Amazon EC2 Container Service vs ngrok: What are the differences?
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; ngrok: Securely expose a local web server to the internet and capture all traffic for detailed inspection and replay. ngrok is a reverse proxy that creates a secure tunnel between from a public endpoint to a locally running web service. ngrok captures and analyzes all traffic over the tunnel for later inspection and replay.
Amazon EC2 Container Service belongs to "Containers as a Service" category of the tech stack, while ngrok can be primarily classified under "localhost Tools".
Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 Container Service are:
- Docker Compatibility
- Managed Clusters
- Programmatic Control
On the other hand, ngrok provides the following key features:
- Expose any http service behind a NAT or firewall to the internet on a subdomain of ngrok.com
- Expose any tcp service behind a NAT or firewall to the internet on a random port of ngrok.com
- Inspect all http requests/responses that are transmitted over the tunnel
"Backed by amazon" is the primary reason why developers consider Amazon EC2 Container Service over the competitors, whereas "Easy to use" was stated as the key factor in picking ngrok.
ngrok is an open source tool with 16.5K GitHub stars and 2.87K GitHub forks. Here's a link to ngrok's open source repository on GitHub.
Instacart, Coursera, and Intuit are some of the popular companies that use Amazon EC2 Container Service, whereas ngrok is used by Bannerman, a2c systems, and F.biz. Amazon EC2 Container Service has a broader approval, being mentioned in 794 company stacks & 391 developers stacks; compared to ngrok, which is listed in 26 company stacks and 16 developer stacks.
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.