In today’s dynamic business environment, speed, security, resource management, and cost optimization are critical factors in scaling applications. Containers have emerged as a solution to address these challenges by providing a standardized way of packaging configurations, dependencies, and code into a single object. Unlike traditional hardware stack virtualization, containers operate at the operating system level, allowing multiple containers to run directly on top of the OS kernel.
Containers have become a vital component in cloud environments, thanks to their speed, portability, and memory efficiency compared to virtual machines. However, managing containers at scale, or container orchestration, can be a daunting task.
To help organizations make informed decisions about choosing the best orchestration system, this article evaluates and compares two well-known container orchestration systems – Amazon ECS and EKS.
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a comprehensive container orchestration service that simplifies the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. With Amazon ECS, you only need to provide a description of your application and its required resources, and the service will automatically launch, monitor, and scale your application across a range of flexible compute options. Furthermore, it integrates seamlessly with other AWS services that your application relies on. You can also customize scaling and capacity rules and monitor application logs and telemetry data to perform system operations.
Auto Scaling groups allow you to handle Amazon EC2 instances and keep pace with the growing demands of your application. To maintain control over the scaling process, you can utilize the managed scaling feature. With the desired capacity you provide, ECS formulates a scaling plan, aiding you in scaling up or down as needed without encountering any uncontrollable situations.
With Amazon ECS, you can effortlessly manage a single Docker container or an entire enterprise application portfolio and scale your container workloads across availability zones and environments without managing a control plane or nodes.
Before diving into a comparison between Amazon ECS and EKS, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of Kubernetes. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that was originally developed by Google. It provides a powerful, flexible way to manage containerized applications, allowing you to automate deployment, scaling, and management tasks. Kubernetes is highly extensible, with a large and active community of contributors. Kubernetes simplifies container management by automating various operational tasks. It comes equipped with numerous built-in commands that facilitate application deployment, seamless rollout of changes, scaling applications based on changing requirements, monitoring application performance, and much more. These capabilities make application management a breeze, ensuring that your focus remains on more critical aspects of your business.
Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) is a managed Kubernetes service that allows users to run Kubernetes on the AWS cloud or on-premises data centers. In the cloud, Amazon EKS automatically handles the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes control plane nodes, which are responsible for scheduling containers, managing application availability, storing cluster data, and performing other critical tasks. This service leverages the scale, reliability, and availability of AWS infrastructure, including integrations with AWS networking and security services, to provide high-performance Kubernetes environments. On-premises, EKS delivers a consistent and fully supported Kubernetes solution, complete with integrated tooling and simple deployment to virtual machines, bare metal servers, or AWS Outposts.
With EKS, you can focus on building and running your applications while leaving the management of the underlying infrastructure to AWS. EKS provides an optimized Kubernetes experience that integrates with other AWS services and enables you to scale your applications seamlessly.
While Amazon ECS and EKS are both container orchestration services from AWS, there are some fundamental differences between the two.
Amazon ECS is a fully managed service that enables you to run Docker containers on AWS. ECS abstracts the underlying infrastructure and provides a platform for running, deploying, and scaling containerized applications. ECS is tightly integrated with other AWS services, making it easy to deploy and manage applications.
On the other hand, EKS is also a fully managed service that allows you to run Kubernetes on AWS. EKS provides a managed Kubernetes control plane and automates the tasks of managing and scaling the cluster, including patching, updates, and security. EKS is also tightly integrated with other AWS services, providing a seamless experience for deploying and managing containerized applications.
When comparing Amazon ECS and EKS, it’s important to understand their differences and similarities. Both are container orchestration services that provide outstanding performance and scalability. However, there are some key differences between them.
Ease of Use
As a native product, it doesn’t require a control plane and is designed to work with minimal resource provisioning
Although easier to manage than upstream K8s, it needs some configuration and expertise to set up and operate.
Highly scalable and available, with automated scaling available without manual configuration.
Highly available and scalable, but requires explicit requests, parameters, and Horizontal Pod Autoscaler setup, or the addition of AWS Autoscaler independently.
Compatibility and Portability
Requires more mobility as most Amazon services are natively compatible only with ECS.
A managed K8s service that works with any infrastructure, whether on-premises or in the cloud, promoting vendor portability and reducing vendor lock-in.
It comes with built-in monitoring through AWS CloudWatch, Container Insights, and support for external monitoring tools, providing information on task condition and performance.
While GuardDuty enhances K8s audit log analysis, Amazon CloudWatch, Container Insights, and CloudTrail already offer built-in monitoring.
You only pay for the resources your containers use.
You need to pay an additional USD 0.10 per hour for each EKS cluster you operate, and supplementary resources like EBS volumes have additional launch fees.
Assigns an Elastic Network Interface (ENI) to a task in Amazon VPC mode, supporting up to 120 tasks per EC2 instance (higher with unique prerequisites).
Provides K8s pods with a private IP address on a dedicated network interface, with each instance supporting up to 750 pods and ENI shared among the pods.
AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Support
Offers native support for deep integration with IAM, enabling IAM roles down to the task or container level.
Requires a few add-ons (like KIAM) to provide deep integration with IAM at the pod level, increasing complexity and potentially raising costs.
Comes with support programs, documentation, and training offered by the AWS
Support system based in the community.
In addition to the managed services, AWS now also offers “Amazon ECS Anywhere” and “Amazon EKS Anywhere”. These services allow you to deploy and manage containerized applications on-premises or in other cloud environments using the same APIs and tools you use with the managed services.
Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS are both powerful container orchestration services from AWS. While ECS is designed for Docker containers and is easy to use, EKS is designed for Kubernetes and provides a highly scalable and flexible service. Both services are deeply integrated with other AWS services and provide a seamless experience for deploying and managing containerized applications.
To help you decide which managed service is best for your needs, we have outlined the key differences between Amazon ECS and EKS in this blog. As mentioned, container orchestration is a must-have when working with containers, and both services offer excellent performance. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, depending on your requirements.
If you are new to containers and looking for a quick solution, ECS may be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you are an experienced user seeking a more robust way to scale your cluster or application, EKS may be the better option.
If you rely solely on AWS and need its services, ECS can assist you. However, if you want to focus on Kubernetes and not be tied to Amazon, EKS may be the better choice.
Ultimately, the choice between EKS and ECS will depend on your specific needs and level of expertise with container orchestration
want to have more control over your container orchestration environment, then EKS might be a better fit for you.
if you’re looking for a simpler and more user-friendly option, then ECS might be a better choice. ECS provides a simplified container management experience and integrates well with other AWS services