AWS ECS vs EKS: Which One to Choose?

Marie Jaksman
Growth Marketing Manager

AWS ECS vs EKS: Which one to schoose? If you’re planning to run your containerized applications on AWS you first have to choose what to use as an orchestrator:  Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (AWS EKS) or Amazon Elastic Container Service (AWS ECS). Both EKS and ECS are powerful tools that allow developers to manage and deploy their containers.

However, there are some key differences between the two, making them suitable for different use cases.

In this article, we'll explore the difference between ECS and EKS, providing you with the necessary insights to make an educated decision about which service best suits your needs.

What Is AWS EKS?

EKS, or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, is a fully managed service that makes it easy to run Kubernetes on AWS. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

With EKS, you can easily deploy, manage, and scale your applications using Kubernetes without the need to install or operate your own Kubernetes control plane.

EKS provides all the benefits of Kubernetes, such as workload portability, scalability, and declarative APIs, while also managing the underlying infrastructure for you. It integrates seamlessly with other AWS services, allowing you to take advantage of features like Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, and Amazon Elastic File System.

Advantages of AWS EKS:

When it comes to deploying containerized applications, EKS offers a range of features that simplify the process (as compared to self-hosted Kubernetes clusters).

  1. One of the key advantages of EKS is its ability to automatically provision and manage the underlying infrastructure needed to run Kubernetes. This means that you don't have to worry about setting up and configuring servers, networking, or storage. EKS takes care of all these tasks for you, allowing you to focus on developing and deploying your applications.
  2. Another benefit of EKS is its seamless integration with other AWS services. For example, EKS can be easily integrated with Elastic Load Balancing, which allows you to distribute incoming traffic across multiple instances of your application. This helps improve the availability and scalability of your application, ensuring that it can handle high levels of traffic without any downtime.
  3. In addition to Elastic Load Balancing, EKS can also be integrated with Auto Scaling. This feature automatically adjusts the number of instances running your application based on the current demand. If the traffic to your application increases, EKS can automatically add more instances to handle the load. Conversely, if the traffic decreases, EKS can scale down the number of instances, helping you optimize costs and ensure efficient resource utilization.
  4. Furthermore, EKS offers seamless integration with Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), a fully managed file storage service. With EFS, you can easily share files between multiple instances of your application, making it ideal for scenarios where your application requires shared storage. EFS provides high availability and durability, ensuring that your files are always accessible and protected.
  5. To further simplify Kubernetes infrastructure management one can choose to integrate EKS with AWS Fargate to get fully managed just-in-time worker nodes provisioned for their cluster.

Overall, EKS simplifies the process of running Kubernetes on AWS by managing the underlying infrastructure and providing seamless integration with other AWS services. Whether you are deploying a small-scale application or a large-scale production workload, AWS EKS offers the scalability, flexibility, and reliability you need to run your containerized applications with ease.

What Is AWS ECS?

ECS, or Amazon Elastic Container Service, is another popular container orchestration service provided by AWS. Unlike EKS, which uses Kubernetes as the underlying orchestration engine, ECS uses its own proprietary technology.

With ECS, you can easily run and manage application containers on AWS, without having to manage the underlying infrastructure.

ECS provides a fully managed and scalable environment for running containers. It integrates well with other AWS services, making it easy to build and deploy microservices architectures. ECS also provides features like service discovery, load balancing, and auto scaling, making it a comprehensive solution for running containerized applications.

Pros and cons of AWS ECS:

  1. One of the key advantages of ECS is its simplicity. With ECS, you don't need to worry about setting up and managing a Kubernetes cluster. Instead, you can focus on developing and deploying your applications. ECS takes care of the underlying infrastructure, including provisioning and scaling of resources, so you can concentrate on building your containerized applications.
  2. ECS offers a flexible and customizable environment for running containers. You can choose from different launch types, such as EC2 or Fargate, depending on your specific requirements. EC2 launch type allows you to run containers on EC2 instances, giving you more control over the underlying infrastructure. On the other hand, Fargate launch type abstracts away the infrastructure management, allowing you to focus solely on running your containers.
  3. Another advantage of ECS is its seamless integration with other AWS services. You can easily leverage services like Amazon RDS for database management, Amazon S3 for object storage, and Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring and logging. This tight integration simplifies the development and deployment process, as you can easily incorporate these services into your containerized applications.
  4. ECS also provides built-in features for service discovery, load balancing, and auto scaling. With service discovery, you can easily discover and connect to other services within your ECS cluster. Load balancing ensures that traffic is distributed evenly across your containers, improving performance and reliability. Auto scaling allows you to automatically adjust the number of containers based on demand, ensuring that your applications can handle fluctuations in traffic.

ECS Limitations

It's important to note that ECS limitations are relative and depend on specific use cases and requirements. ECS is still a powerful solution for many container management scenarios, especially for those deeply integrated into the AWS ecosystem. Let's take a look at what could be considered as ECS limitations.

