Kubernetes Vs AWS ECS

The debate between Kubernetes and Amazon ECS is nothing new. Now, when the companies understand the power of containers and how they change the overall deployment process, there are times when they have to choose between the two strong container orchestration tools. There are several grounds on which Kubernetes and Elastic Container Service can be distinguished and finally it depends on the user what they would prefer. In this article, you shall learn the differences between the two tools according to several factors along with learning the basics of the two tools.

What Is AWS ECS?

AWS ECS or Amazon Elastic Container Service is a container management service that is known to be extremely fast and highly scalable. So, anyone who wants to run, manage or do absolutely anything concerning the containers in a cluster, can opt for AWS ECS. 

AWS ECS enables developers to deploy scalable applications running on a cluster through API or Application Program Interface and also manage them. Now, even the configurations of a container to run independent tasks are in the hands of a developer. 

Also, if you are using AWS Fargate, you will not need to manage capacity planning, maintain servers, or isolate container workloads; all such aspects that are related to the infrastructure management of your workload will be taken care of by AWS Fargate.

Now that you know the basics of AWS ECS, let’s have a look at the second container management tool, Kubernetes. 

What Is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes or K8s is another container management tool and certainly the most popular of that lot. It is a DevOps tool that was developed by Google before it was open-sourced in 2014. Now, it is an open-source container orchestration tool used to automate the process of deploying, maintaining, and scaling containerized applications.

Kubernetes helps developers to focus on the relevant stuff and not worry about the surrounding environment as once the tool is installed in the system all the computing, networking, and storage is handled by it on behalf of the workloads. Furthermore, the DevOps tools continuously focus on the health of the system, which means Kubernetes keeps an eye on the containers that are running properly, restarts the ones that are not working and allocates only the containers that are in a complete working state. 

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AWS ECS vs Kubernetes

Application Definition

AWS ECS: Amazon Elastic Container Services or AWS ECS is a container orchestration service that makes the overall work of deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications easy. Here applications are deployed as tasks which are actually Docker containers running on container instances (EC2 instances).
Kubernetes: Kubernetes or K8s is a container orchestration tool that automates several manual processes like software deployment, container management, and scaling. Here applications are deployed as a combination of pods, services, and deployments.


AWS ECS: When it comes to deployment AWS ECS provides easy and simple deployment of tasks. The native deployment system in ECS is rolling updates so once the initial setup is complete, the deployments can easily happen using the AWS management console.
Kubernetes: Deployments in Kubernetes are slightly complex and require expertise, but are still preferred by big organizations as it provides more features to manage workloads. Also, the users here can use both private and public container repositories.

Node support

AWS ECS: Talking about Node support, AWS ECS has up to 1,000 nodes.
Kubernetes: Kubernetes supports up to 5,000 nodes.


AWS ECS: In AWS ECS you can run up to 5,00,000 containers.
Kubernetes: In Kubernetes, you can run up to 3,00,000 containers.

Load Balancing

AWS ECS: When it comes to loading balancing in AWS ECS it can be taken care of by using the Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) service. Here, the AWS ELB provides a CNAME that acts as a resolvable front-facing FQDN for several tasks.
Kubernetes: In Kubernetes, an ingress resource is often used for load balancing. Also, there is a service to which pods are exposed and that service acts as a load-balancer.


AWS ECS: Talking about pricing, when companies want to spend less and still want to have great quality, Amazon ECS is their go-to. If you are using ECS it is absolutely free, but if you want to use some Amazon EC2 resources, you will have to pay for what you use.
Kubernetes: Using Kubernetes is undoubtedly expensive because of the complexity of the servers it uses to configure, deploy and maintain the clusters. There are several pricing plans for Kubernetes, the Basic Node plan starts at $12/month per node.


AWS ECS: If you want optimization in AWS ECS you will have to pay for Amazon EC2 resources.
Kubernetes: Kubernetes is optimized for a single large cluster.


AWS ECS: AWS ECS services use CloudWatch alarms to scale up or down considering different memory, CPU, and custom metrics.
Kubernetes: In Kubernetes, auto-scaling is defined declaratively using deployments or can be achieved using resource metrics, which range from memory utilization and CPU to packets or requests per second.

