defining your multi-container application with a Docker Compose file, the next step is deploying it as a stack in your Docker Swarm cluster. This lesson walks you through the deployment process, highlighting how Docker Swarm interprets your Compose file to distribute services across the cluster.

Understanding Stack Deployment

Deploying a stack in Docker Swarm involves taking a Docker Compose file and using it to set up all the defined services across the nodes in the Swarm. This approach leverages Swarm’s orchestration capabilities to manage service scaling, placement, and networking.

Preparing for Deployment

Before deploying your stack, ensure that:

  • Your Docker Swarm is initialized and functioning correctly.
  • The Docker Compose file is version 3 or above, compatible with Docker Swarm.
  • You have access to a manager node in the Swarm to issue deployment commands.

Step-by-Step Deployment Process

  1. Navigate to the Compose File Location: On the manager node, navigate to the directory containing your Docker Compose file.
  2. Deploy the Stack:

    • Execute the following command to deploy your stack:

      docker stack deploy -c docker-compose.yml <STACK_NAME>
    • Replace <STACK_NAME> with a name for your stack. This name is used to manage the stack after deployment.

  3. Verify the Deployment:
    • To check the status of your stack, use:

      docker stack services <STACK_NAME>
    • This command lists the services within the stack, along with their current state, replicas, and port mappings.

Managing Your Stack

After deployment, Docker Swarm provides several commands to manage your stack:

  • Scaling Services: Adjust the number of replicas for a service within the stack using the docker service scale command.
  • Updating the Stack: Apply changes to your stack by redeploying it with the same docker stack deploy command. Docker Swarm updates services with changed configurations.
  • Removing the Stack: If you need to remove the stack, use docker stack rm <STACK_NAME>. This command stops and removes all services associated with the stack.

Tips for Successful Stack Deployment

  • Resource Allocation: Consider the resources available on your nodes when deploying services, especially for resource-intensive applications.
  • Service Dependencies: Use the depends_on option in your Compose file wisely to manage service startup order, though be aware it’s a soft dependency in Swarm mode.
  • Monitoring and Logging: Implement logging and monitoring solutions to keep track of your services’ health and performance across the cluster.


Deploying a stack in Docker Swarm transforms your Docker Compose-defined applications into a scalable, resilient system spread across multiple nodes. This lesson covered the essentials of deploying and managing your stack, setting the stage for advanced service orchestration and management strategies in a distributed environment. With your application now running as a stack, you’re leveraging the full power of Docker Swarm for your deployment needs.

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