A Beginner's Guide to AWS Containers - Part 1 by@ginowine
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A Beginner's Guide to AWS Containers - Part 1

by Gino OsahonJuly 24th, 2023
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The following topics will be covered in this first part of the tutorial Introduction to Containers A brief explanation of containers and their benefits Introduction to AWS container services Understanding Containers on AWS Introduction to Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) Key features of ECS Differences between Fargate and EC2 launch types Introduction to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) Key features of EKS Comparison of ECS and EKS for container orchestration
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In this 2 part series blog post, you will go through a guide to understanding the concepts of Containers, AWS container services, Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Docker, How to setup ECS, Building, and Packaging Containerized Applications, AWS IAM, VPC, and Deploying ECS containers. Not to worry, if these terms are new to you — you'll get introduced to them in this article!

The following topics will be covered in this first part of the tutorial

  • Introduction to Containers
    • A brief explanation of containers and their benefits

    • Introduction to AWS container services

  • Understanding Containers on AWS
    • Introduction to Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)

    • Key features of ECS

    • Differences between Fargate and EC2 launch types

  • Introduction to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)
    • Key features of EKS

    • Comparison of ECS and EKS for container orchestration


To follow this tutorial, you should have knowledge in:

  • Cloud Technologies/computing
  • Software Development and Deployment

Introduction to Containers

A Container is a portable and lightweight computing environment. It houses all the system resources that an application, for example, Microservices needs to run. Some examples of these resources include memory, storage, networking resources, dependencies, binary code, configuration files, and CPU. Containers allow you to package your application together with system resources, providing isolated environments for running your Applications.

Modern software engineering practices encourage containerizing application deployment for consistent delivery and management of applications for users. find below some of the benefits of containerization in application deployment.

benefits of containers

  • Portability - Write once, run anywhere. Containers can help developers bundle all their application dependencies, so no need to rebuild the application when deploying to any other environment.

  • Efficiency - Containers provide one of the most efficient methods of virtualization for developers. They minimize overhead and utilize all available resources. Isolated containers can perform their operations without interfering with other containers, allowing a single host to perform many functions.

  • Agility - Containerisation makes DevOps workflow seamless and easy. They can rapidly be deployed in any environment and used to handle application functionalities. If they are no longer needed, you can automatically shut them down until it is needed again, a technique known as orchestration. Technologies like Kubernetes automate the process of coordinating, managing, scaling, and removing containers.

  • Faster delivery - Developers can use containers to compartmentalize their applications. They can divide big applications into discrete parts using microservices, and make isolated changes to areas of the application without affecting the whole application.

  • Improved Security - Being able to isolate components of an application provides an additional layer of security. This is because containers are isolated from one another, this way, if security on one container is compromised, other containers on the same host remain secure.

  • Flexibility - Containerized apps using microservices become so flexible that you can host certain elements on bare metal and deploy others to virtual cloud environments

  • Easier management - Platforms like Kubernetes, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS/EKS) offer a variety of tools that simplify container management, like application installation, rollbacks, and upgrades. There are self-healing features you can use to attempt to recover failed containers, terminate containers that fail health checks, and constantly monitor your containers’ health and status. There is also the flexibility of allocating each container a set amount of CPU and RAM to handle its tasks. Managing containers with tools like Kubernetes is way easier than traditional application management methods.

Containers help the DevOps process by accelerating deployment, streamlining workflows, and minimizing infrastructure conflicts; it also enables developers to use the available resources better. Modern tools like Kubernetes and the Docker engine has made the process of containerizing application something that developers can leverage to build scalable applications

Introduction to AWS Containers

AWS containers

Considering that Cloud Computing is the productive way of deploying and delivering application services to users, the introduction of the AWS container services is at the forefront of this campaign. It opens the gateway to a world of boundless possibilities. Developers and IT enthusiasts immerse themselves in containerization due to the abovementioned benefits. With its effortless management of containerized applications, Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) beckons users to a seamless experience, regardless of scale, where intricate complexities fade into the background, allowing creative minds to focus solely on innovation.

Amazon container services enable developers to orchestrate containers with the unparalleled powers of Kubernetes, granting DevOps Engineers the ability to control containerized deployments with finesse and precision. It enables DevOps Engineers to explore the capabilities of the Cloud concept of application development, unleashing container-based architecture's full potential.

Amazon Cloud Services has a diverse and supportive community of contributors and a well-documented resource; this creates a sense of belonging and provides a passionate community about the containerized community. Though the challenges of configuring IAM roles, building container images, and navigating the intricacies of ECS or EKS may present occasional obstacles, As the curtain rises on the Introduction to AWS container services, individuals step into a realm where dreams of scalability, flexibility, and seamless deployments are within reach, evoking a sense of wonder at the infinite possibilities awaiting them in the cloud's embrace.

Understanding Containers on AWS

Introduction to Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)

Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service that enables developers to quickly deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications. It also has AWS configuration and operational best practices built in. ECS is integrated with AWS and third-party tools, such as Amazon Elastic Container Registry and Docker. This integration makes it easier for teams to focus on building the applications, not the environment.

