Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a highly scalable and performant container management service that simplifies the process of running, stopping, and managing Docker containers on a cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. ECS removes the complexity of operating your own container orchestration infrastructure, allowing you to focus on building and running applications.

Key Features

Managed Cluster Management:
ECS manages the cluster of EC2 instances, handling the orchestration and scheduling of containers.
You do not need to install or manage your own cluster management infrastructure.
Launch Types:
EC2 Launch Type: Use your own EC2 instances for running containers. You pay for the underlying resources like EC2 instances and EBS volumes.
Fargate Launch Type: Run containers without managing the underlying infrastructure. You pay based on the number and configuration of tasks you run.
API Control:
ECS provides APIs to launch and stop containers, query the state of clusters, and manage various AWS resources.
Integrates with other AWS services such as security groups, Elastic Load Balancing, EBS volumes, and IAM roles.
Scheduling and Placement:
ECS schedules the placement of containers based on resource needs and availability, ensuring optimal distribution across the cluster.
Integration with Elastic Beanstalk:
Elastic Beanstalk can handle the provisioning of an ECS cluster, including load balancing, auto-scaling, and monitoring.
For more control over application architecture, you can use ECS directly.
Load Balancing:
ECS integrates with the Application Load Balancer (ALB) to distribute traffic across your containers.
The ALB supports dynamic port mapping, where each container can be assigned an unused port on the EC2 instance.
Custom and Optimized AMIs:
You can use any AMI that meets the Amazon ECS AMI specification.
Amazon ECS-Optimized AMIs are available and recommended for running container workloads.


ECS itself does not incur additional charges. You pay for:
EC2 Launch Type: The cost of the EC2 instances, EBS volumes, and other AWS resources you create.
Fargate Launch Type: The number of tasks and their configuration.

Use Cases

Microservices Architectures: Simplify the deployment and management of microservices by leveraging ECS for orchestration.
Batch Processing: Run large-scale batch processing workloads with the ability to scale up and down based on demand.
Web Applications: Host web applications in containers, leveraging ECS for easy management and scaling.
CI/CD Pipelines: Use ECS to run build and test environments as part of continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines.

Amazon ECS vs Amazon EKS

Amazon also provide the Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS) which can be used to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications using Kubernetes on AWS.
The table below describes some of the differences between these services to help you understand when you might choose one over the other:
Column 1
Column 2
Amazon ECS
Amazon EKS
Managed, highly available, highly scalable container platform
Managed, highly available, highly scalable container platform
AWS-specific platform that supports Docker Containers
Compatible with upstream Kubernetes so it’s easy to lift and shift from other Kubernetes deployments
Considered simpler and easier to use
Considered more feature-rich and complex with a steep learning curve
Leverages AWS services like Route 53, ALB, and CloudWatch
A hosted Kubernetes platform that handles many things internally
“Tasks” are instances of containers that are run on underlying compute but more of less isolated
“Pods” are containers collocated with one another and can have shared access to each other
Limited extensibility
Extensible via a wide variety of third-party and community add-ons.
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