Crucial facts about installing Keycloak

14 March 2024

Best practices: Keycloak running on Windows, Docker and on a virtual machine

If you have decided on Keycloak as your initial IAM solution and would like to install the open source solution yourself, then the question arises: What does Keycloak run best on?

Each environment, including Windows, offers its advantages, but also has disadvantages. In the following, we will reveal the secret of which platform Keycloak runs best on. Find out with us whether it is better to run Keycloak natively on Windows, in a Docker container or in a Virtual Machine (VM).

Natively on Windows:


Easy Integration: Running Keycloak natively on Windows can be straightforward as it’s supported directly on the native OS, making integration with existing Windows-based infrastructure easier.

Familiar Environment: For users accustomed to Windows environments, managing Keycloak natively can be more intuitive.

Direct Access to Resources: Since it runs directly on the host OS, Keycloak has direct access to system resources and configurations.


Dependency Management: Managing dependencies and ensuring compatibility with various Windows components can be challenging.

Scalability: Scalability may be limited compared to containerized or virtualized environments.

Isolation: There might be concerns about isolation and security compared to containerized solutions

In a Docker Container:


Portability: Docker containers provide a highly portable environment, allowing you to run Keycloak consistently across different platforms.

Dependency Management: Docker manages dependencies and configurations, ensuring consistency across environments.

Scalability: Docker enables easy scaling of Keycloak instances horizontally by spinning up multiple containers.


Learning Curve: There’s a learning curve associated with Docker and containerization concepts if you’re not already familiar with them.

Resource Overhead: Running Keycloak in Docker incurs some overhead due to the containerization layer.

Networking Configuration: Docker networking configurations can be complex, especially when integrating with existing infrastructure.

In a VM:


Isolation: VMs offer strong isolation, allowing Keycloak to run in a dedicated environment with its own resources.

Compatibility: VMs can run various operating systems, providing flexibility in deployment.

Resource Allocation: VMs enable fine-grained control over resource allocation, which can be beneficial for performance tuning.


Resource Overhead: VMs consume more resources compared to containerized solutions due to the overhead of running a separate OS instance.

Complexity: Managing VMs involves more overhead in terms of configuration, maintenance, and monitoring compared to containerized environments.

Slower Deployment: VM deployment typically takes longer compared to spinning up containers.

Keycloak Installations: Benefits depend on many factors.

In summary, the choice between running Keycloak natively on Windows, in a Docker container, or in a VM depends on factors such as familiarity with the platform, resource requirements, scalability needs, and existing infrastructure. Containerization offers flexibility and ease of deployment, while VMs provide strong isolation and compatibility with various operating systems. Natively running on Windows might be suitable for organizations heavily invested in Windows environments, but it may come with challenges related to dependency management and scalability.


This article was about: Crucial facts for Keycloak Installations

Are you looking for more information about Keycloak installations, Keycloak hardening and the generic operation with Keycloak? Then ask our experts. An initial consultation is completely non-binding and free of charge, but not unavailing. We look forward to your Keycloak questions!

About Syntlogo: We have been there since the very beginning and started in 2016 with Keycloak version 0 in a very large project to introduce single sign-on. Our customer runs Keycloak itself in its own infrastructure to manage more than 1 million users.