By Channy Yun | on 27 MAY 2021
Since Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) was launched in 2014, AWS has released other options for running Amazon ECS tasks outside of an AWS Region such as AWS Wavelength, an offering for mobile edge devices or AWS Outposts, a service that extends to customers’ environments using hardware owned and fully managed by AWS.
But some customers have applications that need to run on premises due to regulatory, latency, and data residency requirements or the desire to leverage existing infrastructure investments. In these cases, customers have to install, operate, and manage separate container orchestration software and need to use disparate tooling across their AWS and on-premises environments. Customers asked us for a way to manage their on-premises containers without this added complexity and cost.
Following Jeff’s preannouncement last year, I am happy to announce the general availability of Amazon ECS Anywhere, a new capability in Amazon ECS that enables customers to easily run and manage container-based applications on premises, including virtual machines (VMs), bare metal servers, and other customer-managed infrastructure.
With ECS Anywhere, you can run and manage containers on any customer-managed infrastructure using the same cloud-based, fully managed, and highly scalable container orchestration service you use in AWS today. You no longer need to prepare, run, update, or maintain your own container orchestrators on premises, making it easier to manage your hybrid environment and leverage the cloud for your infrastructure by installing simple agents.
ECS Anywhere provides consistent tooling and APIs for all container-based applications and the same Amazon ECS experience for cluster management, workload scheduling, and monitoring both in the cloud and on customer-managed infrastructure. You can now enjoy the benefits of reduced cost and complexity by running container workloads such as data processing at edge locations on your own hardware maintaining reduced latency, and in the cloud using a single, consistent container orchestrator.
Amazon ECS Anywhere – Getting Started
To get started with ECS Anywhere, register your on-premises servers or VMs (also referred to as External instances) in the ECS cluster. The AWS Systems Manager Agent, Amazon ECS container agent, and Docker must be installed on these external instances. Your external instances require an IAM role that permits them to communicate with AWS APIs. For more information, see Required IAM permissions in the ECS Developer Guide.
To create a cluster for ECS Anywhere, on the Create Cluster page in the ECS console, choose the Networking Only template. This option is for use with either AWS Fargate or external instance capacity. We recommend that you use the AWS Region that is geographically closest to the on-premises servers you want to register.
This creates an empty cluster to register external instances. On the ECS Instances tab, choose Register External Instances to get activation codes and an installation script.
On the Step 1: External instances activation details page, in Activation key duration (in days), enter the number of days the activation key should remain active. The activation key can be used for up to 1,000 activations. In Number of instances, enter the number of external instances you want to register to your cluster. In Instance role, enter the IAM role to associate with your external instances.
Choose Next step to get a registration command.
On the Step 2: Register external instances page, copy the registration command. Run this command on the external instances you want to register to your cluster.
Paste the registration command in your on-premise servers or VMs. Each external instance is then registered as an AWS Systems Manager managed instance, which is then registered to your Amazon ECS clusters.
ARM64 CPU architectures are supported. The following is a list of supported operating systems:
- CentOS 7, CentOS 8
- RHEL 7
- Fedora 32, Fedora 33
- openSUSE Tumbleweed
- Ubuntu 18, Ubuntu 20
- Debian 9, Debian 10
- SUSE Enterprise Server 15
When the ECS agent has started and completed the registration, your external instance will appear on the ECS Instances tab.
You can also add your external instances to the existing cluster. In this case, you can see both Amazon EC2 instances and external instances are prefixed with
Now that the external instances are registered to your cluster, you are ready to create a task definition. Amazon ECS provides the
requiresCompatibilities parameter to validate that the task definition is compatible with the the
EXTERNAL launch type when creating your service or running your standalone task. The following is an example task definition:
You can create a task definition in the ECS console. In Task Definition, choose Create new task definition. For Launch type, choose EXTERNAL and then configure the task and container definitions to use external instances.
On the Tasks tab, choose Run new task. On the Run Task page, for Cluster, choose the cluster to run your task definition on. In Number of tasks, enter the number of copies of that task to run with the
EXTERNAL launch type.
Or, on the Services tab, choose Create. Configure service lets you specify copies of your task definition to run and maintain in a cluster. To run your task in the registered external instance, for Launch type, choose EXTERNAL. When you choose this launch type, load balancers, tag propagation, and service discovery integration are not supported.
The tasks you run on your external instances must use the
none network modes. The
awsvpc network mode isn’t supported. For more information about each network mode, see Choosing a network mode in the Amazon ECS Best Practices Guide.
Now you can run your tasks and associate a mix of
EC2 capacity provider types with the same ECS service and specify how you would like your tasks to be split across them.
Things to Know
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Connectivity: In the event of loss of network connectivity between the ECS agent running on the on-premises servers and the ECS control plane in the AWS Region, existing ECS tasks will continue to run as usual. If tasks still have connectivity with other AWS services, they will continue to communicate with them for as long as the task role credentials are active. If a task launched as part of a service crashes or exits on its own, ECS will be unable to replace it until connectivity is restored.
Monitoring: With ECS Anywhere, you can get Amazon CloudWatch metrics for your clusters and services, use the CloudWatch Logs driver (
awslogs) to get your containers’ logs, and access the ECS CloudWatch event stream to monitor your clusters’ events.
Networking: ECS external instances are optimized for running applications that generate outbound traffic or process data. If your application requires inbound traffic, such as a web service, you will need to employ a workaround to place these workloads behind a load balancer until the feature is supported natively. For more information, see Networking with ECS Anywhere.
Data Security: To help customers maintain data security, ECS Anywhere only sends back to the AWS Region metadata related to the state of the tasks or the state of the containers (whether they are running or not running, performance counters, and so on). This communication is authenticated and encrypted in transit through Transport Layer Security (TLS).
ECS Anywhere Partners
ECS Anywhere integrates with a variety of ECS Anywhere partners to help customers take advantage of ECS Anywhere and provide additional functionality for the feature. Here are some of the blog posts that our partners wrote to share their experiences and offerings. (I am updating this article with links as they are published.)
Amazon ECS Anywhere is now available in all commercial regions except AWS China Regions where ECS is supported. With ECS Anywhere, there are no minimum fees or upfront commitments. You pay per instance hour for each managed ECS Anywhere task. For more information, see the pricing page.
Get started with the Amazon ECS Anywhere today.