AWS Fargate and Kubernetes are two popular alternatives for container management software—but which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Fargate and Kubernetes to make the right choice: features, cost, reviews, and more.
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AWS Fargate vs. Kubernetes: Features and Benefits
AWS Fargate Features
AWS Fargate is part of the Amazon Web Services public cloud. The features of AWS Fargate include:
- Serverless computing: AWS Fargate is a serverless platform, which means that users don’t have to deal with provisioning and managing servers themselves. Instead, you can simply start and stop containers when you want, and pay only for the resources you consume. This model is often referred to as CaaS (containers as a service).
- Part of the AWS ecosystem: AWS offers a wide variety of products and services—from compute and storage to data analytics. This includes Amazon ECS and EKS, which are container management services that require more manual configuration than Fargate. If you’re already an AWS customer, using Fargate could be a natural next step.
Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration system originally built by Google. The features of Kubernetes include:
- Flexibility: Unlike AWS Fargate, Kubernetes isn’t tied to a specific deployment environment, which helps you avoid vendor lock-in. You can install Kubernetes in the public cloud or on-premises, as suits your needs. In fact, Amazon offers its own managed Kubernetes solution: Amazon EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service).
- Rich feature set: Kubernetes provides a variety of abstractions and features to help manage and orchestrate your containers. With Kubernetes, you can automate container deployments, monitoring, horizontal and vertical scaling, load balancing, rollbacks, and more.
AWS Fargate vs. Kubernetes: Pricing
While both AWS Fargate and Kubernetes are full of appealing features, that’s not the only factor that matters when choosing a container management solution. In this section, we’ll discuss how much AWS Fargate and Kubernetes cost for the average enterprise.
How Much Does AWS Fargate Cost?
AWS Fargate pricing is based on a “pay as you go” model: there are no upfront costs, and you pay only for the compute and memory resources that you consume. As of writing, the AWS website lists the following prices for the US east region:
- $0.04048 per vCPU per hour
- $0.004445 per gigabyte per hour
“Spot pricing” is a technique to lower your AWS Fargate costs for tasks that can handle occasional interruptions. With spot pricing, if AWS needs the resources you’re using for other purposes, it will interrupt your current task with two minutes of advance notice. As of writing, AWS spot pricing is as follows:
- $0.01255409 per vCPU per hour
- $0.00137853 per gigabyte per hour
For tasks that can handle stops and starts from time to time, spot pricing is an excellent way to dramatically slash your AWS Fargate costs.
How Much Does Kubernetes Cost?
Kubernetes is ostensibly a free and open-source platform. However, using Kubernetes in production in an enterprise IT environment will likely require you to use a Kubernetes managed service.
A study by Replex.io looked at the costs of running a 100-core, 400-gigabyte Kubernetes cluster on the top three public cloud providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. The costs of running Kubernetes for one year are as follows:
- AWS: $50,882 (direct deployment, on-demand instances); $50,064 (managed Kubernetes, on-demand instances)
- Microsoft Azure: $43,730 (direct deployment, on-demand instances); $42,048 (managed Kubernetes, on-demand instances)
- Google Cloud Platform: $32,040 (direct deployment, on-demand instances); $30,874 (managed Kubernetes, on-demand instances)
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AWS Fargate vs. Kubernetes: Reviews
AWS Fargate and Kubernetes both seem like appealing options—so what do their users have to say? In this section, we’ll go over AWS Fargate and Kubernetes reviews from real customers to see how these container management solutions work in the real world.
AWS Fargate Reviews
AWS Fargate currently has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the business software review website G2. According to one reviewer, AWS Fargate is “simple container management that simply works”:
“As with most Amazon AWS products, Fargate's UI is simple and very easy to navigate. I love that the AWS Fargate product allows for container storage management without the management of servers, as well.”
Most reviewers give Fargate 4 or 5 stars, but they also mention some potential issues:
- The need for in-depth knowledge of other AWS offerings such as Amazon EC2.
- Some issues with support and documentation.
- Higher costs than running your own servers on-premises.
Kubernetes, meanwhile, has received a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on G2. Reviewer Marek O. writes:
“Kubernetes does a really good job when it comes to container orchestration... It has reduced time-to-live for our services by an order of magnitude. It also helps to avoid vendor lock-in and allows easy portability of your tech stack between various infrastructure providers, both in the cloud and on-premises.”
While most Kubernetes reviews are largely positive, some users note a few issues with the platform:
- A steep learning curve for users who are new to Kubernetes (including poor documentation), as well as challenges with troubleshooting.
- The lack of a default graphical user interface.
- Below-average ratings for ease of setup (6.7 out of 10, vs. the industry average of 7.8) and ease of use (7.4 out of 10, vs. the industry average of 8.3).
AWS Fargate vs. Kubernetes Alternatives
While AWS Fargate and Kubernetes are both competitive options for a container management tool, they’re far from the only choices out there. IronWorker is a container-based distributed work-on-demand platform that has been designed to remedy exactly the issues that many users face with Fargate and Kubernetes.
IronWorker has been built from the ground up to be a powerful, user-friendly, cost-effective container management solution. The benefits of IronWorker include:
- Flexibility: Unlike AWS Fargate, IronWorker can run in any environment: public cloud, on-premises, dedicated servers, or a hybrid configuration that combines on-premises and the cloud. This lets you avoid vendor lock-in and easily adapt to a rapidly changing IT landscape.
- Simplicity: IronWorker offers a clear, straightforward, user-friendly dashboard that provides detailed insights into both high-level trends and granular metrics. Like AWS Fargate, IronWorker is serverless, so you don’t need to worry about managing servers yourself.
- Excellent support: The IronWorker platform also has extensive documentation, including code samples and training videos, so that you can get up to speed right away. Iron.io also offers “white-glove” support to help you with custom configurations.
Eddie Dombrowski, the senior software engineer at Bleacher Report, describes how his team saw a “dramatic performance improvement” when switching to IronWorker:
“Before Iron.io, we were constantly triaging production issues. After Iron.io, we delivered billions of push notifications with ease.”
To sum up, let’s look at some of the most important factors in our AWS Fargate vs. Kubernetes comparison:
- Features: Fargate uses the serverless computing model, while the standard version of Kubernetes does not. Fargate can only be deployed in the AWS cloud, while Kubernetes can be deployed in any public cloud or on-premises.
- Pricing: AWS Fargate is a “pay as you go” solution, while the pricing and payment model of Kubernetes will depend on the provider you choose.
- Reviews: Both AWS Fargate and Kubernetes are generally well-reviewed, although some users have mentioned problems with high costs and steep learning curves.
AWS Fargate and Kubernetes are both popular choices for container management software—but they’re far from the only option, and they aren't the right option for every organization. The possible disadvantages of Fargate and Kubernetes include potentially higher costs, a steep learning curve, and challenges with support and documentation.
IronWorker is a mature, feature-rich container management solution that powers high-demand websites such as HotelTonight, Bleacher Report, and Untappd.
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