sumetho - Fotolia

Amazon ECS stands to iron out some kinks

Monitoring and deep diagnostics on a per-container basis are two areas Amazon ECS can improve on in the early days of the container wars.

Despite being the first to make support for Docker cloud orchestration generally available, Amazon EC2 Container Service still has kinks to work out.

Specifically, monitoring and deep diagnostics on a per-container basis stand to be improved.

Right now, reporting on the Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) is limited to logging, which in an environment with hundreds to thousands of running containers can be overwhelming, according to  Christopher Riley, a founding partner at HKM Consulting based in Rochester, Mass. However, new Docker features such as Docker stats might offer a way to aggregate and push CPU, RAM, and I/O data up to a central console in the future.

"Management of clusters, container lifecycle and security are inherent in the current solution and done well," Riley said. "There is a lot more work to be done and I presume ECS will continue to be updated to help improve scheduling, management and monitoring."

The AWS stuff has its quirks.
Christian Beikovco-founder of Sweazer

Elastic Beanstalk's support for Docker could also use some brushing up, said Christian Beikov, co-founder of Sweazer, maker of a mobile e-commerce application based in Austria. He uses a tool from Ruxit, a division of Dynatrace, LLC, to monitor Docker on the AWS PaaS.

He has experienced unexplained failures on EC2 and there are times when Elastic Beanstalk doesn't work as it should due to issues such as a health-check failure, Beikov said.

"The AWS stuff has its quirks," he said. "I would like to have a little bit more transparency on the Elastic Beanstalk platform to figure out what went wrong."

Amazon has recently made updates to Elastic Beanstalk to address these issues, but Beikov said his Elastic Beanstalk console appears to be up to date -- and he still had problems.

He would also like Elastic Beanstalk or ECS to offer a Docker registry service and a Docker image builder.

Still, this illustrates how early it is in this market, said Jay Lyman, analyst with 451 Research based in New York.

"This is just starting to hit the test-and-evaluation phases," Lyman said.

However, expect to see the container market evolve very quickly, according to Lyman. Typically, Lyman said, vendors and investors are the first to inquire with analyst firms such as his about a new trend like Docker, but in this case, enterprise IT pros are already looking for advice on how to best take advantage of Docker cloud services.

One player that has yet to really place its chips on the board with Docker cloud orchestration services is Microsoft, which supports Docker for Linux servers in its Azure cloud, but is still working on delivering Docker for Windows Server sometime in the next year. That will further shake up the market dynamics.

"Amazon, Google, Microsoft, VMware, Red Hat, IBM -- you name it -- they pretty much have a significant play in containers, and if not they're working toward it," Lyman said.

Meanwhile, if there's any player in the market that can iterate to keep up with a fast-moving market, it's AWS. In the last year it launched 516 services and features and, as of July 23, has launched 350 new services and features for 2015.

Amazon declined to comment for this story.  

Does Amazon EC2 have a leg up on Google Kubernetes? Find out in part one.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.  

Dig Deeper on AWS instances strategy and setup