Comparing ECS and Fargate - AWS ECS Tutorial

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Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) provides two launch types: ECS and AWS Fargate. ECS allows you to manage your own EC2 instances to run containers, while Fargate abstracts the underlying infrastructure, enabling you to focus solely on running containers without managing instances. In this tutorial, we will compare ECS and Fargate, exploring their features, use cases, and considerations, to help you make an informed decision about which option is right for your containerized applications.

Features and Use Cases

Features Amazon ECS AWS Fargate
Control over underlying infrastructure Yes No
Instance management Required Abstracted
Scaling granularity EC2 instance Task level
Networking flexibility Advanced Managed by Fargate
Cost optimization Spot instances, instance types Optimized pricing

Amazon ECS: With ECS, you have full control over the underlying EC2 instances. It provides advanced networking options, such as VPCs, security groups, and placement strategies. It allows you to optimize costs by leveraging spot instances and choosing specific instance types for your workload.

AWS Fargate: Fargate, on the other hand, abstracts the infrastructure layer, eliminating the need for instance management. It provides a simpler scaling mechanism at the task level and manages networking aspects automatically. Fargate offers optimized pricing based on the resources allocated to your tasks.

Considerations for Choosing Between ECS and Fargate

When deciding between ECS and Fargate, consider the following factors:

  • Control: If you require fine-grained control over the underlying infrastructure, including networking configurations and instance types, ECS is a better choice.
  • Simplicity: If you want a serverless experience where you don't have to worry about managing instances and networking, Fargate provides a simpler and more abstracted approach.
  • Scaling: If your workload requires scaling at a granular level, such as scaling individual tasks, Fargate's task-level scaling is more suitable. If you prefer scaling based on the number of EC2 instances, ECS offers more flexibility.
  • Cost: Consider your cost optimization strategies. ECS allows you to leverage spot instances and choose instance types, which can lead to cost savings. Fargate offers optimized pricing based on resource allocation.
  • Application Compatibility: Some applications may have specific requirements or dependencies that are better suited for ECS or Fargate. Evaluate your application's needs to make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I switch from ECS to Fargate or vice versa?

    Yes, you can migrate your containers from ECS to Fargate or from Fargate to ECS. However, it requires updating your task definitions and modifying your infrastructure configurations. Plan the migration carefully and consider any impact on your application's availability.

  2. Is Fargate more expensive than ECS?

    The cost of Fargate depends on the allocated resources for your tasks, while ECS costs include the EC2 instance costs. In some cases, Fargate may be more expensive due to the additional abstraction and convenience it provides. Evaluate your workload's requirements and cost optimization strategies to determine the most cost-effective option.

  3. Can I use ECS and Fargate together in the same cluster?

    Yes, you can create a mixed cluster that contains both ECS and Fargate tasks. This allows you to leverage the benefits of each launch type within the same ECS cluster.

  4. Do ECS and Fargate support auto scaling?

    Yes, both ECS and Fargate support auto scaling. You can configure auto scaling policies based on various metrics such as CPU utilization or application-specific metrics to scale your tasks automatically.

  5. Can I use third-party schedulers with Fargate?

    No, Fargate is a managed service that abstracts the underlying infrastructure. You cannot use third-party schedulers with Fargate as the scheduling is managed by AWS.


In this tutorial, we compared ECS and Fargate, two launch types in Amazon Elastic Container Service. We explored their features, use cases, and considerations to help you make an informed decision. ECS provides more control and flexibility over the underlying infrastructure, while Fargate offers a serverless experience without the need for instance management. Consider factors such as control, simplicity, scaling needs, cost optimization, and application compatibility when choosing between ECS and Fargate. Both options have their advantages, and selecting the right one depends on your specific requirements and preferences.