The Kubernetes Current Blog

Amazon EKS and EKS Anywhere – All You Need To Know

Kubernetes as we all know is a complex yet effective system with a lot of moving parts. Pods, services, replica sets, and namespaces are just a few of them. The complexity involved in efficiently managing applications on Kubernetes gave rise to managed Kubernetes solutions. In fact, as per a survey conducted by Datadog, more than 90% of Kubernetes users have leveraged managed Kubernetes services like Amazon’s Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS), Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) & Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to name a few.

Amazon EKS is a market-leading managed Kubernetes solution. It makes it easy to work with containers and is a production-ready managed service. However, when operating in a hybrid setup with regulated environments & kubernetes compliance requirements, one needs more control over their underlying servers. That’s where the EKS Anywhere solution comes in which allows users to create and manage clusters on their own infrastructure.

In this blog post, we are going to look into both Amazon EKS and EKS Anywhere and how they are different. By the end of this post, you will be able to pick the right offering for your organization.

Amazon EKS

With close to 50% market share when it comes to managed Kubernetes offerings, Amazon EKS is the most popular solution out there. Elastic Kubernetes Services is a managed service that enables you to run Kubernetes on AWS without you needing to deploy/manage the underlying resources.

It takes away the effort required by a developer to install a Kubernetes control plane or worker node and offers an easy-to-use solution to run Kubernetes on AWS. Along with this, it provides you with the reliability, availability, scale, and security of AWS infrastructure along with integration with other AWS services.

Features of Amazon EKS
  • Cluster Management: EKS provides a managed control plane and node groups along with a Kubernetes console that allows you to manage your clusters.
  • Network Management: It provides services like service discovery, authentication, VPCs, and much more out of the box. It handles all of this while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • EKS add-ons: You can also install common operational components required to extend Kubernetes functionality. With eks-add-ons you can add observability, networking, and other tools to your cluster.
  • Logging: EKS is integrated with AWS CloudTrail and provides advanced logging capabilities. It gives you visibility into various EKS operations & audit logs making debugging simpler.
  • Serverless Compute: With EKS, you can also leverage AWS Fargate to run your Kubernetes applications using serverless compute. It removes the need to provision and manage servers and allows you to specify and pay for the applications you use.
Benefits of Amazon EKS
  • Built For Production: EKS is battle-tested and production ready. Some of the world’s most popular applications are running on EKS. Whether you’re a startup or a large enterprise, your workload can be handled by EKS.
  • Seamless Integrations with other AWS services: Using EKS gives you access to the suite of services offered by AWS. There’s integration available for almost every AWS service that you can use with your Kubernetes deployment.
  • Unrivaled availability: EKS is available in 24 of the 30 regions that AWS supports giving it unrivaled availability. It has robust systems in place to provide the highest availability with unmatched performance.

Amazon EKS Anywhere

Launched in 2020, Amazon EKS Anywhere allows users to create and operate Kubernetes clusters on-premise. It supports bare metal, CloudStack, and VMware vSphere as deployment targets. One can also opt for additional support from AWS. When you choose EKS Anywhere, you get all the administrative and tooling tools that come with Amazon EKS.

EKS Anywhere uses the open source EKS distro, the same distro that powers the EKS on AWS. It provides the full feature set for complete lifecycle management of Kubernetes clusters that are capable of operating on infrastructure outside of AWS as well.

Features of Amazon EKS Anywhere
  • Leverage Existing Investments: Many organizations have made investments in building their own data centers and want to leverage that while running Kubernetes. With EKS Anywhere, they can deploy Kubernetes clusters on their existing infrastructure and still utilize the benefits of EKS.
  • Governance: One of the reasons why organizations have their own data center is to have better governance. They are in greater control of their infrastructure. And hence with EKS Anywhere, they can have the same level of governance.
  • Reduced Costs: EKS Anywhere allows organizations to split their workload and customize their workload deployment options alongside leveraging open source software. This helps reduce the costs considerably.
Benefits of Amazon EKS Anywhere
  • Run EKS Anywhere: EKS Anywhere literally allows you to spin up an EKS cluster on your on-prem infrastructure. It uses the same open source distro that EKS uses. It currently supports VMWare vSphere and bare-metal as deployment options.
  • Leverage AWS services: Though the EKS cluster is deployed on your infrastructure, you can use an EKS connector to connect with the AWS management console. With that, you can also enable integration with some of the AWS services and leverage them.
  • Free to use: At present, there is no upfront cost required to use EKS Anywhere. You can simply download and install it to your infrastructure and deploy your workload on it. Unless you want support from AWS, you don’t need to pay anything to use EKS Anywhere.

EKS vs EKS Anywhere

Both Amazon EKS and Amazon EKS Anywhere bring a suite of offerings to the table. Both are great at managing production workloads and come with AWS management tools. However, there are quite a few things that are distinctly different. The table below shows the differences between Amazon EKS and Amazon EKS Anywhere.

Amazon EKS
Amazon EKS Anywhere
K8s Control Plane Management Managed by AWS Managed by Customer
K8s Control Plane Location AWS Cloud Customer’s datacenter
Physical Hardware Managed by AWS Managed by Customer
Serverless EKS on Fargate Not supported
Compute AWS EC2, Fargate VMWare vSphere, Bare metal servers
Logging & Monitoring CloudTrail, CloudWatch 3rd Party options
Control Plane Pricing Hourly pricing per cluster Free to download, paid subscription

Detailed list of differences between EKS and EKS Anywhere

Amazon EKS or Amazon EKS Anywhere – Which One To Choose?

Both EKS and EKS Anywhere are production-ready solutions that can handle your workload effectively. However, the decision to choose either EKS or EKS Anywhere truly depends on your use case.

If you’re already utilizing AWS services in your organization, it makes sense to go for EKS. You can easily spin up a Kubernetes cluster and deploy your workload. Moreover, you can leverage the existing AWS services that you use and integrate them with your newly created EKS cluster. Further, even if you’re not an existing user of AWS, you can choose EKS because it’s production ready and can handle any type of workload that you throw at it. Moreover, you’ll be using one of the most advanced, reliable, and highly available solutions.

On the flip side, if you have strict regulations that require you to host your applications and data within your infrastructure, EKS Anywhere is a good option. You can deploy the EKS cluster on your on-prem infrastructure – which uses the same distro as EKS – and use the AWS management console to manage this cluster. Furthermore, if you want to keep the costs minimal and have the in-house expertise to manage EKS Anywhere deployment, this is a good choice.

We understand that not many organizations will have the in-house expertise required to manage an EKS Anywhere cluster. That’s where we can help you. For more information on how Rafay can help streamline Amazon EKS-A operations for your enterprise, visit Rafay’s key features for Amazon EKS-Anywhere.


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