Health check

AWS ECS: AWS ECS uses CloudWatch for providing health checks.
Kubernetes: In Kubernetes, there are two types of health checks: liveness which refers to the responsible app and readiness which means that the app is responsive, but is not able to serve yet as it is busy preparing.

Service Discovery

AWS ECS: When it comes to service discovery in AWS ECS it can be discovered using a CNAME and an ELB.
Kubernetes: In Kubernetes services can be discovered using DNS or environment variables.

After you know the differences between the AWS ECS and Kubernetes, let’s have a look at the advantages of both tools one after the other.

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Advantages of AWS ECS

Some reasons why organizations prefer AWS ECS today are:

Serverless infrastructure

When you use AWS ECS you no longer have to worry about its infrastructure, which means you can freely work on the tool without thinking about managing servers, isolating container workloads for security purposes or handling capacity planning. All of this is made possible with AWS Fargate. So, all you have to do is define the requirements of your application, then for your launch type select Fargate in the console or CLI, and then whether it is about scaling or infrastructure management, it is all taken care of by Fargate.

Built-in security

One of the most decisive features of ECS is the built-in security. Each task in ECS can have its own IAM roles. Now, when the control is on such a granular level, you can limit the permissions for each container. It is on you to decide to whom to give access and who does not. This also provides extreme levels of isolation when the applications are being built. 

AWS integration

Another huge plus with AWS ECS is its integration with other AWS services which enables it to have a lot of services and solve several problems.

Spot instances

Spot Instances enable you to have huge cost savings by typically costing around 50-90% less as compared to On-Demand instances and all of it without making any compromises on availability or performance.

Finally, let’s have a look at the advantages of Kubernetes.

Advantages of Kubernetes

Some of the well-known benefits of using Kubernetes include:

Open source

Kubernetes is a completely open-source, flexible, and scalable container management tool that automates all the manual tasks involved in the container management process. The tool can be used to manage, scale, and deploy containerized applications anywhere.

Cost efficient 

Organizations migrate to Kubernetes considering the cost efficiency it brings to the table. Today, companies have a varying range of demand and scalability so having a tool that can meet these requirements is important. And, if you have a tool like that you do not have to worry about the cost.


One of the most popular advantages of Kubernetes is its autoscaling benefit, which means the tool can automatically increase (scale up) or decrease (scale down) the number of containers automatically considering the market demand. There are three types of auto-scaling capabilities in Kubernetes - Horizontal Pod Autoscaler (HPA), Vertical Pod Autoscaler (VPA), and Cluster Autoscaler.

Ability to run anywhere

Irrespective of the infrastructure each Kubernetes container runtime can be used. If you are using a recent version of the Operating system (somewhere around 2016 or newer) you will be able to use Kubernetes on your on-premise or public cloud workloads.

Multi-cloud capability 

Considering the portability of the tool, Kubernetes cannot only be used to host workloads on a single cloud but also workloads spread across multiple clouds. Hence, Kubernetes can simply scale from one cloud to another, which makes it even more favorable for some rising cloud businesses across the globe. 

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By now you would have learnt everything required to understand the difference between the two container management tools, Amazon Elastic Container Service and Kubernetes. First, you saw the basics of both tools and once you know the basics you went on to learn the differences between the tools. There were several categories of differences that you checked. And, once you knew about those distinguishable factors you went on to learn about the advantages of AWS ECS followed by Kubernetes.

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No, definitely not! ECS and Kubernetes are both container management tools and may have some similarities too, but they are way too different from each other. Amazon ECS offers several more features in comparison to Kubernetes and is somewhat easier too. So, that is the reason why beginners prefer to start with ECS rather than K8s.

Amazon ECS or Amazon Elastic Container Service refers to a scalable container management service which enables users to run and handle a huge number of containers. 

Amazon EKS or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service is popular when it comes to running Kubernetes on AWS. EKS enables Kubernetes to run as a managed service and manages the K8s control plane.

Amazon Elastic Container Service or ECS is known to be a scalable container management tool that provides high performance. It supports Docker containers and enables the user to run several applications of the Amazon EC2 cluster.

It is one of those remarkable features which makes AWS ECS, even more, preferred that it is completely free. Though, if you want to use some AWS resources like EC2 instances or EBS volumes you will have to pay.

There are no charges when it comes to ECS. But, if you are running instances then you will have to pay. The charge for each ECS AWS anywhere on-premises instance is $0.01025 per hour.