AWS ECS vs EKS: Which Container Service is Better in 2022

Containers are a common approach to encapsulating your application’s code, configurations, and dependencies into a single object. Rather than virtualizing the hardware stack, they virtualize the operating system.

Users can run several containers directly on top of the OS kernel. As a result, they’re faster and use less memory than VMs, and they might be critical to your cloud environment’s setup plan.

Kubernetes, AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS), and Docker Swarm are a few docker container orchestration options. This article compares and contrasts Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS.

What is ECS?

Amazon Elastic Container or ECS is a highly scalable container management platform that supports Docker containers and lets you execute applications on a cluster. You won’t have to set up, administer, or scale your cluster management infrastructure using Amazon ECS, and AWS manages everything.

Using simple API calls, you can deploy and terminate containerized applications, query cluster health, and use features like Elastic Load balancer, security groups, EBS volumes, and IAM roles. Then, depending on resource availability and requirements, you can use Amazon ECS to plan container placement across your cluster.

Amazon ECS

Source: AWS ECS Documentation

Amazon ECS does not come at an extra cost. You pay for the AWS resources you establish to store and run your application (AWS EC2 instances or EBS volumes). There is no upfront or minimum fees required; you pay for what you use when you use it.

Why should you use Amazon ECS?

  1. ECS is significantly easier to get started with with a smaller learning curve. Compared to the overhead associated with Kubernetes, ECS is a superior alternative for managing container workloads for small enterprises or teams with limited resources.
  2. ECS can serve as a springboard for Kubernetes. Instead of going into EKS at once, users can use ECS to learn and implement a containerization plan and migrate their workloads into a managed service with a lower initial cost.
  3. Easier AWS integrations allow customers to manage application architectures using resources they are already familiar with. As a result, it makes it easier for them to quickly get the app up and running.

What is EKS?

The Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service or EKS helps you run and manage Kubernetes service on AWS and the on-premises environment. Kubernetes is an open-source service that allows you to automate containerized application deployment, scaling, and management. In addition, Amazon EKS is certified Kubernetes-compliant, which means that current Kubernetes-based apps will work smoothly with Amazon EKS.

With Amazon EKS, you can use AWS Fargate and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to execute your Kubernetes applications. Amazon EKS gives you the benefits of AWS’s scalability, availability, performance, and reliability. Further, it is easy to integrate EKS with other AWS networking and security services. 

Amazon EKS

Source: AWS EKS documentation

Why should you use Amazon EKS?

  1. With the ability to run on EC2, Fargate, and even on-premise via EKS Anywhere, EKS provides significantly greater flexibility when controlling the underlying resources.
  2. EKS allows users to access public and private container repositories.
  3. ECS’s monitoring and administration tools are limited to those offered by Amazon Web Services. While the built-in Kubernetes tools and readily available external interfaces are suitable for most use cases, EKS provides further administration and monitoring capabilities.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Pricing

The main difference between Amazon EKS and ECS is that using ECS does not incur extra costs. Each EKS cluster costs $0.10 per hour, resulting in a monthly cost of up to $72 for each Kubernetes cluster you manage.

When deciding between Amazon ECS and EKS, consider how well they meet the needs of application development and management. 

You pay for the EC2 machines that run your ECS jobs or Kubernetes pods in both ECS and EKS, which means you pay for the resources utilized by your architecture.

The costs can quickly pile up if you plan to use numerous clusters. You can use ECS without paying additional fees for smaller-scale processes, such as tiny microservices apps. Whereas, operations that require high scalability may be ideal for EKS because the cost savings from clever auto-scaling and provisioning will be considerably greater than the monthly cost.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Security

Across all of its services, AWS provides a consistent degree of availability, reliability, and security. For example, using AWS Identity and Access Management(IAM), you can limit access to containers and pods and asks whether you’re using ECS or EKS (IAM).

The difference between AWS ECS and EKS in terms of security is simply operational—ECS is firmly integrated with IAM. In contrast, EKS requires add-ons to enable Identity and Access Management capabilities. Other choices, such as Kiam, offer equivalent functions in EKS, come at a higher cost, and add to the system’s complexity.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Networking

When working with container services, it’s critical to be able to allocate network interfaces to tasks or pods directly. This increases security by allowing you to integrate security groups to specific groups of containers without opening all ports on the EC2 instance. Using awsvpc mode, Amazon ECS will enable you to assign an elastic network interface (ENI) to a job.

In most cases, ECS only enables 8-15 network interfaces per EC2 instance. The service now offers containers with a considerably higher ENI limit if you require more. To give all the containers internal and external network access, you can assign a network interface with a public IP to a Kubernetes pod using Amazon EKS. Additionally, an ENI can be shared between pods. When compared to ECS, EKS allows you to operate up to 750 pods per instance.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Flexibility

Amazon ECS is an AWS-developed technology. So you won’t be able to relocate your clusters to another cloud provider or on-premises quickly once you are stuck with Amazon infrastructure. Because Amazon EKS is built on Kubernetes, it provides significantly stronger support for workload mobility.

Clusters can be operated on any Kubernetes environment, whether it’s a managed Kubernetes platform from another cloud provider.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Namespace

A namespace is a concept in Kubernetes that isolates workloads running in the same cluster, and ECS lacks such a concept. However, there are numerous advantages to using namespaces. You can, for example, have a Dev, and Production environment in a single cluster, all of which can share cluster resources.

Amazon ECS vs EKS: Community

Community support is critical for any software or framework. Kubernetes is more widely used than ECS since it is an open-source solution with a big community and support. For Kubernetes, there is a wealth of documentation and how-to tutorials accessible. On the other hand, ECS has more official AWS support than the community and relatively simple documentation.

Wrapping up

If you want to operate entirely in the AWS cloud, Amazon ECS may be better for simple container workloads because it offers more in-depth AWS integration than EKS. It’s also a lot more accessible for developers to learn.

If you need to operate big microservices designs, span deployments across various infrastructure providers, or need more automation or flexibility than Kubernetes, Amazon EKS offers a far wider ecosystem of tools and resources.

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