Amazon EC2 vs AWS Elastic Beanstalk: What are the differences?
What is Amazon EC2? Scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
What is AWS Elastic Beanstalk? Quickly deploy and manage applications in the AWS cloud. Once you upload your application, Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
Amazon EC2 belongs to "Cloud Hosting" category of the tech stack, while AWS Elastic Beanstalk can be primarily classified under "Platform as a Service".
Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 are:
- Elastic – Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.
- Completely Controlled – You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.
- Flexible – You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application.
On the other hand, AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides the following key features:
- Elastic Beanstalk is built using familiar software stacks such as the Apache HTTP Server for Node.js, PHP and Python, Passenger for Ruby, IIS 7.5 for .NET, and Apache Tomcat for Java
- There is no additional charge for Elastic Beanstalk - you pay only for the AWS resources needed to store and run your applications.
- Easy to begin – Elastic Beanstalk is a quick and simple way to deploy your application to AWS. You simply use the AWS Management Console, Git deployment, or an integrated development environment (IDE) such as Eclipse or Visual Studio to upload your application
"Quick and reliable cloud servers" is the top reason why over 644 developers like Amazon EC2, while over 74 developers mention "Integrates with other aws services" as the leading cause for choosing AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
According to the StackShare community, Amazon EC2 has a broader approval, being mentioned in 3605 company stacks & 1613 developers stacks; compared to AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which is listed in 374 company stacks and 118 developer stacks.
DigitalOcean was where I began; its USD5/month is extremely competitive and the overall experience as highly user-friendly.
However, their offerings were lacking and integrating with other resources I had on AWS was getting more costly (due to transfer costs on AWS). Eventually I moved the entire project off DO's Droplets and onto AWS's EC2.
One may initially find the cost (w/o free tier) and interface of AWS daunting however with good planning you can achieve highly cost-efficient systems with savings plans, spot instances, etcetera.
Do not dive into AWS head-first! Seriously, don't. Stand back and read pricing documentation thoroughly. You can, not to the fault of AWS, easily go way overbudget. Your first action upon getting your AWS account should be to set up billing alarms for estimated and current bill totals.
We first selected Google Cloud Platform about five years ago, because HIPAA compliance was significantly cheaper and easier on Google compared to AWS. We have stayed with Google Cloud because it provides an excellent command line tool for managing resources, and every resource has a well-designed, well-documented API. SDKs for most of these APIs are available for many popular languages. I have never worked with a cloud platform that's so amenable to automation. Google is also ahead of its competitors in Kubernetes support.
GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.
- In both cases, the instance much be shut down.
There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.
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