Amazon EKS and Amazon ECS: A Comprehensive Comparison

Amazon EKS vs Amazon ECS

When it comes to running containerized applications on the AWS cloud, organizations are often faced with the decision of choosing between Amazon EKS and Amazon ECS.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) are both managed container orchestration services offered by AWS. Both these services assist in the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications while ensuring security and efficiency. However, it’s important to note that ECS and EKS have distinct operational methods and unique advantages and disadvantages.

In this blog post, we examine and contrast these services, and provide guidance on when to select one over the other.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)

EKS is a managed Kubernetes service that allows you to run Kubernetes clusters on the AWS cloud, without the need to set up and manage their own Kubernetes control plane. With EKS, you can launch and manage Kubernetes clusters on AWS, without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. EKS automatically scales, updates, and patches the Kubernetes control plane, making it easy to run and manage containerized applications on the AWS cloud.

Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)

ECS is a native AWS service that allows you to run, scale, and manage Docker containers on a cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. With ECS, users can launch and stop Docker containers, scale container instances, and schedule tasks on a cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. ECS automatically handles tasks such as scaling, patching, and monitoring, making it easy to run and manage containerized applications on the AWS cloud.

Cluster Management

EKS is a Kubernetes-based service, which means it uses the Kubernetes orchestration engine to manage containerized applications. EKS allows users to define and manage Kubernetes resources, such as pods, services, and deployments, using standard Kubernetes manifests. ECS, on the other hand, uses its own proprietary orchestration engine to manage containerized applications and so uses its own set of AWS-specific task definitions and service definitions to define and manage containerized applications.

In EKS, the Kubernetes control plane, which includes the API server, etcd, and controller manager, is managed by AWS. This means that you do not need to worry about setting up, scaling, patching, or monitoring the control plane. With ECS, you are responsible for managing the orchestration engine themselves.

Overall, EKS offers more flexibility and control over cluster management and orchestration, while ECS is a fully managed service that provides less control but less operational overhead.

Winner: EKS

Compatibility

EKS is compatible with Kubernetes tools and add-ons such as Helm, Prometheus, and Istio, allowing users to use the same tools and workflows they use on-premises or in other clouds. ECS provides less flexibility than EKS when it comes to choosing and managing the orchestration engine.

EKS also facilitates the migration of applications running in Kubernetes clusters on-premise or other cloud platforms and allows for a seamless transfer in the opposite direction.

Winner: EKS

Scalability

EKS is built on top of Kubernetes, which is known for its scalability. ECS also provides scalability but they are not as flexible as Kubernetes-native solutions.

With EKS, you can take advantage of Kubernetes-native scaling features like Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA) and Cluster Autoscaler (CA) to automatically scale your applications based on CPU and memory usage. With ECS, you can scale up and down the number of container instances, based on the requirements of your applications, but it is less flexible than EKS.

EKS allows you to run multiple Kubernetes clusters in an AWS account and across multiple regions, providing high availability and scalability. ECS only allows you to run one cluster per region but allows you to run containerized applications across multiple availability zones, providing high availability and scalability.

Winner: EKS

Cost

EKS can be more expensive than ECS, due to the additional costs of running a Kubernetes control plane. ECS is generally considered to be more cost-effective than EKS, especially for small-scale deployments.

Winner: ECS

Community

Kubernetes is widely adopted and has a large community, which means that it has a lot of resources, tutorials, and support available. ECS, while it is widely adopted within AWS, has a smaller community compared to Kubernetes.

Winner: EKS

Verdict

EKS is the best option if you want to run Kubernetes clusters on the AWS cloud, or want to migrate existing on-premises or other cloud-based Kubernetes clusters to the AWS cloud. EKS is a better fit for large and complex applications that require more customization.

On the other hand, ECS is a better option if you want to run containerized applications on the AWS cloud in a cost-effective way and do not need the advanced features of Kubernetes. ECS is ideal for small and medium-sized applications and those that are not complex and require less customization.

Ultimately, the choice between ECS and EKS will depend on your specific requirements and use case, and what you are looking for in terms of flexibility, scalability, cost, and complexity. However, in most cases, you’ll be better off choosing EKS since it’s based on Kubernetes and offers more in terms of control, flexibility, scalability, and support.

Final Winner: EKS

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