A container runtime is software that executes containers and manages container images on a node. Today, the most widely known container runtime is Docker, but there are other container runtimes in the ecosystem, such as rkt, containerd, and lxd. Docker is by far the most common container runtime used in production Kubernetes environments, but Docker’s smaller offspring, containerd, may prove to be a better option. This post describes using containerd with Kubernetes.
Kubernetes 1.5 introduced an internal plugin API named Container Runtime Interface (CRI) to provide easy access to different container runtimes. CRI enables Kubernetes to use a variety of container runtimes without the need to recompile. In theory, Kubernetes could use any container runtime that implements CRI to manage pods, containers and container images.
Read more at Kubernetes Blog