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Amazon EKS vs Rancher: What are the differences?


This article will provide a comparison between Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and Rancher, focusing on their key differences.

  1. Scalability: Amazon EKS is designed to scale seamlessly based on the needs of the application, thanks to its integration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. It can scale up or down in response to changes in workload and traffic. On the other hand, Rancher is a self-hosted Kubernetes management platform that can also scale, but its scalability might depend on the underlying infrastructure it is deployed on.

  2. Managed Service vs Self-Hosting: EKS is a managed service provided by AWS, meaning that Amazon takes care of the underlying infrastructure, updates, and maintenance of the Kubernetes control plane. This allows developers to focus more on building and running applications rather than managing the infrastructure. Rancher, on the other hand, is a self-hosted platform that needs to be installed and maintained by the users themselves.

  3. Cost: EKS is a commercial service that requires payment based on the number of resources used. The cost includes the underlying EC2 instances, storage, and additional AWS services if needed. Rancher, on the other hand, is an open-source platform that can be installed and used for free, but users need to consider the costs associated with the underlying infrastructure and any additional services they might require for their Kubernetes cluster.

  4. Integration with AWS Services: As an AWS-managed service, EKS integrates seamlessly with other AWS services like Elastic Load Balancing, CloudWatch, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Amazon Aurora for databases. This allows users to easily leverage the capabilities of these services in their applications. Rancher, being a self-hosted platform, might require extra configuration or customization to integrate with AWS services.

  5. Customizability: EKS provides a highly managed environment where certain aspects of the Kubernetes control plane are managed by Amazon. This might limit the level of customization and control that users have over the control plane. Rancher, being a self-hosted platform, allows for greater customization and control over the Kubernetes environment, giving users the flexibility to tailor it to their specific needs.

  6. Support and Community: EKS is backed by AWS, a major cloud provider, which provides comprehensive documentation, support, and resources. It also has a large user community, making it easier to find help and resources. Rancher, being an open-source platform, has an active community providing support, but it might have limited resources and support compared to EKS.

In summary, Amazon EKS is a managed service that offers scalability, integration with AWS services, and ease of use, while Rancher is a self-hosted platform providing greater customizability and cost-effectiveness, but with the need for manual installation and maintenance. EKS might be more suitable for organizations already using AWS services, while Rancher might be a better fit for those seeking more control and flexibility over their Kubernetes environment.

Decisions about Amazon EKS and Rancher
Andres Paredes
Lead Senior Software Engineer at InTouch Technology · | 3 upvotes · 84.5K 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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Pros of Amazon EKS
Pros of Rancher
  • 1
    Better control
  • 1
    Possibility to log in into the pods
  • 1
    Broad package manager using helm
  • 103
    Easy to use
  • 79
    Open source and totally free
  • 63
    Multi-host docker-compose support
  • 58
    Load balancing and health check included
  • 58
  • 44
    Rolling upgrades, green/blue upgrades feature
  • 42
    Dns and service discovery out-of-the-box
  • 37
    Only requires docker
  • 34
    Multitenant and permission management
  • 29
    Easy to use and feature rich
  • 11
    Cross cloud compatible
  • 11
    Does everything needed for a docker infrastructure
  • 8
    Simple and powerful
  • 8
    Next-gen platform
  • 7
    Very Docker-friendly
  • 6
    Support Kubernetes and Swarm
  • 6
    Application catalogs with stack templates (wizards)
  • 6
    Supports Apache Mesos, Docker Swarm, and Kubernetes
  • 6
    Rolling and blue/green upgrades deployments
  • 6
    High Availability service: keeps your app up 24/7
  • 5
    Easy to use service catalog
  • 4
    Very intuitive UI
  • 4
    IaaS-vendor independent, supports hybrid/multi-cloud
  • 4
    Awesome support
  • 3
  • 2
    Requires less infrastructure requirements

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Cons of Amazon EKS
Cons of Rancher
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    • 10
      Hosting Rancher can be complicated

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    What are some alternatives to Amazon EKS and Rancher?
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