There are three layers in Amazon ECS:

  • Capacity - The infrastructure where your container run

  • Controller - Deploy and manage your applications that run on the containers

  • Provisioning - The tools that you can use to interface with the scheduler to deploy and manage your applications and containers.

The following diagram shows the Amazon ECS layers

Amazon ECS layers

Amazon ECS capacity Layer

This is the infrastructure layer where your containers run, and it is made up of the following components.

  • Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS cloud - This is where you choose the instance type, and number of instances, and where you can also manage the capacity.

  • Serverless (AWS Fargate) in the AWS cloud - Fargate is a serverless pay-as-you-go compute engine. With Fargate you don't need to manage servers, handle capacity planning, or isolate container workloads for security.

  • On-premises virtual machines (VM) or servers - This component allows you to register an external instance such as an on-premises server or virtual machine, to your Amazon ECS cluster.

Amazon ECS controller layer

  • The Amazon ECS scheduler is the software that manages your applications.

Amazon ECS provisioning layer

There are multiple options for provisioning Amazon ECS:

  • AWS Management Console — Provides a web interface that you can use to access your Amazon ECS resources.

  • AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) — Provides commands for a broad set of AWS services, including Amazon ECS.

  • AWS SDKs — Provides language-specific APIs and takes care of many of the connection details. These include calculating signatures, handling request retries, and error handling.

  • Copilot — Provides an open-source tool for developers to build, release, and operate production-ready containerized applications on Amazon ECS.

  • AWS CDK — Provides an open-source software development framework that you can use to model and provision your cloud application resources using familiar programming languages.

key features of Amazon ECS

  • Options to run your applications on Amazon EC2 instances, a serverless environment, or on-premises VMs.

  • Integration with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). You can assign granular permissions for each of your containers.

  • AWS managed container orchestration with operational best practices built-in, and no control plane, nodes, or add-ons for you to manage.

  • Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). This is a common process for microservice architectures that are based on Docker containers.

  • Support for service discovery. This is a key component of most distributed systems and service-oriented architectures. With service discovery, your microservice components are automatically discovered as they're created and terminated on a given infrastructure.

  • Monitoring and logging

Differences between Fargate and EC2 launch types

EC2 vs Fargate

Amazon Fargate and EC2 launch types are two options available within Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) for running containers. Here are four key differences between them:

  • Serverless vs. Self-managed Infrastructure:
    • Fargate: Fargate is a serverless computing engine for containers. With Fargate, you don't need to provision or manage any underlying infrastructure. AWS takes care of server provisioning, scaling, and management, allowing you to focus solely on deploying and running your containers.

    • EC2: EC2 launch type, on the other hand, requires you to manage and provision EC2 instances to run your containers. You need to choose the instance types, manage capacity, and handle auto-scaling to ensure the availability and performance of your containers.

  • The granularity of Control:
    • Fargate: Fargate offers a high level of abstraction, making it easy to deploy and manage containers without worrying about the underlying infrastructure details. However, this also means that you have less granular control over the underlying resources, such as the host operating system or the networking stack.

    • EC2: With the EC2 launch type, you have more control over the EC2 instances that run your containers. This enables you to fine-tune the instance configuration, use custom AMIs, and apply advanced networking configurations as needed.

  • Billing Model:
    • Fargate: Fargate follows a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where you are charged based on the CPU and memory resources your containers consume, and you don't pay for idle resources. This model can be cost-effective for workloads with variable or unpredictable traffic patterns.

    • EC2: EC2 launch type is billed based on the EC2 instances you provision, regardless of whether your containers fully utilize the available resources or not. As a result, the cost may be higher for workloads that experience fluctuations in demand or have inconsistent resource utilization.

  • Ease of Management:
    • Fargate: Fargate is designed for simplicity and ease of management. AWS handles all the infrastructure tasks, such as patching, updates, and scaling, allowing you to focus solely on managing your containerized applications.

    • EC2: While the EC2 launch type provides more control over the underlying instances, it also requires more management effort on your part. You need to monitor the instances, apply updates, manage security, and handle scaling based on demand.

When choosing between Amazon Fargate and EC2 launch types, consider factors such as the level of control required, workload characteristics, and cost considerations. Fargate is well-suited for developers who want to abstract away infrastructure management and focus on application development, while the EC2 launch type provides more flexibility and control for users who require custom configurations and fine-tuning of the container environment.

Introduction to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)

The Introduction to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) unveils a realm of boundless possibilities for container orchestration. Amazon EKS is a managed Kubernetes service to run Kubernetes in the AWS cloud and on-premises data centers.

In the cloud, Amazon EKS automatically manages the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes control plane nodes responsible for scheduling containers, managing application availability, storing cluster data, and other key tasks. With Amazon EKS, you can take advantage of all the performance, scale, reliability, and availability of AWS infrastructure and integrations with AWS networking and security services.

