AWS ECS Vs EKS – Comparisons And Use Cases

When I was first introduced to these two AWS services, I was also looking for a comparison of AWS ECS vs EKS. But for a simple reason to understand when to use which service?

It took me some time to get hold of the ECS and EKS difference, so I thought of putting the difference in a comparison manner, so it is easy for a binger or pro to understand quickly.

The increase in popularity of container and container-based applications has given rise to the need for container orchestration platforms.  We have open-source solutions such as Kubernetes and Rancher to fully feel the need.

Public cloud providers like AWS have come up with services like AWS ECS and AWS EKS to support this growing need.

  • Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)
  • Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)

These different container management services of AWS have some unique features. Also, Amazon has created a tight integration of supporting services with these container management services.

You can integrate with AWS services like (ELB) Elastic Load Balancing, (IAM) Identity and Access Management, CloudWatch, and many more.

Now the question is which one to use, when to use and what is the difference between ECS and EKS, so let’s understand in detail.

What is AWS ECS?

ECS – Elastic Container Service is an AWS Cloud service, which provides a fully managed container orchestration. The goal of ECS was to simplify the container deployment without sacrificing needed features by customers.

AWS made it easy to integrate AWS ECS with AWS other services such as AWS ALB -Application load balancers and CloudWatch.

When you are using AWS ECS you don’t need to worry about, where a container is run, the number of copies started, and how resources are allocated. It is taken care of by the AWS ECS service.

Video Credit Amazon Web Services

What is AWS EKS?

EKS – Elastic Kubernetes Service, is Amazon’s managed Kubernetes service. By using Kubernetes, this service helps you with easy deployment and management of containerized applications.

AWS EKS is a fully managed service by Amazon, you don’t have to worry about managing the underlying infrastructure.

You can integrate your AWS EKS with other AWS services, such as AWS RDS, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), AWS SNS, and more.

Video Credit Amazon Web Services

AWS ECS vs EKS – Comparisons

The below table shows the difference between EKS and ECS. We will also go through the details.

The primary difference between AWS ECS and AWS EKS is that ECS – Elastic Container Service is a fully managed container orchestration service and EKS – Elastic Kubernetes Service is a fully managed Kubernetes service.

SolutionContainer orchestration solutionKubernetes orchestration solution
DistributionECS is a native AWS distributionEKS is a native Kubernetes distribution
Where you can runAWS CloudAWS cloud and on-premises data centers
Pods/task per instance120 tasks per instance750 Pods per instance
Ease of UseEasierComplex
Network optionsBasic and not very customizableProvides fine-grained control
PricingNo cost per cluster$0.10 per hour per running cluster
Preferred scenariosNew to container orchestration and deploymentMulti-cloud capabilities and portability of containerized workloads
Support for the Kubernetes APINoYes
Can migrate existing workloadsNoYes
Multi-cloud environmentNoYes
DevOps engineers Kubernetes knowledgeBeginnerAdvance
Community supportExtensive AWS ecosystemopen-source large community
Support for open source Kubernetes tools & add-onsLimitedMore
ECS vs EKS Difference

Key features of AWS ECS:

Simple to use:

Underlining complexity of the compute, network and security configurations are taken care and you can enjoy the service and focus of the application.

Tight integration with other AWS services:

AWS ECS can integrate with other AWS services such as IAM, ELB, CloudWatch, and more, allowing you to build highly scalable and reliable architecture.

Easy Scaling Options:

Auto-scaling capabilities of ECS, allow you to automatically scale your infrastructure based on applications demand.

Key features of AWS EKS:

Leverage Kubernetes ecosystem:

AWS EKS provides access to the Kubernetes ecosystem via API, which give you access to tools, plugins, and integrations. This helps you to leverage existing Kubernetes deployments and expertise.

Managed Kubernetes control plane

AWS EKS automatically manages the Kubernetes control plane, ensuring high availability and scalability. The AWS EKS clusters can be deployed across multiple availability zones, and support fault tolerance.

Enhanced security with IAM

AWS EKS integrates with AWS IAM service for access control, helping you to enforce security best practices.

AWS ECS and AWS EKS Use Cases

Which service to use and when to use, it depends on your specific use case and requirements.

Let’s look at some of the common use cases where AWS ECS and AWS EKS service can be considered over each other.

These use cases will also further help you to deeply understand the difference between ECS and EKS in AWS.

AWS ECS Use Cases

Application Architecture:

AWS ECS is a good fit for deploying microservices-based applications. It provides on-demand scaling options and integration with other AWS services. Also, AWS ECS is very simple to deploy and thus it makes it a popular choice for building microservices architectures, which are scalable and resilient.

Application Conversion:

When you have an existing monolithic application and want to convert it into a containerized application, AWS ECS provides an easy platform to kick-start your journey. You can focus on application conversion, while all the complexity of Kubernetes deployment and management is taken care of by AWS ECS.

AWS EKS Use Cases

Multi-cloud Kubernetes:

The good news is that AWS EKS supports multi cloud deployments of the Kubernetes platform. Even you can run AWS EKS on your own captive data center.  Now, if you have an application that is designed for hybrid cloud architectures to take benefits of both worlds AWS EKS is the right fit.

Can Run Kubernetes:

If you already have applications that are running on the containers, and you know how to manage the Kubernetes clusters, AWS EKS is for you. You can take advantage of the Kubernetes ecosystem and scale your applications on the public cloud.

This will also need less or no code change and you are ready to run your application on AWS EKS. The good part is that AWS EKS provides a managed Kubernetes control plane, you don’t need to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

Conclusion: Amazon ECS vs EKS

Now we know AWS ECS and EKS are container management solutions from AWS that offer ease of deployment and operation. However both AWS ECS EKS, solutions differ in terms of architecture, integration needs, scalability options, and pricing.

So, I suggest when deciding between ECS or EKS, first understand the difference between AWS ECS and EKS, work detailing your specific use case, and most importantly do not forget to consider your cloud budget.

Evaluate all your options carefully to make the best decision for your containerized applications. The AWS Cloud ecosystem is vast and there are many options one can choose from.

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