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Amazon Web Services unveiled a pair of new services today aimed at helping companies run containerized applications in its cloud. The provider embraced the open source Kubernetes container management system today with the announcement of the Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), as well as a new Fargate service that’s designed to let customers deploy containers without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Developers are moving to run their applications inside software containers — lightweight execution environments that are more portable than traditional virtual machines (VMs). Kubernetes is a piece of software that originated at Google designed to help manage the complexity of building applications that are composed of multiple containerized components by orchestrating key tasks like load balancing.

Using Kubernetes helps developers abstract out the complexity of running the infrastructure that underpins their applications. While there needs to be silicon somewhere to drive the computing needed, developers can build containerized applications, pass those off to Kubernetes, and not worry as much about the underlying compute capabilities.

Fargate goes one step further by allowing customers to define the compute and memory that their applications need, but have Amazon manage the underlying servers entirely. That way, developers should just be able to write code and have the platform handle the rest of the work.


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The move has been a long time coming. Prior to this, AWS was pushing its own orchestrator, provided through the Elastic Container Service, but customers have also been working increasingly with Kubernetes.

Cloud titans are competing hard to manage their customers’ Kubernetes workloads. Microsoft recently announced its own Azure Kubernetes Service, which provides management of the container orchestrator. Just yesterday, Google announced that it would eliminate all of the management fees for its Kubernetes Engine offering.

EKS uses stock open source Kubernetes rather than a proprietary fork of the software, meaning that it’s compatible with the same software that customers are running in their private datacenters or other public cloud environments.

AWS is no stranger to hosting Kubernetes workloads. Andy Jassy, the division’s CEO, said that the highest proportion of Kubernetes deployments in the cloud reside in AWS.

EKS is available in public preview today. Fargate’s management capabilities for the Elastic Container Service are generally available, while Fargate for EKS is supposed to be available next year.

This news was announced at the company’s re:Invent customer conference, held this week in Las Vegas.

Correction 7:30 p.m. Pacific: This story has been corrected to clarify that Fargate for the Elastic Container Service is generally available today.

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