AWS Fargate: Overview and Alternatives

shipping containers

AWS Fargate is a serverless container management service (container as a service) that allows developers to focus on their application and not their infrastructure. While AWS Fargate does help with container orchestration, it does leave areas of concern where IronWorker fills the void.

You should be paying less for your AWS Fargate workloads.  Workload efficient enterprises are leaving Fargate for IronWorker. Speak to us to talk about why.

What are containers?

Before we talk about AWS Fargate, let’s talk about making software and containers. Making software applications behave predictably on different computers is one of the biggest challenges for developers. Software may need to run in multiple environments: development, testing, staging, and production. Differences in these environments can cause unexpected behavior, yet be very hard to track down.

To solve these challenges, more and more developers are using a technology called containers. Each container encapsulates an entire runtime environment. This includes the application itself, as well as the dependencies, libraries, frameworks, and configuration files that it needs to run.

Docker and Kubernetes were two of the first container technologies, but they are by no means the only alternatives. These containers are then used in container management services. For example, IronWorker, Iron.io’s container management service, uses Docker containers.

What is AWS Fargate?

Amazon’s first entry into the container market was Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS). While many customers saw value in ECS, this solution often required a great deal of tedious manual configuration and oversight. For example, some containers may have to work together despite needing entirely different resources.

Performing all this management is the bane of many developers and IT staff. It requires a great deal of resources and effort, and it takes time away from what’s most important: deploying applications.

In order to solve these problems, Amazon has introduced AWS Fargate. According to Amazon, Fargate is “a compute engine for Amazon ECS that allows you to run containers without having to manage servers or clusters.”

Fargate separates the task of running containers from the task of managing the underlying infrastructure. Users can simply specify the resources that each container requires, and Fargate will handle the rest. For example, there’s no need to select the right server type, or fiddle with complicated multi-layered access rules.

AWS Fargate vs ECS vs EKS

docked ship with containers

Besides Fargate, Amazon’s other cloud computing offerings are ECS and EKS (Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes). ECS and EKS are largely for users of Docker and Kubernetes, respectively, who don’t mind doing the “grunt work” of manual configuration aka container orchestration.

One advantage of Fargate is that you don’t have to start out using it as an AWS customer. Instead, you can begin with ECS or EKS and then migrate to Fargate if you decide that it’s a better fit.

In particular, Fargate is a good choice if you find that you’re leaving a lot of compute power or memory on the table. Unlike ECS and EKS, Fargate only charges you for the CPU and memory that you actually use.

AWS Fargate: Pros and Cons

AWS Fargate is an exciting technology, but does it really live up to the hype? Below, we’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of using AWS Fargate.

Pro’s:

    • Less Complexity
    • Better Security
    • Lower Costs (Maybe)

Con’s:

    • Less Customization
    • Higher Costs (Maybe)
    • Region Availability

Pro: Less Complexity

These days, tech companies are offering everything “as a service,” taking the complexity out of users’ hands. There’s software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and dozens of other buzzwords.

In this vein, Fargate is a Container as a Service (CaaS) technology. You don’t have to worry about where you’ll deploy your containers, or how you’ll manage and scale them. Instead, you can focus on defining the right parameters for your containers (e.g. compute, storage, and networking) for a successful deployment.

Pro: Better Security

Due to their complexity, Amazon ECS and EKS present a few security concerns. Having multiple layers of tasks and containers in your stack means that you need to handle security for each one.

With Fargate, however, the security of your IT infrastructure is no longer your concern. Instead, you embed security within the container itself. You can also combine Fargate with container security companies such as Twistlock. These companies offer products for guarding against attacks on running applications in Fargate.

Pro: Lower Costs (Maybe)

If you’re migrating from Amazon ECS or EKS, then Fargate could be a cheaper alternative. This is for two main reasons:

    • As mentioned above, Fargate charges you only when your container workloads are running inside the underlying virtual machine. It does not charge you for the total time that the VM instance is running.
    • Fargate does a good job at task scheduling, making it easier to start and stop containers at a specific time.

Want some more good news? In January 2019, Fargate users saw a major price reduction that will slash operating expenses by 35 to 50 percent.

Con: Less Customization

Of course, the downside of Fargate is that you sacrifice customization options for ease of use. As a result, Fargate is not well-suited for users who need greater control over their containers. These users may have special requirements for governance, risk management, and compliance that require fine-tuned control over their IT infrastructure.

Con: Higher Costs (Maybe)

Sure, Fargate is a cost-saving opportunity in the right situation when switching from ECS or EKS. For simpler use cases, however, Fargate may actually end up being more expensive. Amazon charges Fargate users a higher per-hour fee than ECS and EKS users. This is to compensate for the complexity of managing your containers’ infrastructure.

In addition, running your container workloads in the cloud will likely be more expensive than operating your own infrastructure on-premises. What you gain in ease of use, you lose in flexibility and performance.

