Amazon EC2 Container Service vs IBM Containers: What are the differences?
What is Amazon EC2 Container Service? Container management service that supports Docker containers. Amazon EC2 Container Service lets you launch and stop container-enabled applications with simple API calls, allows you to query the state of your cluster from a centralized service, and gives you access to many familiar Amazon EC2 features like security groups, EBS volumes and IAM roles.
What is IBM Containers? Fully managed Kubernetes Offering by IBM. Managed Kubernetes offering to deliver powerful tools, an intuitive user experience, and built-in security and isolation to enable rapid delivery of applications all while leveraging Services including Watson, Weather, IoT, etc.
Amazon EC2 Container Service and IBM Containers can be primarily classified as "Containers as a Service" tools.
Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 Container Service are:
- Docker Compatibility
- Managed Clusters
- Programmatic Control
On the other hand, IBM Containers provides the following key features:
- Managed Kubernetes with simplified cluster management from IBM
- Cluster isolation choice (virtual - shared or dedicated compute and bare metal)
- Vulnerability Advisor introspects every layer in each image for known vulnerabilities and configuration weaknesses, as well as live container scanning
What is Amazon EC2 Container Service?
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We began our hosting journey, as many do, on Heroku because they make it easy to deploy your application and automate some of the routine tasks associated with deployments, etc. However, as our team grew and our product matured, our needs have outgrown Heroku. I will dive into the history and reasons for this in a future blog post.
We decided to migrate our infrastructure to Kubernetes running on Amazon EKS. Although Google Kubernetes Engine has a slightly more mature Kubernetes offering and is more user-friendly; we decided to go with EKS because we already using other AWS services (including a previous migration from Heroku Postgres to AWS RDS). We are still in the process of moving our main website workloads to EKS, however we have successfully migrate all our staging and testing PR apps to run in a staging cluster. We developed a Slack chatops application (also running in the cluster) which automates all the common tasks of spinning up and managing a production-like cluster for a pull request. This allows our engineering team to iterate quickly and safely test code in a full production environment. Helm plays a central role when deploying our staging apps into the cluster. We use CircleCI to build docker containers for each PR push, which are then published to Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECR). An
upgrade-operator process watches the ECR repository for new containers and then uses Helm to rollout updates to the staging environments. All this happens automatically and makes it really easy for developers to get code onto servers quickly. The immutable and isolated nature of our staging environments means that we can do anything we want in that environment and quickly re-create or restore the environment to start over.
The next step in our journey is to migrate our production workloads to an EKS cluster and build out the CD workflows to get our containers promoted to that cluster after our QA testing is complete in our staging environments.
We use the container service so that we can deploy our application services with Dockerfiles, so that we can test locally and deploy to AWS simply.
Additionally, the ability to scale containers and have them automatically restart in case of failure is very helpful to our operations.
We use the EC2 registry for secure private container registration. When used in combination with I AM roles we can control customer access to repos on and individual basis.
Amazon EC2 is our primary application hosting solution. Most applications are not exposed on the internet and use a virtually private cloud to interact with each other.
With a little forethought, ECS can handle a good portion of my development stack as though it were production. 12 Factor configuration makes this a breeze.