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There is a rapid mobilization of enterprises to cloud computing from on prem services. Most of the enterprises choose from global cloud providers be it Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google cloud and so on. Within cloud providers there are different offerings on cloud hosting such as VM based hosting, container-based hosting etc. Which one to choose from as per the business services needs and best aligned to their applications and requirements or preferences related to managing operations.
Today we look more in detail about AWS ECS and AWS EKS container services, what are the key differences , benefits, and use cases.
What is AWS ECS?
AWS ECS or Elastic container service is a container orchestration and management service.
- It enables running and managing containers on AWS. Users can quickly deploy, scale, and manage containerized applications using some simple APIs and underlying Amazon infrastructure which is the basis of Amazon own applications.
- It lets users define a set of tasks with docker containers, create a cluster of EC2 instances and launch and manage tasks within the EC2 cluster.
- Amazon ECS also provides a web-based service console to allow users to view, manage and monitor application containers.
- This service is supported with a wide range of AWS services such as EC2, Amazon S3, CloudFormation, VPC and IAM.
What is AWS EKS?
AWS EKS or Elastic Kubernetes services is used to deploy, manage, scale containerized applications with Kubernetes.
- It is a fully managed service so customers need not to worry about managing or maintaining the underlying infrastructure.
- It is an open-source Kubernetes project and uses the same APIs and tools which are used for any Kubernetes clusters. It makes it easier to migrate existing workloads onto AKS.
- It is designed for a high availability and scalability architecture.
- It supports auto scaling, rolling updates, self-healing features and integrates with other AWS services such as Amazon Relational database service (RDS), Amazon Elastic block store (EBS), Amazon simple queue service (SQS) and Amazon simple notification service (SNS).
AWS ECS vs EKS: What is the difference?
Both services allow you to run containers at scale, but they have some key differences.
|Feature||AWS ECS||AWS EKS|
|Container Orchestration System||Proprietary (ECS)||Kubernetes (EKS)|
|Abstraction Level||Higher-level, managed service||Lower-level, self-managed Kubernetes|
|Complexity||Lower, AWS manages much of the setup|
Specialized skills not required
|Higher, more control and customization|
Require specialized skill for deployment
|Orchestration Engine||AWS ECS (Elastic Container Service)||Kubernetes|
|Scaling||Auto scaling supported||Auto scaling supported|
|Service Discovery||Integrated service discovery||Requires additional setup (e.g., KubeDNS)|
|Deployment Strategies||Rolling updates, blue/green, canary||Kubernetes-based (canary, blue/green, etc.)|
|Compatibility||Works well with AWS services||Works with any containerized application|
|Logging and Monitoring||AWS CloudWatch for logs and metrics||Integrates with various monitoring tools (Prometheus, Grafana, etc.)|
|Networking||Built-in networking solutions (VPC, ALB, etc.)|
ECS allows housing 120 tasks per instance
|Kubernetes Network Policies, CNI Plugins|
EKS allows 750 pods / nodes per instance
|Resource Management||Task Definitions and ECS Services||Kubernetes Pods and Deployments|
|Cost||Pay for resources and tasks|
|Pay for underlying EKS cluster and resources|
Comparatively Highly priced
|Community and Ecosystem||Smaller compared to Kubernetes|
Official support from Amazon
|Large Kubernetes community and ecosystem|
|Customization||Limited customization options||Highly customizable and extensible|
|Compatibility with Third-Party Tools||Limited compared to Kubernetes||Broad compatibility with Kubernetes tools|
|Managed Control Plane||Fully managed by AWS||Partially managed (EKS control plane)|
|Cluster Upgrades||AWS manages upgrades for you||You manage EKS control plane upgrades|
|Use Cases||Well-suited for simpler workloads, especially if you are in the AWS ecosystem||Better for complex, multi-cloud, or on-premises scenarios, or if you prefer Kubernetes|
|Learning Curve||Easier for AWS-focused teams||Steeper learning curve for Kubernetes expertise|
|Availability Zones||Automatically distributes tasks across Availability Zones||Kubernetes manages Availability Zone placement|
|Service Mesh Integration||AWS App Mesh for service mesh||Service mesh options like Istio or Linkerd|
Use cases for Amazon ECS and EKS: Which one to choose?
When considering the decision between AWS ECS and AWS EKS, it is important to take into account your individual use case, familiarity with container orchestration systems, and the desired level of control and customization.
For deployment of large and complex and highly available and scalable applications, EKS is a better choice. It is also good if Kubernetes API support is required to migrate existing workloads. Deployment of containers across multiple infrastructures and flexibility are some of the true advantages of Amazon EKS.
For a simple, easy to use solution for application deployment and management is the criteria then ECS is the right choice. If there is no need for additional features such as migration etc. and you want to work on AWS exclusively and have limited expertise and resources with Kubernetes technology.