Con: Regional Availability

AWS Fargate is slowly rolling out across Amazon’s cloud data centers, but it’s not yet available in all regions. As of June 2020, Fargate is not available for the following Amazon regions:

    • AWS Fargate (EKS)
      • Northern California 
      • Montreal
      • São Paulo
      • GovCloud (US-West and US-East)
      • London
      • Milan*
      • Paris
      • Stockholm
      • Bahrain
      • Cape Town
      • Osaka*
      • Seoul
      • Mumbai
      • Hong Kong
      • Beijing
      • Ningxia
    • * = Includes AWS Fargate (ECS)

AWS Fargate Reviews

user reviews

Even though AWS Fargate is still a new technology, it has earned mostly positive feedback on the tech review platform G2 Crowd. As of this writing, AWS Fargate has received an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 12 G2 Crowd users.

Multiple users praise AWS Fargate’s ease of use. One customer says that Fargate “made the job of deploying and maintaining containers very easy.” A second customer praises Fargate’s user interface, calling it “simple and very easy to navigate.”

Another reviewer calls AWS Fargate an excellent solution: “I have been working with AWS Fargate for 1 or 2 years, and as a cloud architect it’s a boon for me…  It becomes so easy to scale up and scale down dynamically when you’re using AWS Fargate.”

Despite these advantages, AWS Fargate customers do have some complaints:

    • One user wishes that the learning curve were easier, writing that “it requires some amount of experience on Amazon EC2 and knowledge of some services.”
    • Multiple users mention that the cost of AWS Fargate is too high for them: “AWS Fargate is costlier when compared with other services”; “the pricing isn’t great and didn’t fit our startup’s needs.”
    • Finally, another user has issues with Amazon’s support: “as it’s a new product introduced in 2017, the quality of support is not so good.”

AWS Fargate Alternatives: AWS Fargate vs Iron.io

While AWS offers Fargate as a serverless container platform running on Docker, Iron.io offers an alternative industry leading solution called IronWorker. IronWorker is a container-based platform with Docker support for performing work on-demand. Just like AWS Fargate, IronWorker takes care of all the messy questions about servers and scaling. All you have to do on your end is develop applications, and then queue up tasks for processing.

Why select IronWorker over AWS Fargate?

IronWorker has been helping customers grow their business since 2015. Even with IronWorker’s AWS Fargate’s similarities, IronWorker has the advantage in:

    • Support
    • Simplicity
    • Deployment Options

Support

We understand every application and project is different. Luckily, Iron.io offers a “white glove” approach by developing custom configurations to get your tasks up and running. No project is too big, so please contact our development team to get your project started.  We also understand that documentation is critical to any developer and have made a Dev Center to help answer your questions.

Simplicity

When you start your free 14 day trial, you will get to interact with the simple and easy to use Iron.io dashboard.  Once you have your project running, you will receive detailed analytics providing both a high level synopsis and granular metrics.

Deployment Options

As of June 2020, Fargate’s container scaling technology is not available for on-premises deployments. On the other hand, one of the main goals of Iron.io is for the platform to run anywhere. Iron.io offers a variety of deployment options to fit every company’s needs:

    • Shared
      • Users can run containers on Iron.io’s shared cloud infrastructure.
    • Hybrid
      • Users benefit from a hybrid cloud and on-premises solution. Containers run on in-house hardware, while Iron.io handles concerns such as scheduling and authentication. This is a smart choice for organizations who already have their own server infrastructure, or who have concerns about data security in the cloud.
    • Dedicated
      • Users can run containers on Iron.io’s dedicated server hardware, making their applications more consistent and reliable. With Iron.io’s automatic scaling technology, users don’t have to worry about manually increasing or decreasing their usage.
    • On-premises
      • Finally, users can run IronWorker on their own in-house IT infrastructure. This is the best choice for customers who have strict regulations for compliance and security. Users in finance, healthcare, and government may all need to run containers on-premises.

Conclusion

Like it or now, AWS Fargate is a leader in serverless container managment services. As we’ve discussed in this article, however, it’s certainly not the right choice for every company. It’s true that Fargate often provides extra time and convenience. However, Fargate users will also sacrifice control and incur potentially higher costs.

As alternative to AWS Fargate, IronWorker has proven itself an enterprise solution for companies such as Hotel Tonight, Bleacher Report and UntappdIronWorker, made by Iron.io, offers a mature, feature-rich alternative to Fargate, ECS and EKS. Users can run containers on-premises, in the cloud, or benefit from a hybrid solution. Like Fargate, IronWorker takes care of infrastructure questions such as servers, scaling, setup, and maintenance. This gives your developers more time to spend on deploying code and creating value for your organization.

Looking for an AWS Fargate alternative?

Speak to us to learn about overcoming the issues associated with Fargate.

Amazon EKS Alternatives and Review

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?

 aws eks alternative

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

elastic kubernetes service options

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.”

Amazon EKS Alternatives

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.

Conclusion

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.

Interested in learning more about Iron.io? Give it a test drive with a free, full-feature, no-obligations trial for 14 days. Contact us today to request a demo of IronWorker or IronMQ.