As the managed Kubernetes service provided by AWS, EKS empowers developers to effortlessly deploy, manage effortlessly, and scale containerized applications using the powerful Kubernetes platform. With EKS, the complexities of setting up and maintaining a Kubernetes cluster fade into obscurity as AWS shoulders the burden of infrastructure management and ensures high availability and resilience.

The journey into Amazon EKS embarks on a voyage of innovation, collaboration, and enhanced agility, inviting newcomers and seasoned Kubernetes enthusiasts to navigate the waters of container orchestration with confidence and unbridled excitement.

Key features of the Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

The Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) offers an array of features that spark feelings of excitement and confidence in the hearts of developers and IT teams alike:

  • Seamless Scalability: The scalability of EKS invokes a sense of liberation, as it effortlessly adapts to varying workloads. Whether it's a surge in traffic during peak hours or a sudden influx of users, EKS dynamically adjusts resources, alleviating the fear of application slowdowns and ensuring a smooth user experience.

  • Streamlined Deployment: EKS' streamlined deployment process ignites enthusiasm, as it allows developers to swiftly roll out containerized applications without getting entangled in the intricacies of Kubernetes cluster setup. The ease of use empowers teams to focus on innovation, inspiring them to bring their ideas to life with unparalleled efficiency.

  • High Availability and Reliability: The reliability of EKS evokes a sense of trust and security, knowing that the applications will remain accessible and stable, even during challenging times. With built-in redundancy and automated failover mechanisms, EKS provides a safety net that bolsters confidence in the face of uncertainty.

  • Intelligent Auto-scaling: EKS' intelligent auto-scaling capabilities elicit feelings of awe, as it intuitively monitors application demand and adjusts resources accordingly. The knowledge that the infrastructure can autonomously handle traffic spikes and downturns instills a sense of peace, allowing teams to focus on innovation without fearing performance bottlenecks.

  • Seamless Integrations: The seamless integration of EKS with other AWS services brings a sense of unity and harmony to the cloud ecosystem. It inspires collaboration between applications and services, amplifying the potential for building feature-rich, interconnected solutions that delight users and customers alike.

  • Enhanced Security: The robust security measures of EKS generate feelings of assurance and peace of mind. From role-based access control to automated security updates, EKS creates a shield of protection around the containerized applications, ensuring data integrity and safeguarding against cyber threats.

  • Community and Support: The strong EKS community and AWS support invoke feelings of camaraderie and belonging. Knowing that there is a vast network of experts, resources, and documentation to lean on fosters a sense of empowerment, enabling developers to explore the full potential of Kubernetes with a safety net of knowledge.

Comparison of ECS and EKS for container orchestration

When comparing Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) for container orchestration, it elicits a range of emotions that stem from the unique strengths and characteristics of each service:

  • Simplicity and Ease of Use (ECS): ECS evokes feelings of simplicity and ease of use, offering a straightforward approach to container orchestration. It allows developers to focus on their applications without the added complexity of managing Kubernetes infrastructure. The simplicity of ECS fosters a sense of relief, enabling quick deployments and reducing the learning curve for teams, particularly those new to containerization and orchestration.

  • Flexibility and Community (EKS): EKS sparks feelings of excitement and curiosity due to its inherent flexibility and the vibrant Kubernetes community it embraces. EKS opens doors to a vast ecosystem of tools, plugins, and knowledge, nurturing a sense of empowerment and inspiration. This flexibility fosters a spirit of exploration, enabling teams to leverage the rich Kubernetes feature set, custom configurations, and integration possibilities to build innovative and scalable solutions.

  • Managed Infrastructure (ECS): ECS invokes a sense of relief and peace of mind with its managed infrastructure. Teams appreciate the freedom from infrastructure management responsibilities, allowing them to focus on application development and deployment. This managed approach evokes feelings of security and trust, knowing that AWS handles the underlying infrastructure, patching, and scaling, thus relieving the burden of operational tasks and enabling teams to concentrate on delivering high-quality applications.

  • Granularity and Control (EKS): EKS elicits feelings of control and precision, appealing to developers seeking fine-grained control over their container orchestration environment. The ability to customize Kubernetes configurations, choose specific container runtimes, and access advanced networking options invokes a sense of empowerment and confidence. EKS provides a playground for meticulous fine-tuning, creating an atmosphere of excitement and satisfaction among those who desire a high level of control.

Let's end the first part of the 2 part series article here and continue in article two. You will learn about the following topics in Article 2.

  • Setting Up AWS for Containers

    • Creating an AWS account

    • Configuring AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles and policies

    • Creating a VPC with Public and Private Subnets for Your Clusters

  • Building and Packaging Containerized Applications

    • Choosing a containerization technology (Docker, containerd, etc.)
    • Introduction to Docker
    • Setting Up Docker on AWS
    • How to deploy and manage Docker containers on AWS EC2

    • However, if you like this article and want to encourage me to write more articles, you can donate to this ETH, USDC and USDT Address on the Ethereum network: 0xfd446002b2979559ef4Cd06e5DCC84bbCC6b49D3

Feel free to visit the official Amazon Container Documentation Website and explore further resources from Amazon.

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Click here to read part 2 of this article.