  1. Limited Orchestration Capabilities: Compared to Kubernetes (used in Amazon EKS), ECS has more limited orchestration features. For example - it’s not a good fit for running stateful workloads or high-throughout media streaming services.
  2. AWS Specific: ECS is designed specifically for AWS environments, vendor locking you into using AWS cloud services. This can be a drawback for organizations looking for a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud approach.
  3. Less Community Support: While ECS is popular, it doesn't have as large a community or as many third-party integrations and tools as Kubernetes.
  4. Less Flexibility in Networking and Storage: ECS offers fewer options for networking and storage compared to EKS, which can impact the customization of deployments.
  5. Container Auto-Scaling Limitations: While ECS supports auto-scaling, its scaling capabilities are less flexible compared to the auto-scaling capabilities in Kubernetes.
  6. Service Discovery and Load Balancing: While ECS supports basic service discovery and load balancing - advanced capabilities and smart routing may be significantly harder or simply unsupported .

Limited Customization for Advanced Use Cases: ECS might not offer the same level of customization and control required for more complex application deployments that are possible with Kubernetes.

Amazon ECS vs EKS comparison

When comparing AWS ECS and EKS, it's important to consider your specific use case and requirements. Both EKS and ECS are popular container orchestration services offered by AWS, each with its own unique features and benefits.

OrchestrationKubernetes Docker
Ease of UseGenerally more complex due to Kubernetes' steep learning curve.Simpler to start with for Docker users.
FlexibilityHighly flexible, can run on AWS and on-premises.Primarily for AWS cloud environments.
ScalabilityHighly scalable with Kubernetes' features.Scalable, but with some limitations compared to Kubernetes.
Community SupportExtensive, due to Kubernetes' popularity.Strong, but not as extensive as Kubernetes.
Integration Broad integration with AWS services and external tools.Deep integration with AWS services.
ConfigurationMore complex configuration and management.Simpler configuration and management.
PortabilityHigh, can work across different environments.Limited to AWS.
Use CasesSuitable for complex, microservices-based applications.Ideal for simple to moderately complex container management.
PricingPriced based on the number of EKS clusters, costing $0.10 per hour for each cluster, which amounts to $72 monthly.ECS charges are based on the EC2 instances or Fargate tasks utilized.
Management OverheadHigher, due to Kubernetes' complexity.Lower, more straightforward management.
CustomizationHighly customizable.Less customizable than EKS.
Service IntegrationIntegrates with a wider range of AWS and third-party services.More limited in integration options compared to EKS.
Container Interface Kubernetes API.Docker API.
Networking More complex networking setup and options.Simpler networking setup.
Storage OptionsWide range of storage options with Kubernetes.More limited compared to EKS.

When comparing AWS ECS and EKS, it's important to consider your specific use case and requirements. Both EKS and ECS are popular container orchestration services offered by AWS, each with its own unique features and benefits.

Having explored the features and performance of EKS and ECS, let's now examine specific use cases where each service excels.

While both EKS and ECS are powerful container orchestration solutions, there are some key differences between them. One of the main differences is the underlying technology used for orchestration. EKS uses Kubernetes, an open-source industry-standard platform, while ECS uses its own proprietary technology. This difference in technology affects the way you interact with and manage your containerized applications.

  • Amazon EKS: One of the key advantages of using EKS is its compatibility with the Kubernetes API. This means that you can use any tool or framework that works with Kubernetes, making it easier to integrate with your existing workflows. Some examples may be - using community provided Helm charts for 3rd party software installations or employing GitOps practices for CD. EKS also provides automatic scaling, allowing you to easily handle fluctuations in traffic and demand.

EKS also improves the portability of your infrastructure - allowing for easier mluti-cloud or hybrid deployments.

  • Amazon ECS: On the other hand, if you are looking for a simpler solution that requires less management overhead, ECS might be a better fit. It takes care of the underlying infrastructure for you, allowing you to focus on developing your applications.

If you’re ok with being vendor-locked into the AWS cloud and don’t require the advanced features Kubernetes has to offer - definitely consider ECS.

In conclusion, choosing between EKS and ECS depends on your specific use case and requirements. If you prefer the familiarity and extensibility of Kubernetes, EKS is a great choice. With EKS, you can tap into the vast Kubernetes ecosystem and leverage the latest advancements in container orchestration. On the other hand, if you value simplicity and ease of use, ECS might be the better option. ECS abstracts away the infrastructure management, providing a more simplified and managed experience. Regardless of your choice, both EKS and ECS provide powerful solutions for managing and deploying containerized applications on AWS.

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PerfectScale offers a comprehensive solution for organizations of all sizes to reduce cloud costs without sacrificing performance. Utilizing advanced algorithms and machine learning, it ensures services are optimally resourced to balance demand and cost. PerfectScale simplifies Kubernetes cost optimization by automatically right-sizing and scaling resources, adapting continuously to dynamic environments. This reduces waste and enhances system stability.

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Easy to implement, PerfectScale begins delivering immediate results. Schedule a demo today to see how it can help you cut Kubernetes costs while prioritizing system uptime and resilience.

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ECS vs EKS: Curious how these two popular Amazon container services compare? This article breaks down the key differences between Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).
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