AWS Fargate vs. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): which one is the best container management solution? In this Fargate vs. AKS comparison, we’ll go over features, use cases, pricing, and more, so that you can make the decision that’s best for your situation.
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AWS Fargate vs. AKS: Basics
AWS Fargate is a serverless compute engine that runs containers in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud. Fargate is intended to be used with one of Amazon’s container orchestration services: Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service) or Amazon EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service).
AKS is Microsoft Azure’s reply to AWS Fargate: like Fargate, AKS is a serverless compute engine that runs in the Azure public cloud. There are two important differences between Fargate and AKS:
- AKS is a container orchestration tool, which means that it handles additional concerns such as scheduling, scaling, networking, and more. AWS Fargate is an abstraction layer, while the actual orchestration is handled by Amazon ECS or EKS.
- AKS, as its name suggests, is only compatible with the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. Fargate is compatible both with Kubernetes and with Amazon ECS, which is Amazon’s own proprietary container orchestration service.
AWS Fargate vs. AKS: Features
The most important feature of both Fargate and AKS is serverless computing. In the “serverless” paradigm, the servers on which applications run are automatically provisioned and managed, instead of users having to handle these concerns for themselves. Fargate, together with AWS Lambda, is an important addition to AWS’s serverless computing offerings.
Another major feature of both Fargate and AKS is being backed up by one of the “big three” public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services in the case of Fargate, and Microsoft Azure for AKS. Azure and AWS offer underlying benefits such as power, speed, scalability, and availability that come with the power of the public cloud. If you’re still not sure about your decision after reading this Fargate vs. AKS comparison, use a simple tiebreaker: which public cloud provider do you feel more comfortable using, or which one have you used more often?
AWS Fargate vs. AKS: Pros and Cons
The benefits of AWS Fargate include:
- Convenience: Serverless container management solutions such as AWS Fargate are good choices for users who simply want to “set it and forget it,” or users who have less experience with container management. Fargate lets you focus on what’s really important—the applications themselves—and worry less about the technical details of deploying them.
- AWS ecosystem: Fargate is an easy choice if you’re already using other parts of the AWS suite, such as data storage or ETL. As mentioned above, Fargate is already intended to be used with AWS container orchestration services such as Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS.
The disadvantages of AWS Fargate include:
- Technical constraints: The added convenience of Fargate can also be a downside for users who want more oversight and control over their containers. For example, Fargate does not allow users to access the underlying ECS or EKS instance.
- Higher costs (possibly): As a managed service, Fargate will most likely be more expensive than managing containers yourself, or deploying an on-premises solution. According to reviewer Ralph K. on the business software review website G2: “Fargate is a good bit pricier than running your own servers.”
The benefits of AKS include:
- Convenience: As another serverless container management tool, AKS offers the same ease of use and convenience as does AWS Fargate, helping to streamline and simplify your container deployment and operations.
- Agile support: The agile development methodology has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years, and for good reason: a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that agile projects are 28 percent more successful than traditional ones. AKS enables agile through integration with other Microsoft Azure services such as Azure DevOps, Azure Container Registry (ACR), and Azure Active Directory.
The disadvantages of AKS include:
- Poor support: On the business software review website G2, AKS receives a score of 7.0/10 for “quality of support,” compared with the average of 8.2/10 for all container management tools. One reviewer gives AKS 3 out of 5 stars, writing: “Support has not been that helpful, though they do try.”
- Technical limitations: Like AWS Fargate, AKS also suffers from several technical limitations that may be issues or dealbreakers for some users. According to one G2 user, trying to make changes to virtual machine nodes after deploying them is a pain: “Do not try to manually change the VM nodes. You can do it, but it makes upgrading and maintenance a real headache.” Other common problems include stability challenges, slow response times, and the lack of integration with Windows and Mac systems.
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AWS Fargate vs. AKS: Pricing
AWS Fargate is a “pay as you go” solution: you’re charged only for the compute and memory resources that you actually use. This has both pros and cons: it prevents you from wasting money, but it also makes it harder to estimate the costs of a large project using Fargate.
As of writing, the standard AWS Fargate costs are:
- $0.04048 per vCPU per hour
- $0.004445 per GB per hour
For more detailed information, we’ve written an entire AWS Fargate pricing guide. Note that if you’re willing to tolerate occasional interruption of your Fargate instances, you can substantially reduce your Fargate costs by using spot pricing.
Like AWS Fargate, AKS is also a “pay as you go” container management solution, with no upfront costs. AKS offers a wide range of instance options. For example, a D2 v3 node with 2 vCPUs, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and 50 gigabytes of temporary storage cost $0.117 per hour on AKS. Note that this is almost exactly the same cost as AWS Fargate: ($0.04048 * 2) + ($0.004445 * 8) = $0.11652 per hour.
AKS also offers the opportunity to save on costs by reserving virtual machine instances for a period of 1 or 3 years. To get a more accurate estimate of AKS costs, check out the AKS pricing calculator.
AWS Fargate vs. AKS Alternatives
AWS Fargate and AKS both have their pros and cons, but they’re far from the only container management software options out there. IronWorker is a serverless container management solution, like Fargate and AKS, that has a strong feature set and excellent support.
Unlike Fargate and AKS, which are restricted to a single public cloud, IronWorker offers a wide range of deployment options. Not only can IronWorker run in the public cloud (such as AWS or Microsoft Azure), it can also run on a dedicated server, on-premises, or in a hybrid setup that combines on-premises and the cloud. This helps you become more agile and less at risk of vendor lock-in.
IronWorker offers high-quality documentation to help ease the learning curve, including a development center with code samples and training videos. For complex projects and large enterprises, IronWorker also has “white-glove” support that will get you off on the right foot.
To sum up, here are the most important differences between AWS Fargate and AKS:
- Use cases: Fargate is a serverless container management tool that is used in conjunction with container orchestration services such as Amazon ECS and EKS. AKS, on the other hand, is a container orchestration service itself.
- Public cloud: Fargate runs in the Amazon Web Services public cloud, while AKS runs in the Microsoft Azure public cloud. This means that both offer the possibility of integrations and synergies with other AWS and Azure services, respectively.
- Pricing: Both Fargate and AKS seem to have very similar pricing, which is likely higher than running containers on your own
If neither Fargate nor AKS seems like the right fit, give IronWorker a try. The IronWorker container management service powers some of the world’s most visited websites, including HotelTonight, Bleacher Report, and Untappd.
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