AUSTIN, Texas — Amazon Web Services (AWS) is gearing up to deploy embedded support for container networking directly within its EC2 Container Service (ECS).
Today, Amazon ECS relies on the same software-defined network (SDN) that AWS employs for all its cloud services. To make it possible to deploy both stateless and stateful applications at scale using Amazon ECS, AWS has developed an implementation of its networking software that can now be directly attached to any container.
“Right now, networking on AWS occurs at the host level, not at the container level,” said Deepak Singh, general manager of Amazon ECS.
Available on Github, the networking software AWS is developing will be exposed as another AWS Task that IT operations teams can invoke to automatically network multiple containers together. When the container disappears, so too will any virtual network associated with it, said Singh.
Sing added that following two years of availability, AWS is starting to see more sophisticated container applications being deployed on its public cloud. By attaching network services directly to the container, it will become more feasible to deploy stateful applications based on databases such as Cassandra on ECS.
AWS, said Singh, sees no reason to make containers available on bare metal servers. IT organizations that are concerned about container performance have the option to make use of graphical processing units (GPUs) or field programmable gate arrays (FPGA).
Singh noted that many of the first generation container applications were stateless. But as cloud services continue to evolve many stateless applications are likely to be served employing event-driven cloud serverless computing frameworks such as AWS Lambda. At the same time, however, Singh said AWS expects to see a lot more stateful applications running on ECS as IT organizations become more adept at building containerized applications.
In general, AWS views container services as one of several deployment options IT organizations are likely to embrace alongside traditional virtual machines, serverless computing frameworks, FPGA, and GPUs. Based on the performance attributes of the application, the AWS scheduler will automatically employ the appropriate framework.
AWS envisions ECS as key enabler of hybrid clouds as IT organizations discover how much simpler it is becoming to use containers to run applications on-premises and in the cloud.
Early SDN Adoption
AWS invested early in an SDN environment that it relies on to quickly provision networking resources on demand. More recently, AWS has been investing in developing its own networking hardware.
Dennis Smith, an industry analyst with Gartner, said AWS is a formidable competitor to every other IT vendor because of the cloud service provider’s singular focus on automation. Because of that capability, AWS can make available several different application deployment models that all share the same software-defined network.
“The key to all this is automation,” said Smith.
Obviously, rivals such as Google and Microsoft have made similar investments in automation and SDN to enable a variety of cloud services. The difference is that as an early adopter of SDN technologies, AWS is now reaping the rewards of making those investments much earlier than any other IT vendor.