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AWS ECS vs. EKS: What is The Difference

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Introduction

The growing popularity of containerized applications has highlighted the need for appropriate container orchestration platforms to support large-scale applications.

Many products have been developed to meet the need for container management throughout their lifecycle. These container orchestration products include open-source solutions. This article covers detailed knowledge of AWS ECS and EKS and their differences.

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Container Management

A container is a small, portable, executable package containing all the components needed to run an application, including the application itself and any necessary configurations, dependencies, system libraries, etc. The development and deployment of applications are significantly streamlined by containerization. However, in order to operate containers, we require the following:

  • A working environment with resources for the CPU, RAM, and storage
  • Communication through networking between containers, other services, and the global internet
  • Databases and storage
  • Caching, external services, and APIs
  • Monitoring using metrics, system and application logs, and security

While applications are contained within containers, the remaining facilities needed for the container’s lifetime are provided by a platform for container management or orchestration.

 

What is Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)?

The Elastic Container Service (ECS) is often misunderstood as a simplified version of Kubernetes. The Elastic Container Service is a container orchestration service provided by AWS. ECS is designed to be simple without sacrificing management features. It integrates easily with AWS services like AWS Application/Network load balancers and CloudWatch.

Amazon Elastic Container Service’s scheduler is used to determine the following:

  • Where a container is executed
  • The number of copies began
  • How are resources allocated

 

What is Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)?

The Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) is a Kubernetes Cluster that is fully managed.

The Elastic Kubernetes Service provides all of Kubernetes’ features and flexibility while leveraging the service’s managed nature. However, all of these advantages come at the expense of increased complexity in the overall application architecture.

EKS deploys and manages containers using the Kubernetes concept of Pods, whereas ECS deploys them directly using individual containers. Pods contain one or more containers that share a resource pool and provide greater flexibility and fine-grained control over service components.

 

Pros:

  • There is no need to install, run, or maintain your control plane.
  • Workloads can be run using native K8s tools such as kubectl, Kubernetes Dashboard, Helm, and Terraform.
  • Better than human engineers at automating load distribution and parallel processing.
  • All Kubernetes assets work in tandem with AWS services, and EKS applications are compatible with those in the Kubernetes environment.
  • You can switch to EKS without changing the code.

 

Cons:

  • Expert configuration is required for deployment.
  • Choose it if you are prepared to deal with Kubernetes’ scalability.

 

Choosing ECS vs. EKS: Which is Right for you?

Without a doubt, EKS is the more powerful platform. However, this does not imply that EKS is the default option for any workload. With its simplicity and feature set, ECS is still suitable for many workloads.

 

  • Deployment

ECS: Simple to deploy, no control plane required, configuration and deployment via the AWS management console. Less expertise and operational knowledge are required.

EKS: More difficult deployment because you must first configure and deploy pods using Kubernetes. Expertise is required.

 

  • Multi-cloud Portability

ECS and EKS are AWS proprietary technologies that may result in vendor lock-in.

 

  • Networking

ECS: There is a maximum number of ENIs per instance. You may need more than support all of the containers you want to run on a given instance.

EKS: You have more options because you can share an ENI across multiple pods.

 

  • Community Support

ECS: AWS corporate support and limited community assistance

EKS: There is a great deal of community support and resources available.

 

  • Pricing

AWS charges for the resources that your ECS and EKS applications consume. Their pricing strategies, however, diverge mildly.

ECS: You pay for ECS resources by the compute platforms such as EC2 instances or the Fargate launch type on which your containers run.

EKS: It costs the same as the ECS model, but you must pay an extra $0.10 per hour for each EKS cluster. Although it may appear insignificant, if you have many clusters for each developer or team, the prices can easily spiral out of control over time.

ECS is a good option if you are just getting started with containerization or installing microservices because it is straightforward and less expensive. On the other hand, if you are familiar with containerization technology and want to take advantage of Kubernetes’ scalability, EKS’s expenses can be insignificant for the use case.

 

Key Comparison Table

Parameter Amazon ECS Amazon EKS
Open-Source No Yes
Smallest Deployable Entity Task Pod
Container Limit Up to 120 per VM Up to 750 pods per VM
Community Support Less More
Multi-Cloud Integration AWS Specific Public and Private Cloud Integration

 

When to Use ECS

Compared to the overhead associated with Kubernetes, small organizations or teams with limited resources will find ECS a better option for managing their container workloads.

Tighter AWS integrations enable users to manage application architectures using already familiar resources, such as ALB, NLB, Route 53, etc. It enables them to get the application up and running quickly.

ECS can serve as a springboard for Kubernetes. Instead of adapting EKS all at once, users can use ECS to implement a containerization strategy and move workloads into a managed service with the less initial investment.

 

When to Use EKS

On the other hand, ECS can be overly simple with limited configuration options. This is where EKS shines. It has far more features and integrations for creating and managing workloads of any size.

Many workloads may not necessitate the use of pods. Pods, on the other hand, provide unrivaled control over pod placement and resource sharing. When dealing with most service-based architectures, this can be extremely useful.

Regarding managing the underlying resources, EKS provides far more flexibility, with the ability to run on EC2, Fargate, and even on-premise via EKS Anywhere.

EKS allows you to use any public or private container repositories.

ECS monitoring and management tools are restricted to those provided by AWS. While they are adequate for most use cases, EKS provides enhanced management and monitoring capabilities through built-in Kubernetes tools and easily accessible external integrations.

 

Conclusion

ECS manages the containerized application by deploying it, scaling it up and down, and so on. EKS runs containerized applications on AWS or on-premises resources using Kubernetes orchestration and management. EKS deploys Kubernetes clusters on EC2 or Fargate instances. Amazon manages the Kubernetes deployment through EKS.

ECS and EKS are both equally secure AWS cloud platform components, but there is one significant difference. Administrators and developers can benefit from more security controls and tools when using EKS versus ECS because EKS includes access to Kubernetes’ native security tooling.

To summarize, EKS is preferable if you are familiar with Kubernetes and want the flexibility and features it offers. If you are starting with containers or want a simpler solution, you can try ECS first.



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