Amazon EC2 Container Service vs Docker Swarm

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Amazon EC2 Container Service

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Amazon EC2 Container Service vs Docker Swarm: What are the differences?

Introduction In this article, we will compare Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS) with Docker Swarm, two popular container orchestration platforms. We will highlight the key differences between the two, focusing on six specific points.

1. Scalability: Amazon ECS provides a highly scalable container management service that can effortlessly scale applications based on workload demands. It integrates well with Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling, allowing automatic scaling based on predefined policies and metrics. On the other hand, Docker Swarm lacks the built-in scalability features of ECS and requires manual configuration for scaling.

2. Load Balancing: One of the key differences between ECS and Docker Swarm is their approach to load balancing. ECS provides an integrated load balancing service known as Elastic Load Balancer (ELB). ELB can distribute traffic across containers and automatically detect unhealthy instances. In contrast, Docker Swarm relies on external load balancing solutions like HAProxy to distribute traffic among containers.

3. Support for Multi-Region Deployment: Amazon ECS offers native support for multi-region deployments through the use of Amazon EC2 instances in different availability zones. This enables applications to be highly available across multiple regions. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, primarily focuses on managing containers within a single cluster and does not have built-in support for multi-region deployments.

4. Integration with AWS Services: As a part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem, ECS seamlessly integrates with various AWS services like IAM, CloudFormation, CloudWatch, and more. This allows for easier management and monitoring of containerized applications. Docker Swarm, being an open-source platform, may require additional effort to integrate with other AWS services.

5. Container Orchestration Features: ECS and Docker Swarm have different approaches to container orchestration. ECS is a managed service that abstracts away the complexity of managing infrastructure and offers integrated features like task scheduling, service discovery, and container health monitoring. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, provides a simple, lightweight orchestration solution that focuses on ease of use and minimal setup. It may require additional tools or configurations for advanced orchestration features.

6. Vendor Lock-In: Using Amazon ECS requires utilizing AWS infrastructure and services, which can lead to vendor lock-in for containerized applications. Docker Swarm, being an open-source solution, provides more flexibility and portability as it can be run on any infrastructure that supports Docker. This makes it easier to migrate applications between different environments or cloud providers.

Summary: In summary, Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS) offers better scalability, integrated load balancing, multi-region deployment support, and seamless integration with other AWS services. Docker Swarm, on the other hand, provides a lightweight and flexible container orchestration solution that minimizes vendor lock-in. The choice between ECS and Docker Swarm depends on specific requirements, complexity, and level of integration needed for containerized applications.

Decisions about Amazon EC2 Container Service and Docker Swarm
Andres Paredes
Lead Senior Software Engineer at InTouch Technology · | 3 upvotes · 84.9K views

If you want to integrate your cluster and control end to end your pipeline with AWS tools like ECR and Code Pipeline your best option is ECS using a EC2 instance. There are pros and cons but it's easier to integrate using cloud formation templates and visual UI for approvals, etc. ECS is free, you need to pay only for the EC2 instance but unfortunately, it is not standard then you cannot use standard tools to see and manage your Kubernetes. EKS in the other hand uses standard Kubernates definitions but you need to pay for the service and also for the EC2 instance(s) you have in your cluster.

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Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 30 upvotes · 9.7M views

Our whole DevOps stack consists of the following tools:

  • GitHub (incl. GitHub Pages/Markdown for Documentation, GettingStarted and HowTo's) for collaborative review and code management tool
  • Respectively Git as revision control system
  • SourceTree as Git GUI
  • Visual Studio Code as IDE
  • CircleCI for continuous integration (automatize development process)
  • Prettier / TSLint / ESLint as code linter
  • SonarQube as quality gate
  • Docker as container management (incl. Docker Compose for multi-container application management)
  • VirtualBox for operating system simulation tests
  • Kubernetes as cluster management for docker containers
  • Heroku for deploying in test environments
  • nginx as web server (preferably used as facade server in production environment)
  • SSLMate (using OpenSSL) for certificate management
  • Amazon EC2 (incl. Amazon S3) for deploying in stage (production-like) and production environments
  • PostgreSQL as preferred database system
  • Redis as preferred in-memory database/store (great for caching)

The main reason we have chosen Kubernetes over Docker Swarm is related to the following artifacts:

  • Key features: Easy and flexible installation, Clear dashboard, Great scaling operations, Monitoring is an integral part, Great load balancing concepts, Monitors the condition and ensures compensation in the event of failure.
  • Applications: An application can be deployed using a combination of pods, deployments, and services (or micro-services).
  • Functionality: Kubernetes as a complex installation and setup process, but it not as limited as Docker Swarm.
  • Monitoring: It supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when the services are deployed within the cluster (Elasticsearch/Kibana (ELK), Heapster/Grafana, Sysdig cloud integration).
  • Scalability: All-in-one framework for distributed systems.
  • Other Benefits: Kubernetes is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), huge community among container orchestration tools, it is an open source and modular tool that works with any OS.
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Pros of Amazon EC2 Container Service
Pros of Docker Swarm
  • 100
    Backed by amazon
  • 72
    Familiar to ec2
  • 53
    Cluster based
  • 42
    Simple API
  • 26
    Iam roles
  • 7
    Scheduler
  • 7
    Cluster management
  • 7
    Programmatic Control
  • 4
    Container-enabled applications
  • 4
    Socker support
  • 2
    No additional cost
  • 1
    Easy to use and cheap
  • 55
    Docker friendly
  • 46
    Easy to setup
  • 40
    Standard Docker API
  • 38
    Easy to use
  • 23
    Native
  • 22
    Free
  • 13
    Clustering made easy
  • 12
    Simple usage
  • 11
    Integral part of docker
  • 6
    Cross Platform
  • 5
    Labels and annotations
  • 5
    Performance
  • 3
    Easy Networking
  • 3
    Shallow learning curve

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Cons of Amazon EC2 Container Service
Cons of Docker Swarm
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    • 9
      Low adoption

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    What is Amazon EC2 Container Service?

    Amazon EC2 Container Service lets you launch and stop container-enabled applications with simple API calls, allows you to query the state of your cluster from a centralized service, and gives you access to many familiar Amazon EC2 features like security groups, EBS volumes and IAM roles.

    What is Docker Swarm?

    Swarm serves the standard Docker API, so any tool which already communicates with a Docker daemon can use Swarm to transparently scale to multiple hosts: Dokku, Compose, Krane, Deis, DockerUI, Shipyard, Drone, Jenkins... and, of course, the Docker client itself.

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    What tools integrate with Amazon EC2 Container Service?
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