Running Containers Without Managing EC2 Instances - AWS ECS Tutorial

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Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) provides a powerful solution for running containers without the need to manage EC2 instances. With ECS, you can focus on deploying and scaling your containerized applications while AWS handles the infrastructure management. This tutorial will guide you through the steps of running containers on ECS without the overhead of managing EC2 instances.

Steps to Run Containers Without Managing EC2 Instances

Follow these steps to run containers without managing EC2 instances using Amazon ECS:

  1. Create a Task Definition: Define the specifications for your containerized application, such as the container image, CPU and memory requirements, and networking configuration. Use the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or AWS SDKs to create a task definition.
  2. Create a Cluster: Create an ECS cluster, which is a logical grouping of resources, including the underlying EC2 instances that ECS manages for you. You can choose between the Fargate launch type, which abstracts the EC2 instances, or the EC2 launch type, which provides more control over the underlying infrastructure.
  3. Create a Service: Define a service to manage and run your tasks within the cluster. Specify the task definition to use, the desired number of tasks to run, and any additional configurations such as load balancing.
  4. Launch and Monitor: Launch your service and monitor the status of your tasks. You can use the AWS Management Console or AWS CLI to view the task and service status, logs, and performance metrics.

Example: Creating a Task Definition with AWS CLI

Here's an example of creating a task definition using the AWS CLI:

    aws ecs register-task-definition \
      --family my-task-definition \
      --container-definitions '[        {          "name": "my-container",          "image": "my-container-image",          "cpu": 256,          "memory": 512        }      ]'

This command registers a task definition named "my-task-definition" with a single container named "my-container" and its corresponding properties.

Common Mistakes

  • Incorrectly configuring the task definition, such as not specifying the correct container image or resource requirements.
  • Choosing the wrong launch type (Fargate or EC2) based on the application's requirements.
  • Not properly monitoring the resource utilization of tasks and clusters, leading to inefficient resource allocation.
  • Overlooking security configurations, such as not properly defining IAM roles or configuring VPC networking.
  • Not leveraging the flexibility of task definitions, such as using environment variables or defining task placement constraints.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use my own EC2 instances with ECS?

    Yes, ECS provides an EC2 launch type that allows you to use your existing EC2 instances within an ECS cluster. This gives you more control over the underlying infrastructure while still benefiting from ECS's orchestration capabilities.

  2. What is the difference between Fargate and EC2 launch types?

    Fargate is a serverless launch type that abstracts the underlying EC2 instances. It allows you to run containers without managing the infrastructure. The EC2 launch type, on the other hand, gives you more control over the EC2 instances running your containers.

  3. How does ECS manage task placement and scaling?

    ECS automatically manages the placement of tasks across the available EC2 instances based on resource requirements and constraints defined in the task definition. It also provides scaling options, such as service auto scaling, to adjust the number of tasks based on demand.

  4. Can I use load balancers with ECS?

    Yes, ECS integrates with Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to distribute incoming traffic across your containers. You can configure load balancers to ensure high availability and scalability for your containerized applications.

  5. How can I collect and analyze logs from containers running on ECS?

    You can configure your containers to send logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, a fully managed log management service. From there, you can analyze and monitor your container logs using CloudWatch Logs features and integrations with other AWS services.


Running containers without managing EC2 instances is made possible by Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS). In this tutorial, you learned about the steps involved in running containers on ECS without the need to manage EC2 instances. You explored the creation of a task definition, cluster, and service, and gained insights into common mistakes to avoid. Additionally, you found answers to FAQs related to running containers without managing EC2 instances on ECS. Now you have the knowledge to leverage ECS's managed infrastructure and focus on deploying and scaling your containerized applications with ease and efficiency.