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Is Amazon ECS the right container management system for your business?

Amazon ECS, powered by Amazon Web Services, is a scalable management system that provides organizations with tools for running and organizing Docker containers and microservices.

The Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a container management system used for deploying and scaling Docker containers in production. Amazon ECS makes it easy for businesses to run containerized applications with flexible levels of scalability, fault tolerance and security, thereby allowing them to focus instead on designing, building and maintaining these containerized applications.

Amazon ECS is designed to enable businesses to easily run applications and batch jobs or microservices on a managed cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, based on their resource needs and availability requirements. Because the system abstracts away infrastructure complexity, it frees organizations from the need to install, operate and scale their own cluster management infrastructure. Applications packaged as containers locally will deploy and run in the same way as containers managed by Amazon ECS.

The entire Amazon Web Services platform is available through ECS, allowing businesses to access AWS' security, scaling and load-balancing services as part of the container platform. In fact, AWS customers can easily deploy Amazon ECS through their existing management console or command-line interface. Using simple API calls, organizations can start and stop Docker-enabled applications from running, query the complete state of their cluster and access features like security groups, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes, and identity and access management roles.

How does the system help organizations run containers?

Amazon ECS is deeply integrated with the AWS platform and, as such, it offers highly reliable and scalable, fully managed services for load balancing, auto-scaling, networking, logging and monitoring. Containers are natively integrated with all these capabilities.

Users of the system don't need to operate their own cluster management and configuration management systems. Because the system is designed to take advantage of AWS' highly scalable technology, users can launch anywhere from just a few Docker containers to tens of thousands of containers in seconds, with no additional complexity.

Amazon ECS provides visibility and control into a customer's AWS resources. Users of the system can integrate and use their own schedulers to meet business- or application-specific requirements, or they can connect Amazon ECS to their existing software delivery process (such as continuous integration and delivery systems). This allows them to adopt the Amazon ECS container management system with no disruption.

In terms of security, Amazon ECS schedules containers for execution on user-controlled Amazon EC2 instances and builds on the same isolation controls and compliance that are available for EC2. The system allows users to control the placement of containers on different instances through the construct of clusters and targeted launches, enabling environment and application separation.

Amazon ECS is also integrated with the AWS Identity and Access Management service, which provides customers with fine-grained control over the AWS resources their containers can access, such as databases or Amazon Simple Storage Solution buckets.

Users can configure their container instances to access a private Docker image registry within a virtual private cloud or a registry that's accessible outside of a VPC, such as the Amazon EC2 Container Registry. Amazon ECS is suitable for companies of all sizes, from startup to enterprises. It is popular among businesses in the healthcare and life sciences industries, as well as in the travel, analytics, financial, advertisement and gaming sectors.

How is Amazon ECS licensed and priced?

AWS customers can use the Amazon ECS container management system free of charge. AWS offers various premium support plan options and features an extensive network of consulting partners. Fees for the use of other AWS services vary based on use. The system supports any modern Linux distribution running version 3.10 and later of the Linux kernel and version 1.5.0 and later of the Docker daemon and its runtime dependencies.

Customers pay only for AWS resources they create to store and run their applications, such as Amazon EC2 instances or EBS volumes. New customers can use the AWS Simple Monthly Calculator to estimate costs of running their applications in AWS, and take advantage of the AWS Free Tier, which is available for 12 months after the sign-up date.

Next Steps

What features should you look for when choosing a container management system?

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This was last published in December 2016

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