Scaling up Kubernetes clusters can be extremely challenging since it involves managing multiple components like networking, storage, worker nodes, and control planes all at once.
Maintaining high throughput, low latency, and optimal performance when scaling Kubernetes clusters requires efficient network configurations, load balancing, and the right resource allocation.

More importantly, when you scale up clusters without careful planning, it can lead to suboptimal resource utilization and unnecessary overhead costs.

Enter Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS), an AWS-managed service that allows you to scale Kubernetes clusters without having to manage them.

Let’s dive in to better understand what EKS is and how it works.

What Is Amazon EKS?

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services or Amazon EKS is a managed service that allows users to run Kubernetes clusters on AWS without the need to install or maintain their own Kubernetes nodes or control plane. With EKS, AWS manages the complete scaling, deployment, and operations of your Kubernetes clusters so that you can focus on more important tasks—like running your applications.

So essentially, you get all the benefits of AWS infrastructure like scale, reliability, and performance without all the extra burden of maintaining it. Integrations with AWS networking and security services like Application Load Balancers (ALBs) and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) are also possible

EKS is designed to be highly secure, scalable, and available. It allows you to run Kubernetes applications on both AWS EC2 andAWS Fargate

It’s also important to note that applications that run on Amazon EKS are compatible with other applications that run on a standard Kubernetes environment. It’s also possible to migrate standard Kubernetes apps directly to Amazon EKS without changing any code.

How Does EKS Work?

EKS can be considered as the AWS solution for Kubernetes as a service. The solution aims to simplify the management of Kubernetes clusters present in AWS.

There are two main components of EKS:

  • Master Nodes/ Control Plane

The control plane includes three Kubernetes Master nodes which run in three different types of availability zones. All the incoming traffic comes through a network load balancer to the control plane. It’s also important to note that AWS manages the control plane and it cannot be managed by the organization.

  • Worker Nodes/ Data Plane

Worker nodes are controlled and managed by the organization and they run on AWS EC2 instances in the virtual private cloud.

While the control plane is responsible for managing and monitoring where and when containers get started, worker nodes run on the organization’s containers and are responsible for running your applications.

With Amazon EKS, it becomes possible to:

  • Automate the scaling of Kubernetes control plane instances based on their load
  • Automatically detect and replace unhealthy control plane instances
  • Seamlessly run and scale Kubernetes control plane across the different availability zones
  • Use the AWS architecture to ensure high availability
  • Integrate with AWS networking and security services like application load balancers (ALBs) and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Amazon VPC (Amazon VPC is leveraged in order to restrict traffic between different control plane components within a single cluster. Since control plane components for a specific cluster cannot receive or view communication from other clusters or from other AWS accounts, it makes EKS highly available and reliable at the same time.)
  • Run up to date versions of all the Kubernetes software to give users access to the different Kubernetes tools and plugins.

Here are the steps to get started with Amazon EKS

1- Create an Amazon EKS cluster using the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or one of AWS SDKs

2- Either launch self-managed or managed Amazon EC2 nodes or deploy your workloads to AWS Fargate

3- When the cluster is ready, communicate it by configuring it with the help of Kubernetes tools like kubectl

4- Deploy and manage workloads on the Amazon EKS cluster just like you would deploy workloads on any other Kubernetes environment. Once deployed, you will be able to view the workload information in the AWS management console.

What are the features of Amazon EKS?

Here are the main features of Amazon EKS

  1. Fully managed Kubernetes: EKS can also be defined as Kubernetes as a Service. With the help of EKS, AWS helps manage the operations, deployment, and scaling of Kubernetes clusters on your behalf. This, in turn, saves time and also reduces the overall operational overhead of managing clusters.
  2. High scalability and availability: EKS runs on Kubernetes control plane instances present across multiple availability regions which, in turn, improves availability and reduces risks of any downtime. Moreover, EKS also allows users to scale applications vertically or horizontally.
  3. High security: EKS offers several security features for Kubernetes clusters like AWS Key Management integration, VPC isolation, and IAM roles for different Kubernetes service accounts.
  4. Easy to use: Even if you are new to Kubernetes, EKS provides a straightforward interface for managing and deploying Kubernetes applications.

Understanding EKS pricing and the influencing factors

For each EKS cluster created, you pay $0.1 per hour. It is possible to use a single EKS cluster to run multiple Kubernetes applications by leveraging IAM security policies and namespaces.

With Amazon EKS, you get the flexibility to run and scale Kubernetes applications on-premise or on the cloud. For running Amazon EKS on the cloud, you can use either Amazon EC2 or AWS Fargate. For running Amazon EKS on-premise, AWS Outposts can be used.

The pricing will also depend on how you are running Amazon EKS:

  1. Amazon EC2: When using EC2 (and also Amazon EKS managed node groups), you pay for AWS resources being used like EC2 instances and EBS volumes. You only pay for what you use and there are no upfront commitments or minimum fees.
  2. AWS Fargate: With Fargate, the pricing gets calculated according to the vCPU and memory resources that are used right from when you download the container image till the time the Amazon EKS nodes get terminated.
  3. AWS Outposts: You pay $0.1 per hour per cluster– It’s the same for both local and extended cluster deployment options. Note that the Amazon EKS fee is charged extra over the Outposts pricing.

How can nOps Karpenter Solution (nKS) help optimize your EKS Workloads?

While EKS can immensely help scale Kubernetes clusters, if it’s not executed correctly, it can add on to your cloud costs and throw you off budget.

With nOps Karpenter Solution (nKS), you can reduce your EKS infrastructure costs by over 50% and more. It is a powerful solution that addresses the limitations of all the existing Kubernetes cluster autoscaling tools like Cluster Autoscaler and Karpenter.

Here are some of the many ways nKS can help save costs on EKS:

  1. 60-minute advance spot prediction to handle spot termination interruptions before they happen
  2. Automatically schedule EKS resources according to the available RIs, spot instances, and Saving Plans
  3. Monitor prices in real-time to maximize savings
  4. Leverage AWS’s open-sourced platform, Karpenter, to help autoscale
  5. Constantly rebalance cluster nodes based on the changes in the workload
  6. User-friendly interface for easy configuration and management

Explore more about nOps Karpenter Solution (nKS) here!