Amazon EKS: Alternatives and Review
Kubernetes is one of the most popular choices for automating and managing Linux container operations. Originally developed by Google, the open-source Kubernetes project is now in use by some of the world’s largest enterprises. These include IBM, Nokia, Comcast, and Samsung.
With the rise of Kubernetes itself, we’ve also seen growth in accompanying services that aim to make it easier for developers to use Kubernetes. Amazon EKS is one such service.
Since its release to the general public in June 2018, Amazon EKS has generated a good deal of buzz among Amazon Web Services customers. But is it worth the hype, and what are the Amazon EKS alternatives out there?
In this blog post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Amazon EKS. We’ll include brief history, the pros and cons, user reviews, and a look at your alternative options.
What is Amazon EKS?
Amazon EKS (Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes) is a managed service from the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. Specifically, Amazon EKS aims to make it easier for AWS users to run Kubernetes without needing to install or manage their own Kubernetes clusters.
“What exactly is Kubernetes?” you might ask. Kubernetes is an open-source platform for managing software applications that have been packaged into so-called “containers” along with their libraries, dependencies, and settings. Containers make it easier for developers to ensure that their code behaves predictably even when running in different IT environments.
Amazon EKS takes care of Kubernetes deployment, management, and scaling, freeing users from having to handle these onerous technical details. Microservices, batch processing, and application migration are just a few of the ways that Amazon EKS might help organizations.
Amazon EKS Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is Amazon EKS?”, we’ll discuss whether the Amazon EKS service actually meets the expectations outlined above. In this section, we’ll go over the pros and cons of Amazon EKS.
Amazon EKS Advantages
- Good for AWS customers: Amazon EKS may be a wise choice if you’re very sure that you want to stick with AWS well into the future. If you migrate to another public cloud provider like Microsoft or Google, you’ll have to rework your operations all over again.
- Automated control plane management: The Kubernetes control plane is a collection of processes that are running on a single cluster of computers. Amazon EKS handles the task of control plane management, taking it out of your hands.
- Serverless architecture: Amazon EKS uses serverless architecture, which means that you don’t have to worry about manually overseeing your server rentals. You can write and deploy code without having to worry about managing or scaling the underlying infrastructure.
Amazon EKS Disadvantages
- Not “cloud-agnostic”: Amazon EKS is only a solution for those companies that want to perform work on AWS. It’s a poor choice if you want to easily move applications between multiple public cloud providers. You’ll have to handle the task of container orchestration on these other clouds as well.
- Not dynamic: Even if you want to use Amazon EKS as part of a larger multi-cloud puzzle, you’ll still need to handle the administration part yourself. This can pose challenges for dynamic multi-cloud models, where applications need to move quickly and easily between different cloud providers.
- No integration: Of course, as an AWS-exclusive service, Amazon EKS doesn’t offer integrations with other managed Kubernetes services, and it isn’t likely to do so any time soon.
Amazon EKS Reviews
In general, Amazon EKS has been well-received by many AWS customers. On the tech review platform G2 Crowd, Amazon EKS reviews currently have an average score of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 10 user ratings.
According to these reviews, the greatest benefit of Amazon EKS is the ability to abstract away the underlying complexities of Kubernetes. One user says: “The best thing is that I don’t need to install and operate my own Kubernetes control plane. Instead, it makes work easy by giving us an API endpoint from which we can directly connect to the EKS managed control panel.” Another user writes approvingly that Amazon EKS “automatically manages the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes masters.”
However, the Amazon EKS reviews on G2 Crowd also point out two main disadvantages of the service: the pricing and the learning curve. Multiple reviewers note that Amazon EKS can be costly, especially for smaller businesses:
- “It is a little expensive for business…”
- “Can get pricy for small businesses”
- “I dislike the pricing structure – maybe lower prices for smaller-sized businesses and those using it less, so that more could roll it out.”
In addition, some reviewers complain that the Amazon EKS learning curve can be challenging for new users:
- “It takes a bit of an adjustment to learn the ropes of the whole process and overall general concept.”
- “Can add more documentation on errors, it was hard to debug some errors. I had to rely on public sites to do it.”
- “The configuration learning curve can be a bit steep for some.”
Another user frustrated by the Amazon EKS difficulty is Matthew Barlocker, software engineer and CEO at the AWS infrastructure monitoring company Blue Matador. He writes: “I found more negatives than positives… EKS is too complicated to set up to be valuable for newer users, and too fragile to be valuable to a legitimate DevOps person.”
Given some of the issues discussed above, it’s understandable that some customers might want to find Amazon EKS alternatives.
The two other major cloud players, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, both offer Kubernetes services that are very similar to Amazon EKS: Azure Kubernetes Service and Google Kubernetes Engine, respectively. Both offerings are well-reviewed on G2 Crowd, although some users mention having similar learning curve issues.
For the 85 percent of enterprises that operate in multicloud environments, however, services like Amazon EKS and Google Kubernetes Engine may not be enough to keep them satisfied. That’s why Iron.io offers IronWorker. IronWorker is a container-based platform that can easily be configured to work with Kubernetes as well as all the major public cloud providers.
Just like Amazon EKS, IronWorker’s goal is to handle all of the complicated technical issues with Kubernetes. This allows developers to produce more valuable and meaningful work. IronWorker has a variety of deployment options. These options can fit the needs of any organization, including shared infrastructure, hybrid cloud, dedicated servers, and on-premises. IronWorker is a matur feature-rich alternative to Amazon EKS. It lessens the IT burden and lets you focus on higher-quality final products.
Amazon EKS is a popular option for teams that want to simplify their Kubernetes deployments, but it’s not necessarily the best choice for all organizations. For example, companies that are already heavily invested in Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform may opt for the offering from their preferred cloud provider.
Meanwhile, companies that are looking for flexibility across multiple clouds (including private and hybrid cloud setups) would do well to check out services like IronWorker.