If you’re looking for a container management solution, you’ve no doubt come across the options of AWS Fargate and Google Kubernetes Engine. Both services are backed by two of the public cloud giants: AWS Fargate is part of the Amazon Web Services public cloud suite, while GKE is part of Google Cloud Platform.
But when it comes to the question of AWS Fargate vs. GKE, which one emerges the victor? In this article, we’ll do an in-depth comparison of AWS Fargate and GKE features, pricing, reviews, and more so that you can make the choice that’s best for your situation.
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AWS Fargate vs. GKE: Features and Benefits
AWS Fargate Features
AWS Fargate is part of the Amazon Web Services public cloud and can be used in conjunction with services such as Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service) and EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service).
The main distinction between Fargate, ECS, and EKS is that AWS Fargate is a serverless platform. Serverless computing is a paradigm in which servers are automatically provisioned and managed for you, rather than having to handle it yourself. The provider spins up and shuts down the server according to your needs so that you pay exactly for the resources you consume—and nothing else.
Fargate is thus an example of a CaaS (“containers as a service”) platform. This allows you to focus on building and running applications, rather than the technical details of their deployment.
Because Fargate is part of AWS, you can benefit from synergies with other products and services in the AWS cloud. Using Fargate makes more sense if you’re already an AWS customer.
AWS Fargate can also improve the security of your containers by executing each one in a separate runtime environment, with its own CPU, memory, storage, and network. By keeping each container in isolation, Fargate makes it exponentially more difficult for malicious actors to infiltrate the entire system.
Google Kubernetes Engine is a fully managed service that runs the Kubernetes open-source container orchestration system. GKE is part of the Google Cloud Platform public cloud, and you can use GKE either through the gcloud command-line tool or the Google Cloud Console.
In GKE, a master node is responsible for overseeing a cluster of Docker containers, which run on instances of Google Compute Engine. For each cluster, there is also a Kubernetes API server that allows users to interact with the nodes in the cluster and direct them to perform certain tasks. Single nodes in GKE may be grouped into "pods," which represent logically related containers that may work together on a common goal.
GKE includes pre-built deployment templates to help users go from development to production more quickly. Other important features of GKE include:
- Automatic horizontal pod and cluster scaling of CPU and memory resources.
- Automatic repairs for nodes that fail periodic health checks.
- Automatic upgrades to new versions of Kubernetes.
- Logging and monitoring capabilities to ensure high performance.
- Compliance with data security regulations such as HIPAA and PCI DSS.
AWS Fargate vs. GKE: Pricing
How Much Does AWS Fargate Cost?
AWS Fargate pricing uses a “pay as you go” model, which is convenient for users on tight budgets who want to control exactly how much they spend. There’s no startup fee to join Fargate; instead, you pay only for the vCPU and RAM that you consume. The AWS Fargate costs below were accurate at the time of writing for the US East region:
- $0.04048 per vCPU per hour
- $0.004445 per gigabyte per hour
If you use “spot pricing,” you can lower your AWS Fargate costs even more by allowing AWS to potentially interrupt your tasks (only if the resources are needed elsewhere). As you can see, the costs of AWS Fargate spot pricing are significantly lower than the standard pricing:
- $0.01255409 per vCPU per hour
- $0.00137853 per gigabyte per hour
How Much Does GKE Cost?
Like AWS Fargate, GKE pricing is fairly transparent:
- The GKE cluster management fee is $0.10 per cluster per hour (with the first cluster free). This cost is the same whether it’s a single-zone, multi-zonal, or regional cluster.
- Worker nodes in the cluster run on Google Cloud Platform’s Compute Engine. You can see the prices for various Compute Engine machines here.
Need a more detailed quote for your potential GKE cost? Check out the Google Cloud pricing calculator, where you can specify exactly the resources you plan to use and receive a precise estimate in return.
In general, AWS Fargate costs will be more expensive in practice than GKE pricing. This is because Fargate needs to run in conjunction with another container orchestration service such as Amazon ECS or EKS, which also costs money to run. A study by ParkMyCloud.com estimated the costs of running both Amazon EKS and GKE with 80 CPUs and 320 gigabytes of RAM for 1 year:
- Amazon EKS: $35,040/year
- GKE: $33,288/year
Remember, this is just the cost for the Amazon EKS overhead—you'll also have to pay Fargate's hourly CPU and memory charges. Fargate is convenient for users who don't want to provision and manage servers themselves, but this convenience comes at a cost.
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AWS Fargate vs. GKE: Reviews
AWS Fargate Reviews
As of writing, AWS Fargate had an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the business software review website G2. The benefits of AWS Fargate, according to reviewers, include:
- Not having to deal with configuring and managing server resources.
- Making it simpler to build cloud-native applications.
- Ease of installation and use.
While most AWS Fargate reviews are 4 or 5 stars, users on G2 still note that the platform has a few disadvantages, including:
- Higher costs than an on-premises deployment.
- The steep learning curve requires familiarity with other AWS services.
- Certain issues with support and documentation.
GKE, for its part, also has an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on G2. According to GKE reviews, the benefits of the platform include:
- Ease of use in terms of automatic scaling, upgrades, and more.
- A clear, straightforward user interface.
- Very rapid deployment.
However, no container management tool is without its drawbacks. The disadvantages of GKE, according to reviewers on G2, include:
- Relatively higher costs than running Kubernetes on other platforms.
- Higher complexity and steep learning curve for accomplishing certain tasks.
- Issues with outages and availability.
- Potential security issues based on penetration testing.
AWS Fargate vs. GKE Alternatives
While AWS Fargate and GKE may seem like good container management services, they do come with their own drawbacks—and they’re not the only container management tools out there. IronWorker is a massively parallel multi-language platform for distributed workers that helps resolve exactly the problems that many Fargate and GKE users suffer from.
The benefits of IronWorker for container management include:
- Flexibility: Like AWS Fargate, IronWorker is a serverless container management tool. Unlike AWS Fargate and GKE, which tie you to the AWS and Google public clouds, respectively, IronWorker is a highly flexible container management solution. You can deploy IronWorker any way you see fit: in the public cloud, on-premises, on a dedicated server, or with a hybrid solution combining the cloud and on-premises.
- Scalability: IronWorker is a high-performance tool that powers some of the most visited websites on the planet. The sports news website Bleacher Report uses IronWorker to power its Team Stream mobile app by deploying thousands of concurrent workers on its dedicated cloud platform during peak activities. To date, IronWorker has helped deliver billions of push notifications to 12 million Team Stream users around the world.
- High-quality support: Using IronWorker doesn’t require you to learn an entirely new cloud platform like you might have to do with AWS Fargate and GKE. IronWorker comes with excellent customer support and detailed documentation, including extensive source code and training videos, to make the learning curve as gentle as possible. Iron.io also offers “white-glove” support for large enterprises with specialized needs.
In this AWS Fargate vs. GKE comparison, we’ve discussed issues such as:
- Features: AWS Fargate and GKE are both part of major public cloud platforms.
- Pricing: Both AWS Fargate and GKE use a “pay as you go” pricing model for users who prefer more flexibility and control.
- Reviews: AWS Fargate and GKE reviews are both generally strong, although some users note issues with cost, learning curve, and lack of flexibility.
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